Steelers fall to Ravens, 17-14

The Steelers suffered their first loss of the 2010 season, falling in the closing seconds 17-14 to the Baltimore Ravens. The loss sends the Steelers into the bye week with a 3-1 record, and improves the Ravens to 3-1.

Charlie Batch started his second game at quarterback, finishing the day completing 12 of 21 passes for 141 yards and one interception. Rashard Mendenhall, who last week rushed for 143 yards, was held to 79 yards by a stingy Ravens defense, but scored the Steelers only points on two touchdown runs.  

The Steelers defense stopped the Ravens on the ground, limiting them to a total of 70 yards, but Joe Flacco completed 24 of 37 passes for 256 yards and a touchdown. They also came up with two big turnovers, but weren't able to turn them into points as Jeff Reed missed two field goals.

"We didn't make enough plays to win the football game," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "We didn't play smart enough. I thought the two turnover opportunities that we had in the third quarter were significant opportunities in the game that we didn't capitalize on in terms of putting points on the board. We knew that points were going to be scarce in this matchup and they were again today. Largely, we didn't get any points out of those turnovers and that put us behind the eight-ball, and ultimately we were highly penalized. The penalties hurt us, no question in the football game.

"But you compliment them. They did enough to win, we didn't. Such is life in the NFL. We'll take a look at this and hopefully we'll learn from it. It's our first opportunity to respond to defeat, and I expect those guys to do that, respond meaning action with thought. We'll do that as we proceed forward, and take advantage of this bye week and move on with the rest of our football season."

The Steelers weren't able to move the ball on their opening drive. Mendenhall went off right guard for two yards, and added a three-yard carry. But on third down Batch was sacked by Haloti Ngata for an eight-yard loss to end the drive.

Flacco got the Ravens offense going with a 10-yard completion to Le'Ron McClain. Flacco focused in on Derrick Mason, who pulled in an eight-yard reception and followed with a nine-yard grab. On second-and-one Willis McGahee took it up the middle for two yards. Flacco went back to Mason for completions of four and nine yards. The defense shut the door after that. McGahee was knocked for an eight-yard loss and a false start gave the Ravens a second-and-21 from the 38-yard line. McGahee rattled off 10 yards, but on third down Flacco couldn't connect with T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The Ravens came away empty after Billy Cundiff's 46-yard field goal went wide right.

The Steelers took over at the 36-yard line and went to work. Batch hit Mendenhall for a four-yard gain, and he added a six-yard carry up the middle. Chris Carr was flagged for defensive pass interference, giving the Steelers the ball at the Ravens 42-yard line. Batch aired it out for Antwaan Randle El, who took it to the one-yard line on a 34-yard reception. Mendenhall punched it in from there, giving the Steelers a 7-0 lead.  

Flacco stayed with Mason, hitting him over the middle for a 40-yard gain. Ryan Clark put a hit on Todd Heap, breaking up what would have been a first down reception. Flacco stayed with the air attack, finding Anquan Boldin for an 18-yard gain to the 23-yard line. McGahee added a six-yard carry and an illegal use of hands gave the Ravens a first down at the 12-yard line. McGahee capped the drive with a nine-yard touchdown, tying the score at 7-7 with 13:33 to play in the half.

Mike Wallace went over the middle for a 20-yard gain, with Mendenhall adding a 10-yard carry. After a short gain by Mendenhall, Batch wasn't able to hit an open Heath Miller. On third down, the Ravens pressured Batch, who couldn't connect with Wallace, forcing a punt.

The defense was swarming on the next drive, overcoming a pass interference call to stop the Ravens. Casey Hampton sacked Flacco for a six-yard loss, forcing a fumble that the Ravens recovered. Ray Rice was stopped for just a one-yard gain by James Harrison and Brett Keisel and on third down, Lawrence Timmons brought the pressure on Flacco, forcing an incompletion.

Starting deep in their own territory the Steelers weren't able to go anywhere on their next drive. Mendenhall was held to a three-yard carry and an offensive holding call pushed them back to the eight-yard line. Offsetting penalties negated what could have been a fumble, but with a second chance Batch was forced to scramble and came up shy of the first down.

Flacco went over the middle to Heap for 16 yards and Rice pulled in a short reception, cutting across field and turning it into a nine-yard gain. Boldin added a 13-yard reception, giving the Ravens a first down at the 21-yard line with two minutes to play in the half. A defensive holding call gave the Ravens a first down at the 15-yard line, but McGahee was stuffed by Timmons and Aaron Smith for just a one-yard gain. Flacco hit Boldin in traffic for a seven-yard gain to the seven-yard line. McGahee moved the chains with a two-yard carry, but a holding call pushed the Ravens back to the 15-yard line. The defense kept them out of the end zone, but the Ravens were able to take a 10-7 halftime lead on Cundiff's 33-yard field.

The Steelers caught a break on the opening kickoff of the second half went a holding called negated Jalen Parmele's 41-yard return, pushing the Ravens back to their 11-yard line. The defense came up big once again, when James Harrison nailed McGahee, forcing a fumble and Timmons came up with the recovery. The Steelers weren't able to capitalize when Jeff Reed's 49-yard field goal hit the right upright.

After the defense forced a quick three-and-out, the Steelers went back to work on offense. Batch hit Mendenhall for five yards and Wallace pulled in a four-yarder for a first down. Ward added a nine-yard reception and Mendenhall got the first down on a two-yard carry. A holding call brought back a six-yard run by Mendenhall, but two incomplete passes forced the Steelers to punt.

The Ravens were backed up at their 10-yard line and a fired-up defense wasn't letting them get anywhere. After two short gains, Ike Taylor stepped in and intercepted Flacco's pass at the 33-yard line. But with great field position, the Steelers came away empty when Reed's 45-yard field goal went wide left.

The defense came up with another stop of the Ravens, putting the offense back in control. Mendenhall picked up 11 yards and Miller pulled in a 19-yard catch. On third-and-10 Miller came up big again, with a 13-yard reception to the Ravens 42-yard line. Batch aired it out to Wallace, but it was broken up in the end zone by Lardarius Webb. They converted another third-and-10 when Randle El made a nice 16 yard reception. Mendenhall went around right end for a nine-yard reception and spun free for a four-yard carry to the 13-yard line. A wide open Isaac Redman grabbed a six-yard reception and Mendenhall put the exclamation point on the drive with a seven-yard touchdown run, putting the Steelers back on top 14-10.

Baltimore came back with Flacco completing a 26-yard pass to an open Houshmandzadeh, who ran out of bounds. Flacco stayed in the air, going to Boldin for an 11-yard gain. Rice was knocked for a one-yard loss and it was back to the air, as Flacco hit Mason for 10 yards. A neutral zone infraction gave the Ravens a first down at the 21-yard line. Flacco went over the middle to Heap again for 11 yards, but Taylor covered Boldin in the end zone. Rice took it up the middle for six yards and on third down, William Gay made a huge play, breaking up the pass at the goal line. On fourth down Flacco wasn't able to connect with Boldin, who was covered by Gay, in the corner of the end zone, turning it over on downs.

The Steelers took over with 2:40 on the clock at the three-yard line, trying to protect a three-point lead. Mendenhall had a two-yard carry, but a false start pushed them back two yards. Mendenhall added a three-yard carry, and another false start put them back on the three-yard line. On third-and-10 Mendenhall was stopped for no gain, forcing a punt out of the end zone. Dan Sepulveda got the ball out to the 50-yard line, but a 10-yard holding call on the Steelers gave the Ravens a short field to work with.

Flacco was able to move the ball down the field, closing it out when he hit Houshmandzadeh for an 18-yard touchdown for a 17-14 win.

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