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Sunday, December 5, 2010
Rapid Reaction: Steelers 13, Ravens 10

By James Walker

Here are some early thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers' come-from-behind 13-10 victory over the Baltimore Ravens:

What it means: The Steelers (9-3) take a one-game lead over Baltimore (8-4) with four games remaining and avoid the season sweep to their biggest rival. Pittsburgh has the inside track to win the AFC North. The Steelers also have a shot at home field advantage throughout the playoffs depending on what happens to the New England Patriots (9-2) and New York Jets (9-2) down the stretch.

What I liked: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, despite an injured foot, took a beating but made enough key plays to improve to 8-2 in his career against the Ravens. His touchdown pass to running back Isaac Redman put the Steelers ahead for good. Both teams played hard-nosed defense in a game in which yards were hard to come by. Steelers safety Troy Polamalu caused a key fumble on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to set up Pittsburgh's final score.

What I didn't like: Baltimore collapsed in the fourth quarter. The Ravens seemed in control most of the game and took a touchdown lead into the fourth quarter. But Pittsburgh scored 10 unanswered points in the final period to escape with a win. Baltimore's defense allowed Pittsburgh to drive down the field for the first field goal, and Flacco's fumble set up Pittsburgh's game-winning touchdown. Flacco also short-armed a pass on fourth down that could have set up a field goal. It will be debated whether the Ravens should have tried a field goal with kicker Billy Cundiff to force overtime from Pittsburgh's 32.

Injuries aplenty: There were plenty of injuries throughout the game, which is typical of this physical rivalry. Roethlisberger suffered a broken nose in the first quarter but played through it. Steelers punter Daniel Sepulveda also had a knee injury in the first half and couldn’t punt, and tight end Heath Miller (concussion) was knocked out of the game in the third quarter after a brutal hit by Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain that may be subject to review by the league. For Baltimore, starting tight end Todd Heap had a hamstring injury and was knocked out of the game.

What's next: After another physically taxing game, both teams will try to recuperate and get healthy for next week. Pittsburgh will host the Cincinnati Bengals, who are on an NFL-high nine-game losing streak. The Ravens will travel to play the Houston Texans on "Monday Night Football."