BALTIMORE – Too many times, the Ravens stopped the Steelers. And too many other times, the Steelers stopped themselves.
For the Steelers, Thursday night's 26-6 loss continued a trend that surfaced after halftime of the regular-season opener against Cleveland.
Check out the highlight photos from the Ravens vs Steelers game.
And the trend is this: the Steelers suddenly can't score touchdowns.
They're 0-for-their-last-six quarters in that department after managing just a pair of field goals against the Ravens. The issue at M&T Bank Stadium was perceived to be one of culpability rather than capability.
"It's not very surprising if you hurt yourself," running back Le'Veon Bell said. "Penalties and turning the ball over, it's not surprising that we're not in a rhythm. It's so hard as it is to get first downs. When you hurt yourself, turn the ball over, costly penalties, things like that, it makes it that much harder."
The Steelers did the wrong thing at the wrong time against the Ravens, in a variety of ways and in a variety of situations.
Their first possession ended when wide receiver Justin Brown caught a pass at the Baltimore 16-yard line and then lost a fumble. Their second ended when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw behind Brown on third-and-1 from the Steelers' 29-yard line.
They missed a chance to cut into a 10-3 Ravens' lead just before halftime when offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert was flagged for a false start on third-and-4 from the Baltimore 36-yard line and then Roethlisberger overthrew open tight end Heath Miller on a screen on the subsequent third-and-9.
Two more turnovers in the second half – a Miller fumble and a tip-pick by Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata – helped seal the Steelers' fate.
"It was one thing here, one thing there," Roethlisberger said. "I don't know if we can point to one thing. We just kept getting behind the chains and we can't do that."
STILL LOOKING FOR No. 1: The three turnovers were the second, third and fourth the Steelers' offense has committed this season.
The Steelers' defense is still looking for its first takeaway.
"I wish I knew the answer to that," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "We have to give our offense the ball and give them short fields and put points on the board."
Cornerback Cortez Allen got his hands on the ball on third-and-4 from the Steelers' 4-yard line with Baltimore ahead, 20-6, early in the fourth quarter, which was the Ravens' possession that commenced with Miller's fumble.
Allen bobbled the ball but couldn't intercept it. The Ravens kicked another field goal for a 23-6 lead.
"Just capitalize when you have an opportunity to make a forced fumble or an interception," free safety Mike Mitchell suggested. "It's just a matter of getting the ball out. Sometimes, a lot of turnovers are, the other guy was messing up and someone capitalized on a mistake. If you notice (Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco) didn't really throw a lot of balls into double-coverage.
"We had a couple chances, though, we just got to capitalize. Try to sack-fumble and things like that."
SEEING YELLOW: The Steelers' problems with penalties (they committed 10 and had nine enforced; the Ravens were assessed four) were especially noticeable in one third-quarter stretch.
Strong safety Troy Polamalu (unnecessary roughness) and Mitchell (unnecessary roughness) were flagged for personal fouls in a three-play sequence just prior to the touchdown that gave the Ravens a 17-3 lead.
A sampling of reaction:
Polamalu: "That's what you're used to seeing in these types of games. They had a personal foul. It's just kind of our style of play, they play physical and we play physical. Those types of plays are going to happen whenever we play each other."
Mitchell: "You can watch the play, watch the replay. I'm going to play the game the right way. I'm doing what they asked me to do. I guess the referee saw something. I didn't break a rule but the referee saw something. I'm going to continue to play hard, physical football by the rules."
Mitchell was also assessed a personal foul/face mask penalty.
Cornerback Ike Taylor: "The referees have a tough job, man. They got to make the call right now. We can't worry about what the refs call. I understand their job is tough. We just have to deal with it and fight through it."
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:
"We have work to do. Obviously, we wanted to come in and get this one, especially these two divisional games (to start the season). But they beat us, and they beat us in all three phases." – Keisel
"I don't think there's any panic in the room. We just have to be honest with ourselves and see what we can improve." – Miller
"It's frustration because we lost. We moved the ball. We just made a mistake here and there, and we can't do that." – Roethlisberger
"We feel like when we play our best we're tough to beat. But when we have a divisional game, especially vs. the Ravens, they're going to capitalize and they capitalized. Sometimes, you can get away with it. But when you play against any AFC North team you know it's going to be a battle, it's going to be a fight. And those boys capitalized on all of our mistakes." – Taylor