Ravens experience defensive renaissance vs. Steelers (plus injury notes)

On a day the Ravens finished with their second-lowest yards total of the season, they were able to come away with a critical divisional win over the Steelers because of their defense.

The unit has garnered attention all year for the things it hasn’t done well rather than the things it has. The Ravens entered the contest ranked 27th in the league in yards allowed, but climbed two spots after holding Pittsburgh to 311 yards and 10 points.

It was the the second-fewest yards and points permitted by Baltimore in a single game this season. The Ravens allowed just 177 passing yards and 134 on the ground.

“It was a good numbers game and we haven’t had probably too many of those this year,” coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “I know we’re in the top 10 in points (allowed) now and we’re in the top 10 in offense in points scored, so that’s a pretty important stat. The rest of them are indicators of where you’re at and what you’re doing. We’re right at the top in takeaways, we’re right at the top in red zone, so those are very important.

“Obviously, we did a better job against the run and passing numbers and those kind of things. First downs were down. All those kind of things are positive, but again, every week kind of stands on its own.”

The Ravens were both the playmaking defense they have been this year and the stuffing one they haven’t. The team finished with three sacks and three forced turnovers.

Harbaugh seemed most upbeat about how the unit passed the eye test.

“The thing I’m most excited about is how hard they played, how physical they were and how they just kept stepping up in a tough game,” he said. “It was a classic Pittsburgh game, it was a classic game where you’ve got to go back and get another stop and any misstep by either team, be it a turnover or be it a big play or something like that, one score was going to make the difference in the game, and they just kept coming out and getting stops over the course of the game. Right to the very end they did that.

“And who’s out there? ... We’ve got so many guys that weren’t in the game playing and yet, guys were stepping up. That’s probably true for both sides of the ball and special teams. ... It was a team effort, it was team defense.”

Harbaugh also provided updates on the Ravens’ injured players during his Monday press conference.

Harbaugh said tight end Dennis Pitta, who was removed in Sunday’s first half after suffering a concussion, showed no symptoms by the end of the game. Harbaugh said Pitta was feeling good today, but has to go through concussion protocol before it’s determined whether he can play next week.

Nose tackle Terrence Cody didn’t play Sunday after tweaking his elbow in practice. Harbaugh thought Cody was going to be fine, but the swelling never went down enough for the defensive lineman to play.

Safety James Ihedigbo suffered a neck strain, but Harbaugh said he should be fine. Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe continues to play despite his thumb problems. Newly acquired cornerback Chris Johnson tweaked his hamstring on a punt return, but Harbaugh expects him to be fine.