RAVENS 23, STEELERS 20, OT**
Steelers' record: 2-2
One year ago: 2-2
Series record (including playoffs): Steelers lead 24-19
"We need to come out fast and play hard," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "We like to focus on the things that we can control, and that's our quality of play. We can't be a highly-penalized bunch and be effective on either side of the ball. The ball security is going to be a big issue in the game – our ability to get it on defense by any means, and our ability to retain it on offense is going to be big as well."
Historically in these games, getting off to a poor start has equated to a loss for the Steelers. Last year, in the team's 26-6 loss in Baltimore, the Ravens jumped out to a 10-0 lead; in 2013, the Steelers' 22-20 loss to the Ravens began with Baltimore jumping out to a 13-0 lead; and in 2011 when the Steelers opened the season in Baltimore with a 35-7 loss, the Ravens jumped out to a 14-0 lead.
Coming out fast – or at least not falling behind by a score or two – figured to take on even more importance in this particular installment of this rivalry, because the Steelers weren't going to have their franchise quarterback available to bail them out. Because Mike Vick wasn't signed until Aug. 25 and therefore didn't have a training camp to become familiar with both the offense and his teammates, because as a backup early in a season he wasn't getting a lot of repetitions in practice, it seemed critical for the Steelers to avoid putting themselves – and their backup quarterback in his first start since Nov. 24, 2014 – in a hole early.
HOW THE STORYLINE PLAYED OUT
Things actually went fairly well, according to the general plan outlined by Tomlin before the game. The Steelers scored first – on a 45-yard field goal by Josh Scobee – and their largest deficit of the game was four points – 7-3 – in the first half. The Steelers also were assessed only four penalties for a total of 20 yards, and they were plus-2 in turnover ratio.
FIRST HALF STAT THAT STANDS OUT
The Steelers took a 13-7 lead into the locker room at halftime, and in the process their offense put up 145 total net yards. Mike Vick completed 11-for-13 for 75 yards, and he added another 21 yards rushing. But through it all, the Steelers were 0-for-4 on third downs.
SECOND HALF STAT THAT STANDS OUT**
After converting 4-of-8 third downs in the first half, the Ravens converted only 2-for-9 in the second half and overtime. The Steelers also were 2-for-9 on third downs in the second half and overtime, which put them at 2-for-13 for the game.
THE DEFENSE DESERVED BETTER
After a 12-play, 80-yard drive for a touchdown in the first quarter, the Ravens had 12 more offensive possessions. In those 12 possessions, the Steelers took the ball away twice, forced three punts, and turned the ball over on downs three other times.
The Steelers appeared to have the game in hand with 2:04 remaining in the fourth quarter. That's when, on a fourth-and-10 from the Ravens 39-yard line, James Harrison sacked Joe Flacco to turn the ball over to the Steelers offense at the 29-yard line. Then with 1:06 remaining in the fourth quarter, on a fourth-and-4 from the Baltimore 23-yard line, Josh Scobee lined up for a 41-yard field goal that would have given the Steelers a six-point lead and therefore forced the Ravens to have to score a touchdown to win. Scobee's kick was wide left, and that set in motion a series of events that ended with the Steelers losing, 23-20, in overtime when Justin Tucker drilled a 42-yard field goal.
STEELERS VS. RAVENS EQUALS OVERTIME
This was the fifth time these teams played into overtime since 2003, and the Steelers are 1-4 in those games.