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Short-handed Ravens put up fight, fall short in Pittsburgh

Wed Dec 2 9:33pm ET
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III (3) passes against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first half during an NFL football game, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)


Baltimore Ravens linebacker Tyus Bowser (54) runs past Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool (11) after making an interception during the first half of an NFL football game, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)


Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) greets Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters (24) after an NFL football game Wednesday, Dec 2, 2020, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 19-14. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)


Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) tries to fend off Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tramon Williams after making a catch during the second half of an NFL football game Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)


Baltimore Ravens quarterback Trace McSorley (7) throws against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half of an NFL football game, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 19-14. (AP Photo/Don Wright)


Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III (3) scrambles past Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree (48) during the first half of an NFL football game, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)


PITTSBURGH (AP) The Baltimore Ravens didn't practice for more than a week while COVID-19 raced through the locker room and forced the NFL to postpone their trip to Pittsburgh three separate times. They ran onto Heinz Field on Wednesday afternoon with 11 practice squad players added to the roster and star quarterback Lamar Jackson and starting running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins back in Baltimore.

And somehow, they hung in there against the league's last unbeaten team. While their 19-14 loss eliminated the Ravens from defending their AFC North crown, head coach John Harbaugh didn't exactly raise the white flag on the season or his club.

''I appreciate our players the way they fought through this,'' he said. ''I'm proud of our guys for doing this. This is a crazy year in a lot of ways.''

One that took a wild turn over the last week as the NFL pushed Baltimore's showdown with the Steelers from Thanksgiving night to Sunday to Tuesday to finally, Wednesday as the number of Ravens on the reserve/COVID-19 list ballooned to more than 20. Protocols forced Baltimore to work remotely while the league tried to sort things out. They finally gathered for a walkthrough on Tuesday and 24 hours later found themselves taking on longtime a rival off to a historic start.

It was ugly at times. Robert Griffin III, filling in for Jackson, turned it over twice in the first quarter, including a Pick-6 that Joe Haden returned 14 yards for a touchdown. A chance to take the lead late in the first half ended up with an incompletion to a backup tight end as time expired. There were penalties (seven for 84 yards) and just one first down achieved through the air.

And still, a 70-yard strike from Trace McSorley - who replaced Griffin in the fourth quarter after Griffin's balky left hamstring gave out - pulled the Ravens within five with 2:58 to go. Baltimore's defense had a chance to get off the field before Ben Roethlisberger's fling to James Washington in triple coverage on third-and-6 allowed the Steelers to run out the clock.

''The guys showed a lot of grit and determination today, a lot of toughness,'' Griffin said. ''I want to commend the guys on how they fought. There are no moral victories in this league but I'm proud to be a Raven.''

Baltimore (6-5) has lost three straight and four of five, a slide that began with a tough loss to the Steelers (11-0) at home on Nov. 1. A month later, the Ravens are out of the hunt for the division title and currently outside of the seven-team playoff picture looking in.

''We're going to be solid,'' said safety Chuck Clark, who along with Griffin, Harbaugh and everyone else was interviewed wearing a mask postgame. ''We're just going to win games from here on out. We're going to get in, and we can do it.''

The schedule is user-friendly. Baltimore faces just one team currently with a winning record (Cleveland) over its final five games. Yet for all of Griffin's toughness, neither he nor McSorley are Jackson. The two combined to complete just 9 of 18 passes for 110 yards, 70 of which came on the throw to Brown.

''We've got to be better, but the fight we have in our team and how we were able to come together throughout this whole week - losing guys, not knowing what was going on - we stuck together, and we kept fighting,'' McSorley said. ''So, I think that's just the core of what we have here. We've got to eliminate mistakes so that we can win games, that's the big deal.''

The Ravens also need to find a way to avoid taking any further roster hits due to COVID-19. The team believes it has it under control but their wiggle room is practically gone. Their schedule continues to be a mess, with their game against Dallas - originally set for Thursday - pushed to next Tuesday. They will be forced to play three times in 12 days and any misstep could seriously put their playoff hopes in peril a year after they went 14-2 and were the AFC's top seed.

Yet that was then. Now, things are considerably more complicated. Baltimore will press forward wary of just how thin the line is between success and failure, both on the field and in terms of trying to ward off the novel coronavirus.

''There's a lot of fight in this team,'' offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman said. ''This team is fighters. They came in, they came into the fight, they were ready to roll. We're going to get a lot of guys healthy back. We're going to just build from here. This is just the beginning. So, we're ready to work.''

--

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Player Notes
Chris Carson Dec 2 11:50pm ET

Seattle Seahawks running backs Chris Carson (foot) and Carlos Hyde (toe) were both limited in practice on Wednesday. Carson returned in Week 12 after missing four games and was substantially out-touched by Hyde, although Carson did score a touchdown. The fact that Carson played just 37 percent of the offensive snaps is concerning, but hopefully he'll see a bigger workload this weekend against the Giants. Consider him an RB2 in a good matchup with the Giants. Hyde played 62 percent of the snaps on Monday night, rushing 15 times for just 22 yards and catching two of three targets for an extra seven yards. Fantasy managers should expect Carson to receive a bigger workload in his second game back, making Hyde a touchdown-dependent RB3/flex in deeper formats.

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Kyler Murray Dec 2 11:50pm ET

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (shoulder) was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. Murray tweaked his shoulder in the Week 11 loss to the Seahawks and failed to record a touchdown in last week's loss to the Patriots, throwing for just 170 yards. He also ran the ball a season-low five times for 31 yards. After carrying the ball double-digit times in Weeks 6-10, Murray has only 10 rushing attempts in his last two games. Is his injury causing him to run less? It looks like it, and he'll have another tough matchup with the Rams in Week 13. LA's defense has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to QBs in the last five weeks. While the second-year signal-caller shouldn't be benched by his fantasy managers, he might underwhelm again if you're expecting high-end QB1 production.

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Breshad Perriman Dec 2 11:40pm ET

New York Jets wide receiver Breshad Perriman (shoulder) was listed as a limited practice participant on Wednesday. Don't look now, but Perriman has been fantasy relevant the last three weeks while either scoring a touchdown or topping 75 yards receiving. He caught four of his eight targets in Week 12 against the Dolphins for 79 yards. It's still hard to trust anyone on the winless Jets and Perriman has had his fair share of injuries in his career, but he might be the most trustworthy Jets receiver at this point. In deeper league, Perriman is worth considering as a WR4/flex, but don't expect him to put you over the top if you need one more win to get into the fantasy postseason.

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Cam Newton Dec 2 11:30pm ET

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (abdomen) was limited in practice on Wednesday. Newton's injury doesn't appear to be serious enough to keep him from playing in Week 13 against the Chargers. The 31-year-old former MVP was just 9-for-18 passing for 84 yards and two interceptions in the Week 12 win over the Cardinals. He added nine carries for 46 yards. Newton's rushing ability gives him a little more upside, but he's not running like he used to and has limited weapons in the passing attack, making him a midrange QB2 this Sunday with a limited ceiling. The Los Angeles defense has allowed the 11th-most fantasy points per game to signal-caller this year, including four rushing touchdowns to the position.

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Kalen Ballage Dec 2 11:30pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers running back Kalen Ballage (ankle), linebacker Uchenna Nwosu (chest) and offensive guard Trai Turner (ankle) were all limited in practice on Wednesday. Ballage was inactive in the Week 12 loss to the Bills, but he's on the right track to make his return in Week 13 against the Patriots. The 24-year-old saw double-digit carries from Weeks 9-11 and was also seeing usage in the passing game, putting him in the flex consideration. However, Austin Ekeler returned from Injured Reserve last weekend and should remain as the team's featured back to close out the season. Ballage could still be mixed in here and there alongside Joshua Kelley and Troymaine Pope, but Ekeler's return has all but killed the fleeting fantasy value that he had.

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C.J. Prosise Dec 2 11:20pm ET

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David Johnson Dec 2 11:20pm ET

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D.J. Chark Dec 2 11:10pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr. (ribs) was limited in practice on Wednesday after sitting out of the Week 12 loss to the Browns. Chark seems to be on the right track to return this Sunday against the Vikings and their suspect secondary, but can you trust him in fantasy lineups with quarterback Mike Glennon under center for the second straight week? To be honest, Glennon is an upgrade over rookie Jake Luton and could even be an upgrade over Gardner Minshew II. Chark has seen double-digit targets just twice this year and has only one 100-yard game, but the matchup is nice enough that he should be considered a WR3/flex with upside for more if he plays. The Vikings Defense has allowed 18 receiving touchdowns (second-most) and the third-most fantasy points to receivers in 2020. Chark's return would lower the ceilings of Keelan Cole and rookie Laviska Shenault Jr.

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Equanimeous St. Brown Dec 2 11:10pm ET

Green Bay Packers wide receivers Allen Lazard (core) and Equanimeous St. Brown (knee) and safety Darnell Savage (back) were limited practice participants on Wednesday. Lazard saw a bigger role in his second game back from core muscle surgery and found the end zone, but he had just 23 receiving yards. He returned to the game after being banged up, giving him a good chance to play in Week 13 against the Eagles. Green Bay should be able to move the ball against Philadelphia, but Lazard will once again be a touchdown-dependent WR4/flex in his third game back from surgery. St. Brown doubled his reception total in Week 12 against the Bears with two catches for 39 yards. As long as Davante Adams and Lazard are on the field, St. Brown is an afterthought.

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Carlos Dunlap Dec 2 11:03pm ET

Seattle Seahawks DE Carlos Dunlap (foot) is nursing a sore foot, but head coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday, Dec. 2 that he feels the pass rusher will be ready for the Week 13 game against the New York Giants. 'I can't tell you much yet, we won't know for the next couple of days, but he's just got a sore foot and we don't think he's going to miss because of that,' Carroll said.

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Josh Jacobs Dec 2 11:00pm ET

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Mitch Trubisky Dec 2 10:53pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Nick Foles practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday, so Trubisky will get another chance to show what he can do. Still, he is more of a QB2 in most fantasy leagues of 12 or more teams despite his success against the Lions.

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Phillip Lindsay Dec 2 10:40pm ET

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Jerry Jeudy Dec 2 10:40pm ET

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Jonnu Smith Dec 2 10:20pm ET

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Calvin Ridley Dec 2 10:20pm ET

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Russell Wilson Dec 2 10:10pm ET

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