The Steelers suddenly have themselves a winning streak.
This is how Coach Mike Tomlin saw his team’s task in this version of Steelers-Ravens: “We really just need to focus on being a tough team to beat. Doing that is within our control. We have to minimize the penalties that destroy drives on offense, and we have to be able to operate defensively and communicate and have assignment execution in the middle of a hostile environment. I love playing at Heinz Field. I love playing in front of our fans. That makes it a hostile environment for the opposing offense, but we as defenders who are on the field at the same time have to do a good job of communicating in the midst of that as well.”
No one expected this game to be pretty and NFL Point Spreads had this to say about it. “The team with the least terrible offensive line wins. Pittsburgh has a slight edge, and that’s all it’ll need to win on Sunday.” Good call if I say so myself.
The Steelers held a 10-6 lead at halftime, and after forcing the Ravens to punt on the opening possession of the third quarter, the offense drove to a first-and-10 at the Baltimore 11-yard line. A touchdown there gives the Steelers an 11-point lead and makes the Ravens play a little more wide open, possibly forces the Ravens to take more chances both offensively and defensively. But the Steelers settled for another field goal, and so the game remained a nail-biter until the end.
Nine of the previous 12 meetings between these teams, including playoffs, were decided by four points or fewer, and now that’s 10 of the last 13. That happens to be the exact difference between scoring a touchdown and settling for a field goal. The Steelers finished 1-for-3 in the red zone against a Baltimore defense that came into the game tied for first in the NFL with Kansas City in red zone defense. The Ravens offense, tied for 13th in the NFL in red zone efficiency, finished 1-for-2.
What Went Right? On the Steelers’ second offensive possession, coordinator Todd Haley dug into the bag of tricks on a drive that covered 60 yards in 10 plays and ended with the touchdown that created a 7-0 lead. On two straight plays, the Steelers lined up in their version of the Wildcat, with Ben Roethlisberger split wide to the left and Le’Veon Bell taking the direct snap. On the first, Bell handed to Antonio Brown who ran for 5 yards, and on the second Bell kept and gained 6 to convert a third-and-2. On third-and-1 from the Ravens 3-yard line, Roethlisberger ended the drive with a shovel pass to Heath Miller for the touchdown.
The Ravens faced a third-and-1 from the Pittsburgh 26-yard line late in the first quarter, and they sent RB Bernard Pierce around right end trying to get the first down. CB William Gay disrupted the blocking andSteve McLendon made the play for a 1-yard loss. The Ravens settled for a 46-yard field goal to make it 7-3 at the end of the first quarter.
With Markus Wheaton out because of finger surgery, Derek Moye has been active for the past couple of games. On a third-and-5 from the Ravens’ 38-yard line early in the second quarter, Moye went high in the air over the middle to pull down a pass from Roethlisberger for a 19-yard gain to the 19-yard line. Moye was flipped into the air by safety Matt Elam, but he held onto the ball after landing on his back.
The Steelers defense rose up following Heath Miller’s lost fumble late in the first half. The Ravens were able to move the ball 18 yards on five plays and settled for a 38-yard field goal that made the score, 10-6, at halftime. On third down, Cam Heyward pressured Joe Flacco into an incomplete pass.
On the three plays following the offside penalty on Troy Polamalu that gave the Ravens a first down, Polamalu broke up a pass on first down, and then tackled Ray Rice for a 2-yard loss. On third down, William Gay broke up a pass in the end zone, and the Ravens punted.
Steelers – Ravens Game Gallery
What Went Wrong? The Steelers’ opening possession included a false start penalty on Marcus Gilbert, but following two runs by Le’Veon Bell that gained 14 yards it set up a third-and-1. On third down, Ben Roethlisberger tried to get the ball to Heath Miller, who appeared to be held by safety James Ihedigbo, but nothing was called.
In the last minute of the first half, Ben Roethlisberger completed a pass to Heath Miller, who after gaining 24 yards had the ball stripped out by LB Daryl Smith. Matt Elam recovered for the Ravens and his 7-yard return gave the Ravens the ball at the Steelers 38-yard line with 39 seconds left in the half of a 10-3 game.
The Ravens faced a third-and-11 on their opening possession of the second half, but Joe Flacco was allowed to escape the containment around the defensive right side for a 12-yard gain and a first down.
On a third-and-short for the Ravens early in the third quarter, a sack of Joe Flacco by Jason Worilds and Lawrence Timmons was nullified by an offside penalty on Troy Polamalu.
With 2:56 left in the third quarter, the Steelers held a 13-6 lead, but they were 1-for-3 in the red zone against a Ravens defense that came into the game ranked No. 1 in the NFL in that category. A personal foul penalty on Elvis Dumervil had given the Steelers a first down at the Ravens 11-yard line late, but on their three plays from there, Le’Veon Bell ran for 7 yards, then lost 1 yard, and then a false start penalty on Antonio Brown preceded an incomplete pass to Emmanuel Sanders.
Following the 1-yard touchdown pass to Ravens TE Dallas Clark that tied the game, 16-16, with 1:58 left in the fourth quarter, Emmanuel Sanders took the kickoff 7 yards deep in the end zone and appeared to return it for a touchdown. But the official on the sideline in front of the Steelers bench ruled Sanders had stepped out of bounds at the Pittsburgh 37-yard line.
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