The Ravens had them. They were up 21-7 in the third quarter with the ball. Terrell Suggs owned the Pittsburgh offensive line; the Ravens defense was causing turnovers and controlling the line of scrimmage. Momentum was on their side… and they let it all slip away.
After Ray Rice fumbled for the first time in over 400 touches, Baltimore melted down and lost 31-24 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game that lived up to the hype.
It was a 12 round match that featured very few haymakers but several knockdowns. The Steelers delivered the hardest blows when it counted.
The first half belonged to the Ravens as they forced two turnovers, which led to 14 points and seemed to stagger the Steelers. Suggs was unstoppable. He swarmed Ben Roethlisberger all afternoon for three sacks and it should’ve been five if not for Ben’s athletic ability, which helps him avoid sacks. At the half and early into the third quarter it looked as if Baltimore could all but punch their ticket to New England next week… then the fumble happened.
Ray Rice never fumbles, never, 404 touches since his last one to be exact. However on a check down from Joe Flacco (one of the many from him today) Rice didn’t protect the ball and it slipped out of his hands and into the Pittsburgh defense’s. A few plays later Ben found Heath Miller for a 9 yard score and the Steelers were back in business.
On the next possession Flacco threw a terrible pass in the direction of Todd Heap, who was double covered, and it landed right in the hands of Ryan Clark for another turnover and the Raven meltdown continued once the Steelers turned it into more points and tied the game at 21.
Then after they got the ball back Flacco mishandled a snap and, yep another turnover that led to more points. The Steelers were now up 24-21 and the Ravens were in a full freefall.
(Side note: Joe Flacco is a bum. I understand the Steelers defense is tough, but man did he look scared of, well, everything. He checked down to Ray Rice more than Trent Edwards, he was afraid to throw the ball downfield more than six yards and when he did he routinely under and overthrew his receivers. His performance was dreadful. He couldn’t move the ball unless he had a short field and looked shaky from start to finish.
Is it a problem in the future? What do you think? I wouldn’t trust this guy making me a turkey sandwich let alone try to lead my team to a Super Bowl. He’s got great receivers and one of the game’s best backs and cant seem to get the offense to move. The Ravens should take a look at bringing in a solid back-up QB just in case.)
So here we are in the fourth quarter and the game has totally changed. Now James Harrison is the one bringing the heat and the Steelers were pushing around the Ravens offensive line. The Ravens offense was obscenely inept. They couldn’t gain ground at all thanks to the Steelers d-line and Flacco’s shaky hand. If not for the Ravens defense the Steelers might have completely destroyed the Ravens.
Thanks to that defense the Ravens had one last shot to take control of the game thanks to a great stand with less than 5 minutes left and a great punt return, which was a touchdown but was called back thanks to a hold. Yet once again the Ravens offense failed to produce. They had scored touchdowns when working with a short field in the first half, but on this possession they were denied and held to a field goal.
So what happens next? Let’s see; fourth quarter, game on the line, Roethlisberger behind center… yeah you know. Roethlisberger did what neither offense could do in the first 56 minutes of the game, he moved the ball efficiently down the field thanks to a big pass play to Emmanuel Sanders and the Steelers scored another touchdown to take a 31-24 lead.
Could the Ravens answer? Of course not. Flacco was sacked, overthrew Anquan Boldin and on their last play actually threw a dart to T.J. Houshmanzadeh, which he let slip through his hands ending their season. Very fitting for the game that they played in the second half.
As much as the Steelers won the game, the Ravens lost it. Their meltdown was all mental mistakes. Every turnover could’ve been avoided by the offense and each turnover killed a defense that despite allowing 31 points was absolutely dominate.
This loss is squarely on the offense. The drop, the turnovers that put the defense in bad spots and the inability to control the line all led to the Ravens demise (hasn’t that been the case since the team’s inception?).
So as the Steelers move on and somehow try to heal up from this epically physical game, the Ravens head back to Charm City hanging their heads. They know this game was there’s and it was well in their grasp. However, like the Houshmenzadeh dropped pass they let it slip away and cant blame anyone but themselves.