Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 266 yards and found receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster for a critical fourth-quarter touchdown in the first NFL game on a Wednesday since 2012. The matchup, originally scheduled for Thanksgiving night, was postponed three times because of COVID-19 issues in Baltimore.
Despite Pittsburgh improving to 11-0 this season, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he was "disappointed" with his team's "junior varsity"-level play against an undermanned Ravens squad.
"To be bluntly honest, I'm really disappointed in our performance tonight," Tomlin said. "We did enough to win tonight, that's all. ... It was just bad by all parties involved. Coaches first and players second."
The Ravens (6-5) lost their third consecutive game while playing without more than a dozen players, including reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and offensive stars Mark Ingram and Mark Andrews. Those players were moved to the reserve/COVID-19 list in the days leading up to the delayed Week 12 matchup.
Robert Griffin III took over for Jackson and completed 7 of 12 pass attempts for 33 yards and an interception. He added seven carries for a team-high 68 yards.
Griffin eventually exited in the fourth quarter because of a left hamstring injury. Trace McSorley, who was one of 11 players promoted from the practice squad, replaced him and connected with receiver Marquise Brown for a 70-yard touchdown with under three minutes left in the game to cut the Steelers' lead to five.
But the Steelers were able to drain the clock behind three first downs to eliminate the Ravens from repeating as AFC North champions.
"The way the game went, obviously we wanted to win," Griffin said. "We felt like we had a chance to come in here and win, shock the world and do something special. I put it on myself. I feel like if I didn't pull my hamstring in the second quarter we would have won. It was really emotional trying to fight through that. I feel like I let my guys down."
Gus Edwards had nine carries for 10 yards and a rushing score. Brown led the Ravens with four receptions for 85 yards and his receiving touchdown.
Steelers running back Benny Snell Jr., who was filling in for James Conner, had 60 rushing yards on 16 carries. Conner was added to the COVID-19 list last week.
The Ravens will host the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday in a game initially scheduled for Thursday, while the Steelers will take on the Washington Football Team on Monday.