Steelers vs. Ravens: Ranking Ravens' 7 Forced Turnovers in Week 1 Win
The stars of the Ravens defense shined and provided more material for their already-lengthy highlight reels. A dominating effort from the front seven was the cornerstone of a record-setting performance that will not soon be forgotten by the Baltimore fans.
The Steelers have historically fared well in the end when falling behind early to the Ravens. This time, however, they could not emerge from a mistake-laden quicksand.
When seven giveaways happen in a game, the fans are treated to every breed of turnover that exists. Some were routine, others catastrophic and some were just plain ugly.
With that criteria in mind, here's a ranking of the worst Steelers' turnovers in a game that etched a grotesque opening chapter of their 2011 NFL season.
7. Ray Lewis' Forced Fumble
Another year, another forced turnover for Ray Lewis.
Pittsburgh posed one of its few scoring threats in the fourth quarter but was quickly laid to rest when Mewelde Moore fumbled in Ravens territory.
Moore had managed to get past Ray Lewis but not completely. Lewis stripped the ball from behind, and rookie defensive lineman Pernell McPhee recovered it and now has some nice mantle fodder for his home.
6. Terrell Suggs' Second Sack and Forced Fumble
I had mentioned before that Suggs had a favorable matchup against Pittsburgh, and he certainly took advantage of what he was given.
Already with a tremendous afternoon, Suggs put the cherry on top by forcing Ben Roethlisberger's fifth turnover of the game.
In the waning moments of the fourth quarter, Suggs sacked Roethlisberger and forced a fumble that was immediately pounced on by Cory Redding.
If there was ever a moment in the game when Pittsburgh felt happy about its offensive line, this probably was not it.
5. Ed Reed's First Interception
Like almost every turnover in this game, this one started with Haloti Ngata.
Ngata penetrated the line and was hot on the trail of a scampering Ben Roethlisberger, who hurled a pass to the end zone, thinking he had tight end Heath Miller.
Reed readjusted while Roethlisberger rolled out of the pocket and took away the only throwing lane he had left.
Just another day at the office for Reed.
4. Ed Reed's Second Interception
Same song, second verse for Ed Reed.
This time, though, the pressure came from Cory Redding. The right side of the pocket collapsed on Ben Roethlisberger, who made an erratic throw with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
That throw found its way into the chest of Ed Reed, which may as well have been a nail in the Steelers' coffin.
3. Terrell Suggs' First Sack and Forced Fumble
Some turnovers are forced in the garbage stages of the game, and there were plenty of them on Sunday.
However, Suggs' first forced fumble was not that. It was a game changer.
With a 7-0 lead, Suggs started a recurring theme and forced the first of two Ben Roethlisberger fumbles. The shortened field led to the Ravens' second score of the game, which would wind up being all they would need to defeat the reigning AFC champions.
2. Ray Lewis' Interception
Somebody forgot to tell the Ravens that Ben Roethlisberger had been riding a streak of 158 passes without an interception going into Week 1.
Or maybe they did, and that was all the motivation they needed.
Ray Lewis' interception was the result of sloppy Pittsburgh play. Many are quick to dismiss tipped interceptions as fluky, but in many cases, the end result is justified. This was no exception.
Haloti Ngata manhandled center David Legursky into the backfield, threw up an arm and connected with a rushed Roethlisberger pass attempt. Ray Lewis snatched Ngata's gift out of the air and forced one of the ugliest of the Steelers' seven turnovers.
1. Haloti Ngata's Forced Fumble and Fumble Recovery
His stat line may not be as pretty as Ed Reed's or Ray Lewis', but there was no doubt that Haloti Ngata led the Ravens' defense on Sunday.
His hit on Rashard Mendenhall on the first play from scrimmage in the second half is the perfect example.
As a result, three things collapsed: the offensive line, Mendenhall and the ball after Ngata lifted his hulking weight off of it.
Either a blown assignment by Doug Legursky or a bad play-call left Haloti Ngata unblocked, and he promptly steamrolled his way into the Steelers' backfield. The result: his very own tally in the turnover column.
And that tally deserves an asterisk, because that was the ugliest play of an ugly afternoon for Pittsburgh.