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

Wed Dec 2 9:33pm ET
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
Phillip Lindsay Dec 2 10:40pm ET

Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (knee) wasn't able to practice on Wednesday. Lindsay left the Week 12 blowout loss to the Saints early with a knee injury after carrying the ball nine times for just 20 yards. The 26-year-old has become a low-ceiling RB3/4 in an inconsistent Broncos offense while sharing carries with Melvin Gordon III. Lindsay's lack of involvement in the passing game (just two receptions all year), makes him almost unrosterable in PPR leagues. If he's unable to get on the practice field this week, Royce Freeman would serve as the backup to Gordon in Week 13 against the Chiefs. Freeman wouldn't have standalone value, but Gordon would be a low-end RB2 with upside if he has the backfield more to himself.

From RotoBaller

Jerry Jeudy Dec 2 10:40pm ET

Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (ankle) was limited in practice on Wednesday. Jeudy was on the injury report last week but was taken off on Friday. He'll be fine to play this weekend against the Chiefs unless he suffers a setback. Denver's entire offense struggled in Week 12 when they were forced to start a practice-squad wide receiver at quarterback, so Jeudy should have more than just one target this Sunday. The Broncos should be forced to throw the ball more often against KC, but the Chiefs Defense is allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to wideouts. Plus, Jeudy and quarterback Drew Lock haven't been efficient in their connection this year. Jeudy will be more of a WR4/flex this weekend as he looks to bounce back from a donut in Week 12.

From RotoBaller

Denver Broncos Dec 2 10:30pm ET

The Denver Broncos activated defensive end Shelby Harris from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday and placed cornerback Bryce Callahan (foot) on Injured Reserve in a corresponding move. Callahan will be out at least three weeks. Denver claimed safety Will Parks, who was drafted by Denver in 2016, so he's an option to take over for Callaway in the slot. Harris is recovered from COVID-19, but he could be held out in Week 13 against the Chiefs to allow him to get back up to full speed. The Broncos inexperienced and young secondary is unlikely to slow down Patrick Mahomes and his bevvy of weapons this Sunday, so fantasy managers should be looking to avoid the Broncos Defense. In their first meeting in Week 7, the Broncos allowed 40-plus points.

From RotoBaller

Jonnu Smith Dec 2 10:20pm ET

Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith (knee), cornerback Adoree' Jackson (knee) and defensive end Jeffery Simmons (knee) all missed practice on Wednesday. Smith really put his fantasy managers in a tough spot in Week 12 with zero targets in the passing game against the Colts. He has plenty of pass-catching talent, but his floor is really low if he continues to be used a lot as a blocker. Add in the knee injury and you have a tight end that is extremely volatile as a touchdown-dependent low-end TE1/high-end TE1 against Cleveland this weekend. If Smith's knee injury is serious enough to keep him out this week, Anthony Firkser and MyCole Pruitt would likely share snaps at the position.

From RotoBaller

Calvin Ridley Dec 2 10:20pm ET

Atlanta Falcons wide receivers Julio Jones (hamstring) and Calvin Ridley (ankle, foot) and running back Todd Gurley II (knee) were all limited practice participants on Wednesday. Jones and Gurley didn't play in the Week 12 win over the Raiders, so their participation on Wednesday is a good sign that they'll have a chance to suit up in Week 13 against the Saints. The 31-year-old Jones often plays through nagging injuries, but his fantasy managers would love to see him log a full practice this week. He caught just two passes for 39 yards in the first meeting with New Orleans in Week 11, but Jones should top that if he returns. Ridley has the higher WR1 ceiling at this point, but Jones will be a must-start if he's active. Gurley has a chance to return this week, but even if he does, he'll be one to fade against a tough Saints run defense while potentially looking at a limited workload. Brian Hill and Ito Smith shared backfield duties with Gurley out against Las Vegas, with Smith the more productive rusher. This is probably a week to avoid Atlanta's backfield entirely if you can find better options.

From RotoBaller

Russell Wilson Dec 2 10:10pm ET

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has cooled off from his MVP pace over the last four weeks, but he's got a chance to reignite those flames in Week 13 against the New York Giants. The Giants feature one of the league's better passing defenses, as they've allowed just 15.5 points per game to the quarterback position. Wilson's outlook isn't perfect for this game, but he does have the benefit of playing at home. On the season, he's averaging over 30 fantasy points per game in Seattle. With his complement of weapons and running ability, he's firmly in the QB1 conversation for this week.

From RotoBaller

Adam Humphries Dec 2 10:10pm ET

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Adam Humphries (concussion) returned to practice on Wednesday. Humphries has a chance to return in Week 13 against the Browns after sitting out since Week 9 with a head injury. The 27-year-old is the No. 3 receiver in this offense when healthy, behind A.J. Brown and Corey Davis. Humphries has only 22 catches on 31 targets for 219 yards and two touchdowns in six games this season, though, making it unlikely that he does much for fantasy managers if he returns this weekend. In Tennessee's low-volume passing offense, Humphries hasn't seen more than seven targets in a single game, although he's seen fewer than six targets in only two of his six games, including in Week 8 when he suffered a concussion. He'll be a desperation WR4/flex in deep PPR leagues if he is back on the field this weekend.

From RotoBaller

Philip Rivers Dec 2 10:00pm ET

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers (toe) and left tackle Anthony Castonzo (knee) did not take part in practice on Wednesday. Rivers missed some practice time last week but managed to play in the Week 12 loss to the Titans, so he shouldn't be in danger of sitting out Week 13 against the Texans. The veteran gunslinger started the year off slow with the Colts, but he's picked things up of late on the fantasy side of things with Indy forced to throw the ball more often against better competition. The 38-year-old has attempted at least 36 passes in each of the last four games and has had at least 288 yards passing in three of those four games. Houston's defense has been around middle of the pack as far as allowing fantasy points to QBs this year, but they also just lost top cornerback Bradley Roby to a PED suspension. If Houston can put up points and force the Colts to stay balanced on offense, Rivers should be a fine QB2 this weekend. Castonzo could miss anywhere from two to six weeks after suffering ACL damage in Week 12.

From RotoBaller

Matthew Stafford Dec 2 10:00pm ET

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (thumb) was a limited practice participant on Wednesday. Stafford played through his thumb injury on Thanksgiving Day, so there should be no reason to expect him to miss Week 13's contest against the Bears. He did very little against the Texans, though, going 28-for-42 for 295 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Chicago's defense was torched by Aaron Rodgers last week, but they have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points per game to QBs this season, making Stafford more of a low-end QB2, especially if No. 1 receiver Kenny Golladay (hip) remains sidelined. Stafford was 24-for-42 for 297 yards, one touchdown and one interception in Week 1 against these same Bears.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Donald Dec 2 9:33pm ET

Los Angeles Rams DL Aaron Donald (not injury related) and LB Terrell Lewis (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Dec. 2. OL Brian Allen (knee) and DL Sebastian Joseph-Day (hip) were limited participants.

From TheHuddle

Pittsburgh Steelers Dec 2 9:00pm ET

The Pittsburgh Steelers Defense played well in a 19-14 win over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 12. Pittsburgh managed three sacks and forced two turnovers, one of which was an interception which Joe Haden returned 14 yards for a touchdown. The Steelers benefitted from facing backup quarterback Robert Griffin III instead of reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson but fantasy gamers who started them won't complain. It wasn't all good for the Steelers, however, as they lost Bud Dupree to what they fear is a season-ending knee injury. Pittsburgh's defense will be an excellent play again in Week 13 against the Washington Football Team.

From RotoBaller

Jeremiah Ledbetter Dec 2 8:53pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Jeremiah Ledbetter was signed off the practice squad to the active roster Wednesday, Dec. 2.

From TheHuddle

Johnathan Joseph Dec 2 8:33pm ET

Arizona Cardinals OL Justin Pugh (ankle), S Jalen Thompson (ankle) and S Charles Washington (groin) didn't participate in practice Wednesday, Dec. 2. DE Zach Allen (ankle), TE Dan Arnold (knee), CB Johnathan Joseph (ankle, knee), DT Rashard Lawrence (calf) and LB Tanner Vallejo (concussion) were limited. OL Justin Murray (hand) practiced in full.

From TheHuddle

DeAndre Hopkins Dec 2 8:23pm ET

Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins (non-injury) was a non-participant at practice Wednesday, Dec. 2.

Fantasy Spin: This is routine for Hopkins, who will need to be in lineups as a WR1 despite the tough Week 13 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.

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Chuck Clark Dec 2 8:13pm ET

Baltimore Ravens S Chuck Clark made 13 total tackles (five solo), including a tackle for a loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers Wednesday, Dec. 2.

From TheHuddle

James Washington Dec 2 8:03pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers WR James Washington caught two of his three targets for 19 yards Wednesday, Dec. 2, against the Baltimore Ravens.

Fantasy Spin: The stat line doesn't do much for fantasy managers, but Washington did make a key grab late in the game to help seal the Steelers' win on a day several other receivers struggled with drops. Washington is worth a waiver grab in deep leagues and should be watched closely next week.

From TheHuddle

T.J. Watt Dec 2 8:03pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt recorded seven total tackles and two sacks against the Baltimore Ravens Wednesday, Dec. 2.

From TheHuddle

Joe Haden Dec 2 8:03pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers CB Joe Haden returned an interception for a 14-yard touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens Wednesday, Dec. 2. He also made two tackles.

From TheHuddle

Vince Williams Dec 2 8:03pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers LB Vince Williams recovered a fumble and made two total tackles against the Baltimore Ravens Wednesday, Dec. 2.

From TheHuddle

Tyus Bowser Dec 2 8:03pm ET

Baltimore Ravens LB Tyus Bowser intercepted a pass in the end zone and returned it 11 yards Wednesday, Dec. 2, against the Baltimore Ravens.

From TheHuddle