Ravens beat Steelers 17-14
by M. Stewart
It's pretty strange for an NFL team to get beaten in every phase of a game and walk away thinking it should have won, but that's what happened to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at Heinz Field. The Steelers were up 14-10 with less than a minute left in the game, but Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco needed only 2o seconds to shred the defense and put the ball in the end zone for the winning score.
On the day, Flacco completed 24 of 37 passes for 256 yards. Not stellar numbers, but good enough to beat a Steelers team that could manage only 224 yards in total offense. The real killer came when Pittsburgh came away with zero points after Baltimore turned the ball over twice in the third quarter deep in their own territory. In both cases, the offense couldn't move the ball, leaving Jeff Reed to miss two field goals. Reed bounced one off the right upright, but the second wasn't even close.
A great Pittsburgh goal-line stand near the end of the game should have ended it, but the Ravens defense stopped the Steelers cold inside their own 10 yard line, forcing a punt from the end zone. After a penalty, the Ravens took the ball on the Steelers' 40 yard line and marched to the end zone without resistance. Flacco's receivers were so wide open that it looked like the Steelers defense already had gone to the locker room.
Given the way the defense has played this year, who would have thought that the game would turn on Dick LeBeau's unit breaking down at the end? The last minute of the game looked like someone turned the clock back to last year, when the defense made a habit of losing fourth quarter leads. But the credit ultimately goes to the Ravens, who beat a good 3-0 football team on its home turf.
Baltimore's offensive line gave Flacco time to throw all day. The Steelers came away with just one sack; otherwise, they put little to no pressure on the quarterback. On the other side of the ball, the Ravens defense put pressure on Charlie Batch enough to make him hurry several throws, but Steelers offensive line did a good job of keeping Batch off the ground. While they allowed Rashard Mendenhall a respectable 79 yards rushing, they didn't give up a game-breaking run.
In short, the better team won on Sunday, but only by the skin of its teeth. The Steelers have little to be ashamed of after starting 3-1 without their star quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger will have plenty of time to prepare for his return against the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 17, and if Ben is even close to sharp this season, the Steelers should be a playoff team come January.
And hats off to the Browns for beating the Cincinnati Bengals at home on Sunday. The Brownies pulled out their first win of the year, while dropping the Bengals to 2-2. The only time I don't wish Cleveland well is when they play the Steelers, but otherwise, I always pull for them to win. Good job, Browns!