Penalties go Ravens’ way in Pittsburgh, drawing Steelers fans’ ire; Chris Wormley gets revenge with sacks | NOTES

On Sunday, the whistles in Pittsburgh blew in the Ravens’ direction.

At Heinz Field, it was the Ravens who benefited from several officiating decisions that drew the boos of Steelers fans attending the game.

In the first quarter on second-and-19 at the Pittsburgh 23-yard-line, the Ravens appeared to be in trouble when a shotgun snap bounced off fullback Patrick Ricard’s leg while he was in motion. The ball tumbled backward before quarterback Lamar Jackson picked it up for what would have been a significant loss.

But the play was whistled dead as officials ruled that the play clock had reached zero before the snap. So the Ravens instead took the snap on second-and-24 from the 28.

In the second quarter on second-and-15 at the Ravens’ 36, Jackson hit running back Devonta Freeman on an 8-yard pass along the right sideline. But after the play, Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt said something to Freeman in front of an official, who flagged Watt for taunting. That penalty helped the Ravens march 99 yards in 16 plays over 10:27, capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Freeman in the second quarter.

In the third quarter on first-and-10 at the Pittsburgh 21, wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud appeared to catch a 32-yard throw from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. But Ravens coach John Harbaugh challenged the ruling of a completion, and the call on the field was overturned. The ruling prompted a “refs you [stink]!” chant from the Pittsburgh crowd.

Two plays later, on third-and-10, Roethlisberger’s pass was tipped away and fell incomplete. But strong safety Chuck Clark picked up the ball and proceeded to return it. Rookie center Kendrick Green grabbed Clark by his facemask and threw him to the ground, drawing a penalty that forced the Steelers to punt on fourth-and-20 from the 11.

Finally, in the fourth quarter on second-and-7 at the Ravens’ 41, Jackson stepped up into the pocket for a deep throw to wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. Although the pass fell incomplete, free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was whistled for pass interference, which gave the Ravens a first-and-10 at Pittsburgh’s 18. That led to Justin Tucker converting a 28-yard field goal for a 13-9 lead with 11:37 left in regulation.

The Steelers ended the game with five penalties for 81 yards, while the Ravens were flagged 10 times for 55 yards.

Former Steeler back as a Raven

Alejandro Villanueva returned to Pittsburgh for the first time as an opponent of the Steelers.

The 6-foot-9, 320-pound left tackle made his 12th start this season for the Ravens. He had spent seven seasons in Pittsburgh before leaving after the 2020 season as a free agent. He joined the Ravens in May 2021 after signing a two-year, $14 million contract.

Villanueva was flagged for holding late in the first quarter, but also helped pave the way for the offense to gain 326 total yards, including 107 on the ground.

Former Raven stands out

Former Raven and current Steelers defensive tackle Chris Wormley sacked Jackson twice — once each in the first two quarters — before adding a half-sack in the second half.

Wormley, who raised his season total to five sacks, was selected by the Ravens in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft and spent three seasons in Baltimore before being traded in March 2020 along with a seventh-round pick in the 2021 draft for the Steelers’ fifth-round choice in the same draft.

It was only the second time in franchise history that the Ravens completed a trade with their AFC North foe.

“When a team trades you within a division, they’re telling you what they think of you,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters after the game. “I hope he always plays like that when he sees them.”

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