Just 14 days ago, quarterback Ryan Mallet was jobless.
The 27-year old veteran began the 2015 campaign with the Houston Texans, went 1-3 in his four starts with the team and was cut on October 27, two days after missing the team flight to Houston’s Week 7 game in Miami.
With starting quarterback Joe Flacco out for the year with a torn ACL, and backup quarterback Matt Schaub suffering a concussion, Baltimore brought in veterans Jimmy Clausen on November 24, 2015 and Mallett on December 15, 2015. Clausen started Week 14 and Week 15 against Seattle and Kansas City, as Baltimore was out-scored by a combined 69-20.
Mallett started under center for Baltimore yesterday, becoming the team’s fourth starting quarterback of the season (Flacco, Schaub, Clausen, Mallett), and also joining Clausen on the list of quarterbacks who have made starts for two different teams this season.
Week 16 was Mallett’s fifth start of the season, and the seventh of his five-year career, and it also just so happened to be his best one by far. With Pittsburgh just needing two wins to make the postseason, then now-5-10 Ravens stepped up and played spoiler on Sunday afternoon in front of the home crowd at M&T Bank Stadium.
The defense managed to slow down Pittsburgh’s aerial-attack, preventing the big plays and keeping Ben Roethlisberger’s offense to just 303 total yards. Baltimore’s defense put Roethlisberger on the ground for three sacks and picked off two of his passes––and had a 100-yard pick-six before it was overturned because of a costly off-sides penalty.
The defense stepped up to the occasion, but so did Mallett. Despite having less than two weeks with the team and working with this offense, Mallett tossed for a career-high 274 yards with a touchdown and zero interceptions on 28-of-41 passing. Pittsburgh’s secondary struggled, which almost made Mallett look like an All-Pro from the pocket. The front line also did a fantastic job, as Pittsburgh had a hard time putting pressure on Mallett all game.
Baltimore pulled away with a huge 20-17 upset victory, meaning Pittsburgh will now need to win Week 17 (against Cleveland) and the New York Jets will need to lose Week 17 (against Buffalo) in order for the Steelers to have a shot at the postseason.
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