Sunday, December 2, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Steelers 23, Ravens 20
By Jamison Hensley
BALTIMORE -- My thoughts on the the Pittsburgh Steelers' 23-20 victory at the Baltimore Ravens:
What it means: On Shaun Suisham's 42-yard game-winner as time expired, the Steelers (7-5) stayed in the thick of the AFC playoff race by upsetting the Ravens. It ended the Ravens' three-game winning streak against Pittsburgh and stopped Baltimore's 15-game winning streak at home, which was the longest in the NFL. The Steelers are also the last team to beat the Ravens at home. The loss dropped the Ravens to 9-3 and hurt their chances of securing a top-two seed in the AFC and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Batch outshines Flacco: After flopping last Sunday, third-string quarterback Charlie Batch led the Steelers to victory. He completed all five passes on the final drive for 45 yards to get the Steelers in field-goal range. Batch finished 25-of-36 for 276 yards. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was streaky throughout, finishing 16 of 34 for 188 yards.
Taking it back: After Ed Reed intercepted Charlie Batch in the end zone, Steelers linebacker James Harrison made his biggest play of the season, stripping Joe Flacco in Baltimore territory midway through the fourth quarter. That led to a 7-yard touchdown pass to Heath Miller, who scored by stretching forward and hitting the pylon with the ball. It tied the game at 20-20 -- third tie of the game -- with 7:24 left in the fourth quarter.
Converting off early turnovers: The Steelers didn't turn over the ball eight times like they did last Sunday, but they paid for the times they gave up the ball early. The Ravens scored their first two touchdowns off Pittsburgh turnovers. Four plays after Antonio Brown's interception, Flacco hit Anquan Boldin for a 28-yard touchdown. Six plays after Emmanuel Sanders' fumble (he lost the ball with no one between him and the end zone), Ray Rice scored on a 34-yard run, his longest rushing touchdown since Week 17 of last season.
Taking advantage of Taylor's absence: Ike Taylor, the Steelers' top cornerback, injured his right ankle in the first series and didn't return. The Ravens picked on Taylor's replacement, Cortez Allen, who was flagged for a 30-yard pass interference penalty (which led to a field goal) and was beaten on a 28-yard touchdown pass to Boldin. Taylor was seen on the sideline with a walking boot.
Big miss for Steelers: The worst mistake by Batch came in the final minute of the first half, when he overthrew a wide-open Mike Wallace in the end zone. Thinking he had safety help, Ravens cornerback Chykie Brown let Wallace go by him. Batch then threw a pass that sailed wildly over Wallace's head. Of course, it's assumed that Wallace would've caught an on-target pass.
Ravens crack in red zone: The Steelers tied the game on Jonathan Dwyer's 16-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. It was the first touchdown allowed inside the Ravens' 20-yard line in four games, dating back to Oct. 21. Baltimore, which ranked first in red-zone defense, hadn't allowed a team into the end zone in 10 straight possessions inside the 20.
What's next: The Ravens take the short trip down the interstate to play at the Washington Redskins. The Steelers return home to face the San Diego Chargers.