Flacco delivers with game on the line

November 07, 2011|Mike Preston

PITTSBURGH — — The difference between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Ravens is no longer in the quarterback.

When the game was on the line Sunday night, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco outlasted Pittsburgh quarterback and rival Ben Roethlisberger.

In the past, when Roethlisberger had led the Steelers on a potential game winning drive late in the fourth period, the Ravens had no answer. But Sunday night, Flacco brought the Ravens back with a 13 play, 92 yard drive in the last 2 minutes and 16 seconds.

Flacco finished off the Steelers with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith down the right sideline with eight seconds remaining.

The Ravens have swept the Steelers this season, and more importantly, Flacco has started to show he can beat good quarterbacks consistently.

Bad call on Rice's TD

Ravens running back Ray Rice had a 76-yard touchdown run nullified on the opening play from scrimmage because Smith was called for holding cornerback William Gay.

That was a terrible call, and the Steelers were the recipients of some home cooking.

The Ravens, though, got one back when Steelers cornerback Ryan Clark was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with his hit on tight end Ed Dickson late in the first half.

It was a good, clean shot and the officials are turning the NFL into a powder puff league.

Let's try a new play

The Ravens might have to adjust their running game on goal-line situations. They have a running play where Rice goes to the left running behind Marshal Yanda, the pulling right guard. They have had success in the past, but it's hard to pull a guard in that area of the field against quick, penetrating teams like the Steelers.

I've never liked the play because it takes away all the power of a player like Yanda, who goes forward a lot better than backwards and sideways. The Ravens ran the plan on a third and one at the Pittsburgh one on their first offensive series, and Yanda was slow and eventually collided with tight end Ed Dickson, who got stuffed on the play.

On goal-line situations, the Ravens tight ends have played poorly when run blocking.

The Suggs show

It didn't take outside linebacker Terrell Suggs long to start taunting Pittsburgh fans. When the Ravens were introduced, Suggs ran to both end zones and raised both arms as if he was trying to get them to boo louder.

Before he left for the sidelines to join his teammates, he gave the fans a military salute.

Injured Steelers

The Steelers were without starting linebackers LaMarr Woodley and James Farrior. Woodley's absence definitely hurt the Steelers, but the Ravens probably wanted Farrior to play. Opposing teams have been beating him consistently on short and crossing routes across the middle.

Who's smiling now?

Suggs was looking for Steelers wide receiver Hines "Smiley" Ward during the week, but it was inside linebacker Ray Lewis who found him across the middle with 14:01 left in the first half.

Lewis got in a partial shoulder shot after "Smiley" attempted to haul in a pass, but it was enough to give Ward a stinger and force him from the game. Ward wanted to get back in the game, but apparently had his helmet taken away.

Big tackle by Reed

The biggest play of the first half was Ravens safety Ed Reed making the open field tackle on receiver Antonio Brown after a 32-yard reception on the last play of the first quarter. If Reed doesn't bring down Brown by barely grabbing one leg, that would have been the only touchdown in the half.

Instead, Pittsburgh had to settle for a 36-yard field goal. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh also won a challenge later in the series and he is six of seven for the year.

He's on a roll.

No 'Bernie' from Rice

Rice scored on a 4-yard run with 4:27 left in the third quarter, and he didn't give us the "Bernie" dance. I guess the Ravens got letters of complaints from the Dulaney soccer team's parents as well.

Changing it up

The Ravens moved Suggs around a lot Sunday night. In the second half, he played a lot of coverage instead of rushing the quarterback. The move had to slow the Steelers as far as which way to slide their pass protection at times.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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