In a gritty showdown on January 6, the Pittsburgh Steelers emerged victorious with a 17-10 win over the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens, overcoming not only their formidable opponents but also challenging weather conditions. The night's cold, rainy backdrop set the stage for a game that saw limited deep pass attempts, an intentional strategy by the Ravens' defense particularly focused on containing Steelers' wide receiver, George Pickens.
The Ravens' defensive game plan was effective, as Pickens saw minimal action in the passing game, without a single target. His sole contribution on offense was a modest 3-yard end-around run in the second half. However, the young receiver's response to this limited involvement was noteworthy.
Unlike previous weeks, where frustration might have been the norm, Pickens displayed a commendable level of maturity and a team-first attitude.
Rudolph Praises Pickens
In his postgame press conference, Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph lauded Pickens for his conduct under the tight coverage.
“They double-covered him most of the game. I told him I’m very proud of the way he handled that,” Rudolph stated. Emphasizing the young receiver's maturity, he continued, “He knew that schematically they were trying to take him away, and I think that’s a form of flattery from a defense that they know how explosive he was.
But he blocked hard all day, and he was excited for his teammates. That was awesome to see”. Despite the lack of typical offensive fireworks from Pickens, Rudolph pointed out that his contributions came in other forms.
Notably, Pickens was instrumental in converting a critical third-down attempt with his 3-yard run, a pivotal moment in the tightly contested game. The Steelers' win against the Ravens marked only their second victory of the season in a game where Pickens didn't amass at least 50 receiving yards.
This game not only highlighted the strategic adaptations teams must make but also showcased the importance of player versatility and attitude, especially in a league as competitive as the NFL. Pickens' ability to contribute in various ways and maintain a positive team spirit was a key takeaway from this hard-fought Steelers' victory.