Darian Stewart Makes Game-Changing Plays In Pittsburgh

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It's been nights like Sunday that safety Darian Stewart has been waiting for his entire career.

The fifth-year veteran, and former undrafted rookie, never truly panned out in St. Louis. He came to Baltimore and has started 15 of 17 games, but hasn't stood out as a playmaker in the back end.

That is until the wild-card win in Pittsburgh.

Stewart made three huge plays that dramatically impacted the final outcome.

He shoved Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown out of bounds just before he scored a first-half touchdown. His blitz forced quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to throw a bad pass that was intercepted by outside linebacker Terrell Suggs. Stewart later picked off Roethlisberger in the end zone to essentially seal the game.

"It was big for me," Stewart said. "I'm at a loss for words. I was praying this morning that I was going to be special tonight. The man upstairs, he did it."

Stewart's first splash play, as Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin likes to call it, came in the second quarter. The Ravens had a 7-3 lead when Roethlisberger took a deep shot down the right sideline to Brown, who was wide open behind safety Jeromy Miles.

Stewart came a long way and dove to hit Brown, forcing his left foot inches out of bounds. That play saved four points as the Steelers later settled for a field goal.

"That's about as good a play as you can ever see," Head coach John Harbaugh said. "The range there was tremendous."

"That's film study and knowing the route," Stewart said. "I read the quarterback and got a break on it. That was just a helluva play."

Stewart's next big play was on the turning point of the game. The Ravens had an eight-point lead midway through the fourth quarter when Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees dialed up a creative blitz.

He lined up Stewart, Suggs and linebacker C.J. Mosley up all over the left tackle. All three seemed to pass rush, but Suggs actually dropped off in coverage and Mosley just ran outside to occupy two blockers, freeing up Stewart with a direct shot on Roethlisberger.

Stewart missed the sack as the powerful Big Ben spun away from him, but Stewart got a piece of his leg, tripping him a bit. Mosley was then in Roethlisberger's face as he tried to dump the ball off to his running back, Ben Tate. The pass was too high and went off Tate's fingers and right into Suggs' arms and knees.

"I thought I had me a sack. He spun out on me," Stewart said. "I don't know how the ball came out and Sizzle got to it, but I'm just glad he made a play."

Stewart's final big play came with three minutes left and the Steelers trying to mount one final comeback. 

Roethlisberger had just re-entered the game after being whiplashed by outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw, and he scrambled and tried to find Brown in the back of the end zone.

Stewart stepped in front for his second interception of the season, essentially sealing Baltimore's win. Asked if his eyes got big, Stewart said, "Not this time."

"I was cool with it," he said. "I actually looked it in."

Stewart was a Baltimore free-agent signing this past offseason. He won a starting job out of training camp and has for the most part held onto it despite the carousel in the deep secondary. Stewart didn't start two games in Weeks 13 and 14, but quickly regained the spot the rest of the way.

He notched his first interception of the season, after dropping a couple chances earlier in the year, in Week 16 in Houston when he played good coverage over the top and picked off quarterback Case Keenum's pass that was too deep.

Now Stewart seems to be on a bit of a roll.

"Darian is quietly really putting together a really good second half of the season this year," Harbaugh said. "He's really come on well for us."

Check out all the best photos from the AFC Wild Card match-up between the Ravens and Steelers at Heinz Field.

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