NFL Nation: 2013 Week 7 BAL at PIT Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Pittsburgh Steelers

October, 20, 2013

PITTSBURGH -- A few thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers' 19-16 win over the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field:

What it means: In a word, everything. The Steelers needed consecutive wins to build their confidence and to stay relevant in both the AFC North and conference playoff picture. They didn’t make it easy on their fans or coach Mike Tomlin, but they gritted out their first regular-season win over Baltimore at Heinz Field since 2009. Emmanuel Sanders nearly won the game with a late kickoff return for a touchdown. After officials ruled he had stepped out at the Steelers’ 34-yard line, Ben Roethlisberger methodically moved the offense down the field and Shaun Suisham won the game with a 42-yard field goal on the final play. Roethlisberger led the Steelers back from a fourth-quarter deficit or tie for the 28th time in the regular season. He also got the better of Joe Flacco, who had directed late drives to beat the Steelers at home in two of the previous three years.

Stock watch: More than a quarter into the season, the Steelers discovered that they indeed have a running game. Rookie Le’Veon Bell rushed for 93 yards, justifying the praise Tomlin lavished on him last week. Bell averaged more than 5 yards per carry in just his third career game and first one against the Ravens while outplaying Ravens Pro Bowler Ray Rice. Bell’s big game allowed the Steelers to finally snap an 11-game streak of rushing for fewer than 100 yards. It also gave them a significant advantage in time of possession.

Playing it (too) safe: The Steelers hadn’t allowed a touchdown in eight quarters, which is why they didn’t get overly aggressive after the Ravens attempted an unsuccessful onside kick early in the fourth quarter. But recent history should have taught Tomlin to go for the knockout blow when he had the chance. After Suisham’s third field goal of the game increased the Steelers’ lead to 16-9, Flacco worked his patented Heinz Field magic. The Ravens quarterback coolly led the Ravens on a 16-play, 73-yard drive that he capped with a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Clark. Flacco completed 9 of 10 passes for 60 yards on the only touchdown drive allowed by the Steelers.

What’s next: The Steelers travel across the country to play at Oakland, where the Raiders are in perpetual rebuilding mode but have given the Steelers problems in recent years. The Raiders have beaten their historic rivals two times in a row in Oakland, including last year, when defensive breakdowns doomed the Steelers to a 34-31 loss. The Steelers have lost three of their last four games to Oakland dating back to 2006. The Raiders are 2-4 and off this week.

Rapid Reaction: Baltimore Ravens

October, 20, 2013

PITTSBURGH -- A few thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 19-16 loss at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

What it means: The Ravens (3-4) lost for the third time in four weeks to fall two games behind the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals (5-2). The Ravens also become the first defending Super Bowl champion to have a losing record through seven games since the 2006 Steelers. It marked the first time the Ravens lost at Heinz Field in the regular season since 2009.

Slipping at the end: In another close finish in this AFC North rivalry, the Ravens' secondary couldn't stop the Steelers in the final two minutes of the game. Corey Graham's missed tackle led to a 13-yard gain by Antonio Brown. Then, Brown beat cornerback Jimmy Smith on an 11-yard slant to put the Steelers in field goal range. Shaun Suisham's 42-yard field goal won it as time expired.

Stock watch: Falling -- pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil. He committed an unnecessary roughness penalty (pushing down Ben Roethlisberger after the play) and a face mask penalty (which negated a drive-ending sack of Roethlisberger) that contributed 30 yards to a 70-yard drive that ended in a field goal, pushing the Steelers' lead to 13-6 in the third quarter.

Fourth-quarter Flacco: Joe Flacco, who has two game-winning drives in Pittsburgh, tied the game at 16 when he hit Dallas Clark for a 1-yard touchdown pass. He went 9-of-10 for 60 yards on that drive.

Curious decision: After cutting the lead to 13-9 early in the fourth quarter, the Ravens attempted an onside kick. But kicker Justin Tucker didn't hit the ball hard enough and touched it before it had gone 10 yards, giving the Steelers the ball at the Baltimore 38-yard line. The Ravens held Pittsburgh to a field goal, which put the Steelers ahead 16-9.

Critical miss: Flacco had Jacoby Jones open deep and would've had a touchdown -- and a third-quarter lead -- had he thrown the ball longer to the wide receiver. But Flacco underthrew Jones, and cornerback William Gay broke it up inside the 5-yard line.

Struggling run defense: The Ravens gave up 141 yards rushing a week after giving up 140 yards on the ground to the Packers. It's disturbing that the Ravens gave up so many yards to the 31st-ranked rushing team in the NFL. The Steelers gained 82 yards in the first half, the most yards rushing they've had in any game this season.

What's next: The Ravens head into their bye week before playing at the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 3.




Thursday, 9/18
Sunday, 9/21
Monday, 9/22