Steelers drop key game to Ravens

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RAVENS 20, STEELERS 17 Steelers' record: 9-6
One year ago: 10-5
Series record (including playoffs): Steelers lead, 24-19

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STORYLINE**
In the NFL this season, there have been five different teams that have played with three different quarterbacks so far this season. Those teams are Houston, Dallas, Baltimore, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. The Steelers are 9-5; the Cowboys, Browns, and Ravens have won a combined 11 games; and the Texans are 7-7. The Ravens started their fourth quarterback – Ryan Mallett – against the Steelers, and it was a decision that made sense while also highlighting the different directions the teams are heading as this 2015 regular season comes to a close. Having recently signed Mallett off the street to a two-year deal, the Ravens are interested in auditioning him as a potential backup for Joe Flacco.HOW THE STORYLINE PLAYED OUT

Even though both Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Mallett were wearing No. 7 jerseys, Mallett looked every bit the poised veteran that Roethlisberger has been throughout this season. Where Mallett was excellent came in two critical areas: third-down conversions and turnover ratio. The Ravens – largely with Mallett being accurate and making good, quick decisions – converted 9-of-18 third downs, while the Steelers were just 2-of-8. Mallett also didn't turn the ball over and was sacked only once. Roethlisberger on the other hand was sacked twice and threw two interceptions, with a third nullified by an offside penalty.

FIRST HALF STAT THAT STANDS OUT

Game action as the Steelers traveled to M&T Bank Stadium to take on the Ravens in Week 16.

For the second straight game, the opposing offense was highly efficient on third downs against the Steelers. The Ravens were 4-for-4 on third downs in the first quarter, and Baltimore would convert their first two third-down situations in the second quarter as well. The Ravens finished 6-for-10 on third downs in the first half with a quarterback who hadn't been with the team very long.

TURNING POINT
On two occasions in the first half of the third quarter, Ben Roethlisberger burned timeouts rather than let the play clock expire and have the offense assessed a delay-of-game penalty. Those two timeouts would have come in handy in the final 109 seconds when the Ravens had the ball and were able to run the clock down to 12 seconds before having to punt the ball one last time.PLAYOFFS?

When the day began, the Steelers had the chance to finish as high as the No. 2 seed in the AFC, which would have meant a division championship and a bye through the first round of the playoffs. All that came crashing down around them, because they lost to the Ravens, while the Jets defeated the Patriots in overtime, while the Chiefs held on for a 17-13 win over the Browns at Arrowhead Stadium. The Steelers now are in a situation where they have to defeat the Browns in Cleveland and hope for some help.

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