Ravens-Steelers: Joe Flacco Surprises in OT Loss to Pittsburgh

Bleacher Report Senior Writer ISeptember 30, 2008

The Pittsburgh Steelers rallied and beat the Baltimore Ravens, 23-20. This was going to be a very competitive game. Everyone knew it, because the Ravens and Steelers have the best defenses in football.

Also, Baltimore and Pittsburgh have very dangerous rushing offenses. The Ravens have three very dangerous weapons in Willis McGahee, Le'Ron McClain, and Ray Rice. The Steelers have Willie Parker, Mewelde Moore, and Rashard Mendenhall.

The Ravens and Steelers both have some incredibly dominant defensive players. The Ravens have Ray Lewis, Bart Scott, Terrell Suggs, Ed Reed and Chris McAlister, while Pittsburgh has James Harrison, James Farrior, Troy Polamalu, and Casey Hampton.

But on to the game.

Earlier this week, the Ravens got an easier win to get. Both Willie Parker and Casey Hampton wouldn't play. Parker has been one of the most consistent backs in the game in the last few seasons. Last year, he had 1,316 yards. He had 1,000 yards the last three seasons.

He started the season well this year. In the first two games, he ran for 243 yards and three touchdowns. However, in Week Three, he rushed for just 20 yards and left with an injury.

Hampton has been the best defensive tackle in the game recently. This year, he has played just two games and made three tackles. So, the Ravens had a much better shot at winning.

However, in the beginning of the game, it looked like the Steelers were not at all affected by injuries. On the first drive, the Ravens were pushed back two yards while the Steelers drove to the Baltimore 31-yard line and settled for a 48-yard Jeff Reed field goal.

This was also a big game for Ravens rookie quarterback Joe Flacco. It was just his third career start, and he was looking for the first rookie QB to start 3-0 since some quarterback, he was pretty good, Elway or something like that!

He did not look like Elway at all.

Through the first two drives, he drove the Ravens a total of zero yards. But, the Ravens' defense came up big, as always. On the first play of the ensuing Steelers drive, Haloti Ngata picked off Ben Roethlisberger, and the Ravens had the ball at midfield.

Flacco looked like a poised veteran from then on. He drove Baltimore to the Steelers' 15-yard line, and Matt Stover made a 32-yard field goal. After a first six minutes of stalling offensive football, Joe Flacco and the Ravens took charge.

The Ravens started on the Steelers' 49-yard line, Flacco made some pinpoint passes and drove to the Steelers' eight-yard line, and Matt Stover made another field goal, this one from 25 yards away.The Ravens, with the clear momentum shift, stopped the Steelers again.

After a pass that went for 13 yards and drove the Ravens to the Steelers 31, Flacco looked confident. The Ravens were bold enough to air it out. And for that, they were wise. They drove to the Steelers' four-yard line before a touchdown pass to Dan Wilcox.

So, going into the half, it was 13-3, Ravens. Also, Flacco was going into the locker room after his first career touchdown pass. Being the Steelers, they would not go down without a fight.

The Ravens forced a punt right out of the gate. The Ravens and Steelers failed to score until there was 5:49 left in the quarter. After an eight-yard gain, Jarret Johnson lost the game, basically.

He shoved Hines Ward right in front of the referee and was called for unnecessary roughness and was penalized 15 yards. Two plays later, Ben Roethlisberger hit Santonio Holmes for a 38-yard touchdown pass.

One play later, the Ravens had it inside their own 10-yard line. Flacco was pressured and fumbled! LaMarr Woodley picked it up and went the distance for the score. So, in 15 seconds, the Steelers scored 14 points.

To close the third, it was 17-13 Pittsburgh. The Ravens left the field quickly to open the fourth, getting a three-and-out. The Steelers got the ball. They drove all the way down to the Ravens' one-yard line. Jeff Reed booted an easy field goal, giving the Steelers their largest lead in three weeks, at 20-13.

The never-say-die Ravens did not give up. They had the ball at their own 24. After a two-yard run, Joe Flacco made great throws to Derrick Mason (8 catches, 137 yards). He made throws to Mason of 15, 10, and 35 yards.

The 35-yarder took Baltimore to the Steelers' five. Le'Ron McClain capped off the drive with a two-yard TD run, his third in as many games. So, this game went to overtime.

The Ravens elected to receive, but they looked nervous, losing three yards and the Steelers made some nice plays. Roethlisberger made passes of 10 and 31 to Holmes and Mewelde Moore. So, all they had to do now was not lose lots of yardage, and Reed could boot a field goal.

But, they lost four yards the next play on miscommunication between Roethlisberger and Moore. So, if no yardage was gained on 3rd-and-14, Reed would have to boot a tough 52 yarder.

But, Moore gained seven yards. Reed would have a relatively easy 46-yard field goal. He made it easily, and the Steelers won, 23-20.

Joe Flacco: 16-30, 192 yds, 1 TD.

Ben Roethlisberger: 14-24, 191 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT

Le'Ron McClain: 16 rush, 63 yds, 1 TD

Rashard Mendenhall: 9 rush, 30 yds

Derrick Mason: 8 rec, 137 yds

Santonio Holmes: 3 rec, 61 yds, 1 TD

Ray Lewis: 13 tackles

James Harrison: 10 tackles, 2.5 sacks


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