Ravens-Steelers instant analysis

Ravens-Steelers instant analysis
December 2, 2012, 7:45 pm
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(Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE)

Steelers 23, Ravens 20

M&T Bank Stadium

The streak is over.

The first time these teams played two weeks ago, the Ravens were just better. Sunday, it was the Steelers, led by third-string quarterback Charlie Batch who outplayed Joe Flacco and led his team on a 12-play, 61-yard drive to end the game on a 42-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham.

Flacco had his worst game of the season at home, going 16-for-34 for 188 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. But it was his fourth-quarter fumble that allowed the Steelers to tie the score at 20 on Batch’s 7-yard pass to Heath Miller.

The Ravens’ NFL-long home winning streak ends at 15 regular season games.

Baltimore won 13-10 at Heinz Field two weeks ago in the Steelers’ first game without Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder/ribs).

Batch, who had three interceptions in last week’s 20-14 loss to the Cleveland Browns, went 25-for-36 for 276 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.

The Ravens appeared on their way to an easy victory when 13-3 late in the second quarter wen Flacco hit Anquan Boldin for 31 yards on a back shoulder thrown and then 28 yards on the next play for a touchdown.

That was Boldin’s second TD catch of the season, and first since Week 1.

Flacco’s overall play, however, was poor. He broke a tackle by Jason Worilds, spins out and tossed up a prayer to Dennis Pitta that was intercepted by Ryan Clark. Pitta was covered by three Steelers.

The Ravens’ offense opened with six consecutive pass plays on a drive that stalled before midfield, a sign of what was to come.

Player of the game: RB Ray Rice had 12 carries for 78 yards and a TD. It was his 32nd of his career, which moved him to second all-time for the franchise and surpassed Willis McGahee.

Turning point: Seemingly in control with a 20-13 lead after Ed Reed’s end-zone interception of Batch, Flacco dropped back and held the ball too long. That led to a sack by James Harrison as Flacco fumbled and Ziggy Hood recovered. Four plays later, Batch connected with Miller with 7:24 left in the game.

Bailed out: On 3rd and 3 from the Ravens’ 23, Chykie Brown released Mike Wallace, mistakenly thinking he had help over the top. Fortunately for Brown, Batch overthrew a wide-open Wallace in the end zone. Instead, the Steelers settled for another field goal to go in trailing 13-6 at halftime. Brown was used in the nickel package because veteran Chris Johnson (hamstring) was inactive.

Wrecking ball: FB Vonta Leach planted NT Casey Hampton, who weighs 325 pounds on a run block that sprung Rice. On top of that, he had his best offensive day of the season with 4 catches for 40 yards. 

Tough yards: Last week, the Ravens converted 12 of 24 third downs despite having to go 10 yards four times, 7 twice, 8, 9, 15, 16 and 20. They avoided that Sunday, but failed on 3rd and 2, 5, 3 and 4 in the first half alone.

Nowhere to run: Dwyer took over as the No. 1 back, supplanting Rashard Mendenhall to third string, but didn’t get much done. Along with Isaac Redman, that trio was held to 93 yards on 24 carries the first time these teams met. Sunday wasn’t much different as Dwyer and Redman were held to 25 carries for 92 yards.

Tip drill: LB Albert McClellan tipped Drew Butler’s punt in the second quarter to give the Ravens possession near midfield. Eight plays later, Justin Tucker kicked a 23-yard filed goal for a 6-3 lead for Baltimore. DT Terrence Cody tipped a pass from Batch to start the third quarter.

Streak continues: LB Paul Kruger continued his sack streak, getting one for the fourth consecutive game. The fourth-year player dropped Batch for a 3-yard loss on 3rd and 4 in the second quarter. That put Kruger at 6.5 for the season, surpassing his previous high of 5.5 from 2011. DE Arthur Johnson also had a sack for a 3-yard loss. It was his second consecutive game with one after getting two in San Diego a week ago.