In a game of diminishing returns, the Ravens took their offensive gains where they could find them Sunday night.
Facing the Pittsburgh Steelers without fullback Le'Ron McClain ( sprained ankle), the Ravens lost tight end Todd Heap on their first offensive play to a hamstring injury.
Improvising as best he could, quarterback Joe Flacco hit wide receiver Anquan Boldin for a 61-yard pass in the first quarter and Donte' Stallworth for a 67-yard completion in the second. The first big play set up a 14-yard touchdown throw to Boldin and a 7-0 lead that was not to last as the Ravens lost 13-10.
Both long passes got the Ravens off their goal line and turned field position dramatically in the first half. Boldin's catch came on a third-and-15 play from the Baltimore 3. A false start against left tackle Michael Oher backed the Ravens into that precarious situation.
Boldin beat Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark over the middle deep.
Three minutes later, Flacco, on third-and-10 at the Pittsburgh 25, completed an 11-yard toss to rookie tight end Ed Dickson, who beat linebacker Lawrence Timmons for the first-down play.
Two plays later, the Ravens found the end zone when Flacco was chased out of the pocket toward their sideline. Looking for Boldin, Flacco found him in the middle of the end zone wide open. Boldin ran right toward the sideline, saw Flacco scrambling and reversed direction to the middle of the field for an uncontested catch.
It was Boldin's seventh touchdown catch of the season, but first since Nov. 11 at Atlanta. He had a low profile in the passing game the past two weeks with six catches for a modest 56 yards.
Dickson, replacing Heap, had two catches in the first half, his first two-catch game in the NFL.
A week after Heap had a 65-yard catch, the Ravens got an even longer pass play. This time, they were backed up to their own 6 when Stallworth blew past cornerback Bryant McFadden for a 67-yard pitch-and-catch. Flacco's pass was underthrown or Stallworth, with blazing speed, likely would have scored on the play. As it was, Stallworth turned McFadden around trying to make the tackle.
The play carried to the Pittsburgh 27, but after another false start on Oher and a third-down sack of Flacco, the Ravens were forced to punt.
It was only Stallworth's second catch of the season; the first came at Carolina on Nov. 21. Stallworth missed the first seven games of the year with a broken bone in his foot.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the game's result. The score was Steelers 13, Ravens 10.