The Pittsburgh Steelers went from underdogs to favorites ahead of this weekend’s showdown against the Baltimore Ravens.
The reason why is an obvious one. Quarterback Lamar Jackson suffered a knee injury that could force him to miss 1-3 weeks and he’s been deemed “less likely” to play on Sunday by head coach John Harbaugh.
That’s turned the Steelers – who are quietly playing significantly better football – into favorites in Week 14. After all, facing backup QB Tyler Huntley instead of a former MVP winner drastically changes things.
But Mike Tomlin isn’t buying into the notion that this will be an easy game at all.
“One thing I know and learn is that I look at it from (Huntley’s) perspective,” the Steelers head coach told reporters on Tuesday. “That’s a guy that had an opportunity to get an extended amount of play last year.”
“He was able to identify tangible areas of his game that he needed to improve, and I’m sure that they were as well.”
In last year’s game in Week 18, Huntley had a terrible performance against the Steelers. He completed 16-of-31 passes for 141 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions. His passer rating sat at a low 37.2
But Pittsburgh understands they’re not likely to face the same version of Tyler Huntley. Just last weekend, the backup quarterback led a 16-play, 91-yard game-winning touchdown drive against the Denver Broncos. Despite a losing record, that’s one of the best defenses in the league.
RG Kevin Zeitler spreading the love around on Tyler Huntley's game winning TD ☺️ pic.twitter.com/v1f2HmaRqk— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) December 5, 2022
“We’re not going to seek comfort or find comfort in the fact that we’ve been in the stadium with him before,” added the Steelers head coach.
In fact, Tomlin compares the Ravens’ situation with what the Steelers are living day in and day out.
“Every week, you guys ask me how and why Kenny (Pickett) is getting better: exposure. I can say the same thing about their quarterback play, and the experience that he gained from a year ago.”
The Steelers are worried about stacking wins right now. Backup quarterback or not, they know the Ravens are not a team to take lightly. Years of history together make that very clear.
Featured image via Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports