Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ravens vs. Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger's Late Strike Sends Pittsburgh On

Baltimore rode a 21-7 lead into halftime at Pittsburgh, then spent the next two quarters in meltdown mode.

The Ravens' three-turnover third quarter helped lift Pittsburgh back in the game. Then, in the final two minutes with the score knotted at 24, Ben Roethlisberger found rookie receiver Antonio Brown on a 58-yard strike on 3rd-and-19. Rashard Mendenhall covered the last few yards to paydirt on ensuing runs for the game-winning score and a 31-24 Steelers win.

Baltimore appeared to have Pittsburgh in trouble just prior to the Roethlisberger-to-Brown strike -- had the Ravens gotten a stop there, they would've had the ball back with a chance to win. Instead, in the area where the Ravens were most vulnerable all season long -- defending the deep pass -- Pittsburgh overwhelmed them. T.J. Houshmandzadeh's fourth-down drop on the following drive put the ultimate nail in the coffin.

Pittsburgh will play the winner of New England/New York at 6:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 23.

• What once was a game the Ravens could have completely taken over began to turn before their eyes -- and the crowd at Heinz Field awakened -- thanks to the three clumsy turnovers. The first, a fumble by Ray Rice, was his first fumble of the season. The Steelers capitalized on that mistake with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to tight end Heath Miller to pull within 21-14.

Joe Flacco, on the next possession, threw an interception, which resulted in another touchdown -- this time, Roethlisberger connected with wide receiver Hines Ward for an 8-yard score. A snap-exchange between Flacco and center Matt Birk then would lead to another lost fumble on the following drive. Fortunately for the Ravens' offense, their defense held the Steelers to a field goal.

• After a holding call on Ravens wide receiver Marcus Smith canceled a touchdown off a punt return by cornerback Lardarius Webb, Baltimore had to settle for a field goal to tie the contest with 3:48 left in regulation. That kick only came after Anquan Boldin dropped a sure touchdown on third-and-goal.

• The Ravens started the game with great field position after Webb returned the opening kickoff 52 yards. But Webb's return was challenged by the Steelers, and the play was reversed because Webb's right elbow hit the ground -- the Ravens started from their 35.

• Flacco was aggressive in the first half, targeting the middle of the field with tight end Todd Heap. On a critical third-and-7 on the Steelers 39, Heap dropped what would have been a first-down catch -- Flacco, though, missed out on wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who was wide open in the flat with miles in front of him.

• The Ravens answered an early Mendenhall touchdown with a 10-play, penalty-filled scoring drive of their own. Rice topped it off with a 14-yard touchdown run -- on that drive, the Ravens threw the ball seven times and ran three times, showing their aggressiveness.

• On the first play of the Steelers' second possession, Roethlisberger pump faked twice and was hit from behind by linebacker Terrell Suggs, causing a fumble. No whistle was blown, and after a standstill, Ravens defensive end Cory Redding had the awareness to pick up the ball and run into the end zone. The Steelers challenged the fumble call and lost. That made it 14 points in 27 seconds for Baltimore. Suggs recorded three sacks in the game.

• The Ravens caused another turnover with 8:57 left in the first half. Mendenhall fumbled at the Steelers 16 and his turnover resulted into a 4-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to Heap on third-and-4 with 5:46 left on the clock.

No comments: