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Missed opportunities haunt Steelers in loss to Ravens

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky looks to pass under pressure from Baltimore Ravens linebacker Tyus Bowser during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022.
Don Wright
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky looks to pass under pressure from Baltimore Ravens linebacker Tyus Bowser during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 11.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky was overly aggressive with the football, and he knew it.

The Steelers lost rookie Kenny Pickett to concussion protocol in the first quarter, and when Trubisky entered the game, he repeatedly moved Pittsburgh deep into Baltimore territory. But three costly interceptions allowed the Ravens to secure a 16-14 win on Sunday.

“Coming off the bench, I just wanted to go in there and try to provide a spark,” Trubisky said. “I thought we did a good job moving the ball, but I have to protect the football and that’s obvious.”

Pickett was initially cleared to return after he was evaluated following a sack by Baltimore linebacker Roquan Smith on the first series of the game. Pickett came back for a series before being put in concussion protocol and ruled out for the remainder of the game.

It’s the second time this season that Pickett has been placed in the concussion protocol. He missed the second half of a win against Tampa Bay on Oct. 16. Trubisky came off the bench and helped Pickett capture his first win as a professional in that Week 6 game, but that wasn’t the case against the Ravens.

“We had a lot of adversity today, but if I take care of the football, I give ourselves a better chance to win,” Trubisky said.

Pittsburgh trailed 10-0 early, but Trubisky entered the game and provided an immediate spark when he led the offense on a touchdown drive. He connected with George Pickens on a 42-yard pass play along the sideline and Najee Harris ended the series two plays later with a 1-yard plunge.

After the touchdown, three of the next four Pittsburgh drives ended with Trubisky throwing an interception — two of them inside the Ravens’ 25-yard line — and Baltimore blocked a field goal on the fifth series.

“I think we were moving the ball and I think the problem was that I was turning it over in the red zone,” Trubisky said. “I wanted to score in the red zone. I wanted to be aggressive. I have to be a lot smarter with my decisions and not forcing it down there. We’ve got to come away with points, at least field goals.”

Trubisky later drove the offense to the Baltimore 17-yard line, but Smith ended the series with an interception. The Ravens took advantage and answered with Justin Tucker’s 35-yard field goal to open a 13-7 lead.

Trubisky took the Steelers to the Ravens’ 23-yard line, but this drive ended with another interception, this one a leaping grab by Patrick Quinn, as Baltimore held a six-point halftime lead.

“You just can’t turn the ball over,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “Usually, the team that turns the ball over in the red area is the team that loses. We turned it over in the red area in this one, so we lost this one.”

Trubisky’s third interception didn’t come in the red zone, but it happened on the Ravens’ side of the field in the third quarter. He aired out a pass that was intended for Diontae Johnson, but it was picked off in the end zone by Marcus Williams.

“I just threw it a little too far,” Trubisky said. “It looked like the free safety had a jump on it. That’s why he got over the top before Diontae did.”

Pittsburgh, still trailing 13-7, moved to the Ravens’ 22-yard line with a little more than 11 minutes to play, but Chris Boswell’s 40-yard field goal try was blocked by Calais Campbell.

Trubisky, who finished 22 of 30 for 276 yards, threw a 10-yard touchdown to Pat Freiermuth with 2:30 to play, but Baltimore went back to the ground. The Ravens, who ran for 215 yards as a team, picked up another first down to run out the clock and likely end any chances Pittsburgh has of reaching the playoffs.

“To not get off the field and just give our offense one more chance ... that stings the most,” Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward said.