Ravens vs. Steelers: Score, Grades and Analysis
The Pittsburgh Steelers got their second win in a row in Week 7 after an important 19-16 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
With the loss, the Ravens have put themselves in rather bad company, as ESPN Stats & Info notes on Twitter.
Ravens are 1st defending champ with losing record through 7 games since 2006 Steelers— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 20, 2013
When you think of AFC North football, a game like this typically comes to mind. Neither offense was able to get into a groove, and points came at a premium. Both teams relied on having a steady run game, with the occasional big-play throw sprinkled in.
You wouldn't expect anything less from a Ravens-Steelers battle. These two have had some dogfights over the years, and this week wasn't any different. NFL Live's Trey Wingo put it best.
Many things change in the NFL. Close games between the Ravens and Steelers....never change— trey wingo (@wingoz) October 20, 2013
The first score of the game came on a three-yard shovel pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Heath Miller.
That touchdown catch was Miller's first of the season and the 40th of his career. That puts him in rarefied air, per Dale Lolley of the Observer-Reporter.
Heath Miller TD catch on shovel pass. Now just fifth player in #Steelers history with 40 TD receptions in career— Dale Lolley (@dlolleyor) October 20, 2013
From that point on, the defenses ratcheted up, especially after the opposing offense got across the 50-yard line.
Until a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Dallas Clark, the Ravens and Steelers exchanged field goals. Shaun Suisham and Justin Tucker went back and forth, with neither man blinking.
Pittsburgh had a 10-6 lead going into the half. Another Suisham field goal made it 13-6 in the third quarter.
Then things got interesting.
Baltimore had yet another drive stifled inside the red zone, and Tucker kicked a 32-yard field goal to get the Ravens to within four, 13-9.
On the ensuing kickoff, John Harbaugh opted to gamble and go for the onside kick. The Steelers would recover and get themselves in prime scoring position.
That drive eventually ended in a field goal to put Pittsburgh up a touchdown, 16-9, with about 10 minutes remaining in the fourth.
Suffice it to say, some, such as NFL.com's Aditi Kinkhabwala, were questioning Harbaugh's decision to go for the onside.
Guess John Harbaugh thought he'd catch the Steelers off guard w/ that onside kick. 13 mins left, down 4?— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) October 20, 2013
That's the kind of thing that will either make you look like a mad genius or just plain mad. You do have to wonder what was going through Harbaugh's mind in that situation. There was a lot of time left on the clock, and his offense just put together a good drive.
The onside kick also comes a week after Harbaugh chose to pass in the dying seconds of the first half against the Green Bay Packers. Flacco fumbled, which led to a Packers field goal as time expired. The Ravens would lose, 19-17.
Getting that field position was a major boost to a Steelers offense that had struggled after Miller's touchdown grab.
The Ravens had the perfect answer, though, as they had a 16-play, 73-yard drive that took 8:01 off the clock, capped off by the one-yard pass to Clark. They used a lot of short passes and runs from Ray Rice to keep eating up the yards and watching the time tick down, eventually tying it up, 16-16.
Baltimore did leave two minutes for the Steelers to try to get the go-ahead score. Emmanuel Sanders took the kickoff about seven yards deep in the end zone. Many had to wonder what he was thinking, until he ended up taking the return to the house. However, he stepped out at the Pittsburgh 37-yard line, which still gave the team good field position.
The Steelers made the most of their good fortune again, this time getting the game-winning field goal on a 42-yarder from Suisham.
Ian Eagle had a great call on the CBS broadcast, via Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke.
"Suisham ... sweeps the leg!" -- Enjoyed that call by Ian Eagle.— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) October 20, 2013
The win puts the Steelers at 2-4 on the season, while the Ravens drop to 3-4. The AFC North continues to be the most competitive division in the league, as no team has set itself apart from the rest. Either of these two could possibly be on top by season's end.
Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers: A
Le'Veon Bell was a workhorse in this game, carrying the ball 19 times for 93 yards, and Pittsburgh was able to eat time off the clock and keep Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense off the field.
Getting a steady running game is vital for an offense like Pittsburgh's. Just look at how bad the Steelers were with Felix Jones and Jonathan Dwyer in the backfield. Now with Bell, this offense is looking effective.
Shaun Suisham, Pittsburgh Steelers: A+
Heinz Field is quite possibly the most difficult of any NFL stadium for kickers. Many have fallen as they try to deal with the swirling winds caused by the stadium's architecture.
Shaun Suisham had so such problems.
He was a perfect 4-of-4, including that huge game-winner. In Pittsburgh, you can never be sure about any field goals beyond about 30 yards. But Suisham was cool, calm and collected the entire game and stepped up every time his number was called.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens: B+
Joe Flacco did just about everything he could to win. In games like these, it's always hard to accumulate yards through the air, so going 24-of-34 for 215 yards and a touchdown has to be taken into context. That's like breaking 300 yards and multiple touchdowns in any other game.
More importantly, Flacco didn't turn the ball over. He made the right decisions for the most part, and when he missed with his passes, he didn't end up costing his team points. It was a gritty dogfight, and Flacco performed relatively well considering the grind-it-out nature of the game plan.
John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens: C-
You could understand if John Harbaugh would have gone for an onside kick with a few minutes left. But with 13 minutes to go in the game? That onside kick looked like an unnecessary desperation move.
It's unfair to make a direct relation to that decision and the Ravens losing, but that kick set the Steelers up perfectly for three points. And when you end up losing by three points, you're going to get second-guessed, a lot.
The Baltimore Ravens have a bye week to sort out some of their problems. The Pittsburgh Steelers will be traveling to Oakland for what could be a tricky game against Terrelle Pryor and the Raiders next Sunday.
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