It didn't matter that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was back, or that the Steelers have perhaps the most fearsome offensive trio in football.
The Ravens defense absolutely dominated Sunday.
It wasn't always pretty, but Baltimore ground out a 21-14 victory over their arch rival Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens not only snapped a four-game losing streak, but took over first place in a depressed AFC North. Both Baltimore and Pittsburgh are 4-4, but the Ravens hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Cincinnati Bengals are 3-4-1.
Pittsburgh didn't get on the scoreboard until there was less than nine minutes left in the game.
Of the Steelers' first 11 drives (outside of a kneel to end the first half), 10 ended with punts and the other was an interception. One of the punts was blocked and returned for a touchdown. The Steelers had more penalty yards (84) than offensive yards (66) in the first half.
Pittsburgh found a way to score two touchdowns in the fourth quarter as it clawed back into the game, but it was too late. Baltimore's defense manhandled the Steelers long enough to build a comfortable 21-0 fourth-quarter lead.
Baltimore's offense didn't do much either, but got the big play it needed from the perfect source: former Steelers wideout turned Raven, Mike Wallace. Wallace caught a slant pass and took it 95 yards to the end zone to give the Ravens a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. It was the longest reception the Steelers have allowed since 1966.
The Ravens were boosted by the return of several of their star players, including linebackers Terrell Suggs (biceps) and C.J. Mosley (thigh), offensive linemen Marshal Yanda (shoulder) and Ronnie Stanley (foot) and wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. (ankle).
- The Ravens shot themselves in the foot on their first two offensive drives. An penalty on rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley backed them out of field-goal range on their first drive. On the second drive, an illegal shift negated a first down in the red zone, then quarterback Joe Flacco threw an awful interception across his body.
- The Ravens were backed up at their own 5-yard line when Flacco connected with Wallace on a slant. Wallace swatted away one Steeler tackler and raced 95 yards to the end zone to put the Ravens ahead, 7-0, at the end of the first quarter. It was the longest play from scrimmage in Ravens franchise history (regular season), and tied Wallace's career-longest play.
- Nose tackle Brandon Williams tipped a pass and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan came down with the interception, setting the Ravens up for a 42-yard field goal and a 13-0 lead with about five minutes left in the third quarter.
- Ravens running back Buck Allen burst through the line to block Jordan Berry's punt. Wide receiver Chris Moore picked up the loose ball and went into the end zone for his second special teams touchdown in as many games. The Ravens converted on a two-point conversion to take a 21-0 lead early in the fourth quarter.
- The Steelers scored their first touchdown on a nine-play 75-yard drive midway through the fourth quarter. Roethlisberger scrambled to his right – in true Roethlisberger form – and found wide receiver Antonio Brown open for a split second in the end zone for a 23-yard score. They got their second touchdown when Roethlisberger scrambled up the middle for a 4-yard score.
- The game was sealed when Steelers kicker Chris Boswell muffed a 1-yard onside kick that he hit into his own leg. He was flagged for hitting the ball twice, which gave the ball to the Ravens at the Pittsburgh 36-yard line. Flacco kneeled the ball to close the game from there.
Standout Player of the Game
It's hard to pick one player from the defense who stood above the rest. The interior defensive linemen of Williams, Jernigan and Michael Pierce dominated. While the Ravens dropped three potential interceptions in coverage, they held a dangerous passing attack in check.
On The HorizonThe Ravens will be back at M&T Bank Stadium Thursday night to take on the winless Cleveland Browns in their Color Rush game.
Check out all the best photos from M&T Bank Stadium as the Ravens battle the Pittsburgh Steelers.