The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers played in yet another classic game last night. The Ravens held a 13 point lead at one point, but a lack of pass rush allowed Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense to get back in the game. Emmanuel Sanders dropped what would have been the tying two-point conversion to preserve the win for the Ravens 22-20 — perhaps it was karma for mocking the famous Ray Lewis dance earlier in the game. In addition to Sanders, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin might have made himself the biggest villain in the eyes of Ravens fans with his blatant move to get in the way of a Jacoby Jones kickoff return. What really put it over the top, though, was his evil little grin afterwards. All that was missing was for him to put his pinky to his mouth like and laugh uncontrollably like Dr. Evil.
Regardless of the questionable tactics the Ravens came out victorious in what many considered a virtual elimination game. The Steelers at 5-7 would likely have to win their next four games and get a little help to sneak in the playoffs, a very unlikely scenario. As for the Ravens, they now hold the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoffs and will continue to hold it after Week 13 should the Tennessee Titans lose to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. The Ravens’ final four games will be vs. Minnesota Vikings, at Detroit Lions, vs. New England Patriots, at Cincinnati Bengals. Assuming the Ravens take care of business against the Vikings to go to 7-6, they would likely just need to win two out of the next three. Basically the Ravens could probably afford one more loss, just as long it’s neither of the final two AFC games. If the Ravens can make it to the Week 17 game against the Bengals at 8-7 and the Bengals at 9-6 then the Ravens would be able to win the division with a win (the Ravens would own the head to head tiebreaker). The Bengals’ remaining games are, at San Diego Chargers, vs. Colts, at Steelers, vs. Vikings, vs. Ravens. I could definitely see the 7-4 Bengals dropping two of those games before the Week 17 showdown against the Ravens.
The chances of a sixth straight trip to the postseason for the Ravens have greatly improved over the last two weeks. The Ravens control their own destiny at this point, and that’s all you can really ask for at this point in the season. Bring on the Vikings.
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