Meadville Tribune

November 29, 2013

NFL: Steelers’ comeback falls short

Associated Press
Meadville Tribune

BALTIMORE — Justin Tucker kicked five field goals, and the Baltimore Ravens stopped a 2-point conversion with 1:03 left to survive a comeback bid by the Pittsburgh Steelers and escape with a 22-20 victory Thursday night.

After Pittsburgh scored on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Jerricho Cotchery to get within two points, but Roethlisberger’s conversion pass slipped through the hands of Emmanuel Sanders, who was screened by Chykie Brown.

The victory provided the Ravens (6-6) with their first winning streak since September and pushed them ahead of the Steelers (5-7) and four other teams in the race for the final wild-card slot in the AFC. It also avenged a 19-16 loss to their division rivals last month.

Tucker connected on kicks of 43, 34, 38, 45 and 48 yards after Joe Flacco threw a first-quarter touchdown pass to Torrey Smith.

Joe Flacco found Torrey Smith for a 7-yard touchdown pass early in the first quarter to give the Ravens the lead. The closest the Steelers came to scoring in the first half was when they lined up for a 50-yard field goal attempt that was aborted, with the ball ending up in kicker Shaun Suisham’s hands for a 12-yard loss. It was unclear whether the play was a deliberate fake or if Suisham mistimed the snap and arrived at the ball too early.

A Steelers-Ravens game is always intense, especially when there are playoff implications, and there were three post-whistle scuffles in the opening quarter alone. Baltimore lost receiver Brandon Stokley for the game with a sprained left knee, sustained while he was running a route early in the second quarter, while linebacker Elvis Dumervil left with a sprained left ankle late in the second quarter. Dumervil returned in the third.

Pittsburgh defensive end Brett Keisel injured his left foot in the first half. The team announced at halftime that he would not return.

Flacco took a sack two plays later, but then connected again with Smith, who was wide open over the middle. Flacco completed 4 of 5 passes for 74 yards on the drive and was 10 for 16 for 118 yards at the half.

While the Ravens came out throwing, the Steelers gave the ball to rookie running back Bell for their first five offensive plays, including a three-and-out on their opening drive.

When Roethlisberger started passing, his first five completions went to five different receivers in a slow march downfield. But the drive into Baltimore territory stalled, and Pittsburgh opted to punt on fourth-and-6 at Baltimore’s 37. A drive in the second quarter advanced the ball to Baltimore’s 32 before the field goal attempt that went awry.

The Ravens took advantage of the miscue. Given good field position at their own 44, they moved the ball with the help of a 26-yard pass interference call on Ike Taylor to set up a 43-yard field goal that made the score 10-0.

The Ravens increased their lead on the opening drive of the second half, moving into field goal position with a couple of third-down completions to Smith, leading to the 34-yarder by Tucker.

The Steelers had won three straight after a 2-6 start, while the Ravens were trying to put together a winning streak for the first time since September.

Neither team is accustomed to playing on Thanksgiving. The Ravers are 1-0 all-time on the holiday, while the Steelers were hoping for their first turkey day win since a 28-17 triumph over Chicago Cardinals in 1950.