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Steelers lose on late TD, 23-20

Posted Nov 6, 2011

RAVENS 23, Steelers 20

Steelers’ record: 6-3
One year ago: 6-3
Series record (including playoffs): Steelers lead, 21-14

STORYLINE
Since the Ravens had made such good use of emotion in defeating the Steelers in the opener, would the Steelers put their hope in that element for the rematch? “No, we’re not going to let them be the center of our universe,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “It’s about us and what we’re doing and what we’re chasing. No question the Ravens are a big-time obstacle, but we had some other obstacles along the way. Now, this is the one in front of us and needless to say we’re excited about it.”

TURNING POINT
The game was decided, and maybe the course of the Steelers’ season was changed, by third-and-10 from the Steelers 26-yard line with 14 seconds left in a 20-16 game. Joe Flacco lofted a pass down the right sideline for rookie receiver Torrey Smith, who had gotten behind cornerback William Gay. Neither Gay nor the official closest to the play ever located the football, which Smith caught for the winning touchdown, despite an interference call on Gay. After the game, Ryan Clark said he should have been able to help Gay on the play but did not get over in time.

STAT THAT STANDS OUT
The Ravens finished the game having converted 14-of-21 on third downs (67 percent). It was the most conversions on third down for the Ravens in any game this season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT
* Just like the first play of the opener, Ray Rice took a handoff and burst over the left side and went 76 yards for a touchdown, but the play was nullified by a holding penalty on WR Torrey Smith.

* After a pass interference penalty on William Gay in the end zone gave the Ravens a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line, the Steelers defense rose up and forced a field goal. Ryan Clark broke up a pass for Dennis Pitta on first down, and then Ray Rice was stopped short of the goal line on runs on second and third downs. Billy Cundiff kicked an 18-yard field goal for a 3-0 Baltimore lead.

* William Gay broke up a pass for Ed Dickson on a third-and-5 from the Steelers 22-yard line, and then Billy Cundiff missed a 40-yard field goal. To that point, Cundiff had made 32 attempts in a row from inside 50 yards.

* Linebacker Jameel McClain had a chance to intercept a Ben Roethlisberger pass, but the ball went through his hands and then was caught by Jerricho Cotchery for a 17-yard gain down to the Baltimore 7-yard line.

* It was a third-and-8 from the Steelers 36-yard line with under eight minutes to play in the fourth quarter, and at the time the Ravens had converted 12-of-16 third downs. James Harrison broke through for his third sack, and he also forced a fumble that William Gay recovered at the Steelers 42-yard line.

* It was has come to be known as Ben being Ben. On a third-and-5 from the Ravens 25-yard line with 5:08 left in the fourth quarter, Roethlisberger was flushed out of the pocket, and as he was sprinting to his right he spotted Mike Wallace running along the goal line. The ball was delivered on a dead run, and it hit Wallace perfectly in stride for the touchdown that gave the Steelers a 20-16 lead.

WHAT WENT WRONG
* Joe Flacco came out with a hot hand when it came to converting third downs early in the game. On the Ravens’ opening possession, Flacco was 3-for-3 on third downs, with an 11-yard completion to Ricky Williams converting a third-and-2, a 23-yard pass to Dennis Pitta converting a third-and-6, and then a 15-yard pass to Anquan Boldin converting a third-and-7.

* On a play earlier in the second quarter, Ray Lewis leveled Hines Ward with a helmet-to-helmet hit that was not flagged, but then late in the quarter Ryan Clark was flagged for a 15-yard personal foul for hitting a defenseless receiver, tight end Ed Dickson. The yardage was critical, because Billy Cundiff kicked a 51-yard field goal as time expired to give the Ravens a 9-6 halftime lead.

* The Steelers had themselves a nice drive going to open the second half with Ben Roethlisberger operating the no-huddle. Starting at their own 20-yard line, the Steelers got four first downs on the way to a first down at the Ravens 14-yard line. But then Roethlisberger got careless, and an attempted quick screen out in the flat to Mike Wallace was intercepted by Terrell Suggs.

* Through the point where the Ravens scored a touchdown on a run by Ray Rice to take a 16-6 lead, Joe Flacco had converted 10-of-14 third downs.

* The Steelers were leading, 20-16, with 2:34 left, and they were facing a fourth-and-5 at the Ravens 29-yard line. Before Shaun Suisham could attempt the 47-yard field goal, the 25-second clock expired and the Steelers were flagged for delay of game. Instead, Jeremy Kapinos punted, and the Ravens took over at their own 8-yard line.

SEPULVEDA TO IR; KAPINOS SIGNED
For the third time in a career that began in 2007 as a No. 4 draft pick from Baylor, punter Daniel Sepulveda was placed on the injured reserve list because of a problem with the knee of his plant leg. The Steelers made the move on the day before the Ravens game, and they signed Jeremy Kapinos to fill his Sepulveda’s spot.

Sepulveda has had ACL surgery on his right knee three times already – once in college, once in 2008 and again last season. This latest injury happened during practice last week, and it reportedly was not to the ACL this time.

Having maybe his best season, Sepulveda was averaging 46.1 yards on 25 punts, with eight inside the 20-yard line. He also served as the holder for Shaun Suisham.

Kapinos finished with a 41.1-yard average for Pittsburgh last year, including a career-long 59-yarder in the season finale at Cleveland. For his career, he has averaged 42.6 yards per punt in 26 games played.