The rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers has been highlighted by close, hard-fought defensive battles that always seem to be decided in the fourth quarter. The games between the two teams are always great football, but in the head coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco era, the Ravens have not been on the winning side of the rivalry often—especially in close games.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has played some of his best games against the Ravens, and last night’s game was really no exception. The only difference is that Flacco, facing an opponent he has struggled against in the past, also played one of his best games and was able to lead the Ravens to a last-minute victory.
The game started out exactly how people would have expected. In the first half, the Ravens and the Steelers both scored field goals in a defensive battle and were tied 6-6 with less than three minutes remaining in the half. Flacco led the Ravens on a five-play, 32-yard drive that put them ahead 9-6 at the half.
Starting in the second half, the Steelers came out with a sense of urgency and started testing the Ravens corners deeper down the field. The Steelers had much more success moving the ball, but an interception by Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs stopped a potential Steelers scoring drive and led to a 12-play, 71-yard touchdown drive by the Ravens.
After the Ravens’ touchdown, the Steelers continued testing the Ravens corners, and the Ravens had a hard time pressuring Roethlisberger. As a result, the Steelers scored two consecutive touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and with only 2:24 left on the clock, Flacco took the field with the score 16-20 and engineered a 13-play, 92-yard drive that ended with a 26-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Torrey Smith.
In many ways, this defensive battle was exactly what people were expecting, but not many people would have bet that Flacco would have—or could have—led the Ravens on a 92-yard touchdown drive against the Steelers defense with only two minutes remaining.
Not many analysts were picking the Ravens going into this game, despite the thrashing they gave to the Steelers in Week 1. The biggest reason is because it’s hard to figure this team out. The Ravens are full of surprises, and not always good ones. We always learn something new about them whether they win or lose, so let’s take a look at what we learned from the Ravens’ 23-20 win over the Steelers.