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Steelers defeat Ravens, 23-20


STEELERS 23, RAVENS 20Steelers' record:7-5One year ago:9-3Series record (including playoffs):Steelers lead, 22-15STORYLINEThis was to be the third game the Steelers would play without Ben Roethlisberger, and they still were looking for their first backup-quarterback-friendly performance. This attempt would be made with Charlie Batch making his second straight start, but also with Antonio Brown at wide receiver for the first time since Nov. 4 and Troy Polamalu at safety for the first time since Oct. 7. A loss was going to eliminate the Steelers from the AFC North race.TURNING POINTThe Steelers were locked in a tie game inside the two-minute warning. Charlie Batch completed a 10-yard pass to Mike Wallace to the Ravens 34-yard line but the Steelers got an additional 15 yards when Paul Kruger was flagged for a late hit on Batch that put the ball at the 19-yard line.STAT THAT STANDS OUTSunday's attendance at M&T Bank Stadium was 71,442, the second-highest in the history of the building. The all-time highest attendance is 71,502, which was set on Dec. 14, 2008 when the opponent also was the Steelers.STAT THAT STANDS OUT IIIn the first half, Antonio Brown (five) and Mike Wallace (four) were targeted nine times and they had a combined two catches for 14 yards.WHAT WENT RIGHTThe Steelers won the coin toss and elected to defer, which put some early pressure on the defense at a venue where the Ravens offense has had a lot of success. Thanks to passes defensed from Ike Taylor and then Curtis Brown, the Steelers allowed only one first down before forcing the Ravens to punt.After taking the Ravens' punt to start their opening possession at the 22-yard line, the Steelers marched to a 46-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham to take a 3-0 lead. On the drive, Charlie Batch converted the first two third-down situations, with passes to Emmanuel Sanders and then Will Johnson.To that point – with about 10 minutes left in the second quarter – the Ravens had scored touchdowns on 12-of-13 goal-to-go situations – but after moving to a second-and-goal at the Steelers 4-yard line, Joe Flacco had one pass to Anquan Boldin broken up by Cortez Allen and a second one broken up by Larry Foote. Justin Tucker then kicked his second field goal for a 6-3 Baltimore lead.The Steelers were able to flip the field position midway through the second quarter when Drew Butler got off a 46-yard punt that forced Jacoby Jones to make a fair catch. After LB Albert McClellan was flagged for holding, the Ravens started their possession at their own 19-yard line.To describe it simply, Joe Flacco pulled a Mike Tomczak. After spinning out of the grasp of Brett Keisel, Flacco rainbowed the ball down the field and it was intercepted by Ryan Clark to give the Steelers the ball at their own 49-yard line with 6:03 left in the first half.Charlie Batch played a big role in the Steelers 78-yard touchdown drive that opened the second half. After pitching a strike to Heath Miller for a 43-yard gain to get the ball close, Batch threw a key block on CB Cary Williams to allow Jonathan Dwyer to get into the end zone on a 16-yard run that was the first touchdown of his NFL career and tied the game, 13-13.Three plays after Ed Reed's interception in the end zone and 34-yard return, James Harrison recorded a sack/strip of Joe Flacco and Ziggy Hood recovered at the Baltimore 27-yard line.Heath Miller's nifty footwork along the sideline as he was extending the football to the pylon accounted for the tying touchdown, 20-20, midway through the fourth quarter. The touchdown was the seventh of the season for Miller, which tied his single-season high, and it also allowed him to pass Elbie Nickel for the franchise lead among tight ends.On a third-and-7 from the Pittsburgh 18-yard line inside four minutes left in the game. Charlie Batch stood in the pocket and took a big hit from Haloti Ngata but he still converted with a 15-yard pass to Mike Wallace.WHAT WENT WRONG**As if the injury situation wasn't bad enough, the Steelers had Ike Taylor leave the game with an injury to his right ankle that was sustained on the play in which he broke up a long pass for Torrey Smith on the first series of the game.On a third-and-4 late in the first quarter, Jason Worilds had Joe Flacco around the waist but the Ravens QB still was able to get the ball to RB Bernard Pierce in the flat. Pierce managed to wiggle away from Ryan Clark just enough to get 5 yards for the first down.It will go down as a sack for Paul Kruger, but what really happened on the third-and-4 from the Pittsburgh 26-yard line was Charlie Batch had nobody to throw the ball to and held onto it long enough for Kruger to loop all the way around to make the play.

Two plays after the interception by Ryan Clark, the Steelers gave it right back on an interception, albeit in a rather non-traditional way. The play was a reverse pass, with Antonio Brown trying to get the ball down the opposite sideline to Jonathan Dwyer. But CB Corey Graham was not fooled by the reverse action and stayed on his side of the field, and he made the interception at the Ravens 31-yard line.

Four plays after Graham's interception, the Ravens got the ball in the end zone on a 28-yard pass to Anquan Boldin. But none of that happens without an iffy holding call on Keenan Lewis vs. Anquan Boldin. Earlier in the game, Boldin had turned to back judge Terrence Miles and whined for a call he didn't get, and Miles gave Boldin what he wanted on a third-and-4. That provided the first down the Ravens needed to keep the drive alive.

On a third-and-3 from the Ravens 23-yard line with 43 seconds left in the first half, Mike Wallace was left all alone in the end zone by CB Chykie Brown but Charlie Batch sailed the ball over his head, and the Steelers settled for a 41-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham and a 13-6 halftime deficit.

It was a third-and-11 from the Pittsburgh 28-yard line when Charlie Batch threw a perfect strike to a slanting Emmanuel Sanders, who was running free down the middle of the field when he inexplicably lost the football after gaining 21 yards. Ed Reed recovered the ball, and six plays later, Ray Rice bounced outside for a 34-yard touchdown that gave the Ravens a 20-13 lead with 4:50 left in the third quarter.

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