PITTSBURGH -- With questions surrounding his desire and production, Ravens running back Jamal Lewis tried his best to answer the former, but that didn't always help little with the latter.
Lewis ran hard and well for 61 yards on 17 carries in last night's 20-19 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, barreling through would-be tacklers and stiff-arming defensive backs like the player that rushed for 2,000 yards two years ago. He accounted for 22 yards on the Ravens' opening touchdown drive.
But as has been typical in this controversial and disappointing season for Lewis, one of his best runs of the year ended in disaster.
With the Ravens facing first-and-10 from their 1-yard line in the second quarter, Lewis slid out of the grip of two potential tacklers in the end zone, ran through another tackle and appeared headed for an even bigger gain 7 yards later before being stood up by Deshea Townsend.
As he fought for more yardage, he lost control of the ball and the Steelers' Ike Taylor recovered it at the 12-yard line.
Lewis had just 2 net yards on his next four carries. He enaed the first half averaging 3.9 yards per carry.
Last week, he was vilified for saying he thinks about getting injured when he's on the field. Lewis is in the last year of his contract.
"I appreciate people giving excuses for me," Lewis said. "But at the same time, I'm going there to practice the same way I've done the past six or seven years. I'm just trying to find it and help this offense go to the next level because we always had a running game."
Jarring note for Polley at home
Tommy Polley started his first game at middle linebacker for the Ravens and helped limit Steelers running back Willie Parker to 39 first-half yards.
Polley, who will fill in for Ray Lewis for three games, received a little extra motivation from somebody in his own home.
"My uncle who lives with me, he's a big Steelers fan, so I'm not talking to him," Polley said. "We'll take it from there."
Roethlisberger unwelcome sight
Unfortunately for Rex Ryan, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger came back.
Ryan, the Ravens' defensive coordinator, predicted victory last week if Roethlisberger couldn't play.
"If the one kid is quarterback, we'll beat them, guaranteed," Ryan said. "Because that's what Jacksonville had. They had [Tommy] Maddox, never had Hines Ward, so that's a different team. But this football team [under Roethlisberger] has the ability to throw the football and run it."
Roethlisberger went to the locker room after leading the Steelers on a 15-play touchdown drive to open the game, but he did not miss any snaps. However, he was not the same player, often grimacing after throws and missing open receivers, especially on the Steelers' second-to-last drive of the first half.
He missed an open Cedrick Wilson on second down for what could have been a double-digit gain, then missed Ward one play later on what would have converted a third-and-nine.
A night to try some trickery
The Ravens made a concerted effort to get the ball to Randy Hymes.
Often overlooked in the team's game plan, Hymes had a trick play called for him in the third quarter when Lewis pitched a handoff back to quarterback Anthony Wright, who threw downfield to Hymes.
The ball was picked off by safety Chris Hope in double coverage.
Hymes did have a 21-yard reception on a third down in the second quarter. The Ravens also threw a jump ball into the end zone to Hymes from 31 yards, but Hymes caught the ball out of bounds.
Ed Reed, Ovie Mughelli, Ray Lewis, Jason Brown, Adam Terry, Mark Clayton, Tony Weaver and Kyle Boller were the Ravens' inactives. ... Running back Chester Taylor was a team captain along with Keydrick Vincent and Adalius Thomas. Taylor scored the team's first touchdown on a 13-yard pass from Wright. ... Matt Stover's missed 43-yard field goal in the second quarter broke his string of 10 straight successful tries.