Game Recap - Steelers vs Ravens

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It didn't take long to see how violent Sunday night's matchup between the Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers would be.

While black, purple and gold were the primary colors of this prime-time matchup, red certainly stood out in the Ravens' 13-10 loss.

On the Steelers' first drive, Baltimore defensive tackle Haloti Ngata bloodied quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's nose with an errant paw.  Later in the game, Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was seen with a blood-reddened lip as a result of his physical play.

Still, the Ravens (8-4) were the ones whose record was battered, as Pittsburgh improved to 9-3 and in control of the rough-and-tumble AFC North.

The Ravens led for three and a half quarters and were clinging to a 10-6 advantage when quarterback Joe Flacco was sacked and stripped by Steelers safety Troy Polamalu late in the game.  Linebacker LaMarr Woodley recovered the fumble and returned to Baltimore's 19-yard line. 

Three plays later, Roethlisberger hit backup running back Isaac Redman with a short pass, and the 6-foot, 230-pounder broke a Dawan Landry tackle en route to the end zone with two minutes and fifty one seconds left on the clock. 

It was the only Steelers' touchdown of the game, and it was a game-changer.

"Basically, we gave the game away at the end," said Ravens Head coach John Harbaugh.  "We should've won the football game, and that's disappointing.  We'll keep fighting like we always do.  We'll find a way to get in the playoffs. We still might win the division. 

"We'll keep fighting for that."

The Ravens didn't do themselves any favors for the division, however.

In losing to the Steelers by allowing another lead slip away in the fourth quarter, they gave up the chance to notch a second series sweep in franchise history, an early bead on the AFC North title and, essentially, a first- or second-place playoff seed.

"It sucks because we felt like we were in control the whole game and then all-of-a-sudden you look up and it's over," said linebacker Jarret Johnson.  "It's disappointing."

It was a third-down play in the first quarter when Ngata overran backup guard Ramon Foster to get through to Roethlisberger, sharing a sack with Suggs as he inadvertently batted the quarterback's facemask.  Roethlisberger was shown holding a towel to his face on the ensuing series to stem the blood flow.

The Ravens held Pittsburgh to only 114 net yards of offense in the first half, shutting an opponent out during that span for the first time this season.

Meanwhile, the Ravens used a 61-yard completion to wideout Anquan Boldin, setting up his own touchdown reception of 14 yards to go up 7-0 in the first quarter.

The drive, which spanned 92 yards in 10 plays, was the longest given up by the Steelers this year.  Flacco, who completed 17 of 33 passes for 266 yards, was also 6-of-6 for 103 yards on the march.

The Ravens' problems started in the second half, however.

Coming out of the break, the Steelers marched 53 yards in seven plays to set up a 45-yard field goal by kicker Shaun Suisham to make the score 7-3.

The Steelers added another field goal and the Redman touchdown to eventually take the lead.

Flacco said he was surprised to put the football on the turf to set up the go-ahead points.

"It was an all-out blitz," Flacco noted.  "They really brought everybody, and I took three steps and raised my arm and just got hit.  I was pretty shocked to see it myself, but that guy's made that play in his career."

Meanwhile, the Ravens managed only 96 yards in the second half, settling for a Billy Cundiff field goal in the third quarter to cap a drive that went to Pittsburgh's 6-yard line.

"I guess we just never really got in our groove," Flacco said.  "We would like to score more than 10 points, obviously.  We would have liked to have put a touchdown on the board there instead of a field goal.  We'd be having a little different conversation right now [if we did]. 

"But, I know that's not what happened.  We didn't score enough points to win.  That's really what it came down to today."

The Ravens had a chance in the end, getting the ball back after the Redman score with 2:50 remaining.

Flacco led the offense to the Steelers' 31, and the Ravens could have kicked a long field goal in the face of 31-mph wind gusts.  Instead, Harbaugh opted to go for it on fourth down after calling his third and final timeout. 

"It was just a tough wind up there," Harbaugh said.  "It was really outside of our range, as we designated going in.  We felt like we had a better chance to get the first down than we had to get that field goal."

The Ravens' hopes were dashed when Flacco one-hopped a pass to rookie tight end Ed Dickson with 37 seconds left.

As Roethlisberger took an ending knee, the Steelers took control of the division.  And while the Ravens still have a solid chance to make the playoffs – and perhaps even surpass Pittsburgh with four games remaining – a win Sunday would have surely put them in the driver's seat.

With a "Monday Night Football" matchup at Houston, the Ravens cannot afford to let Sunday's misstep rattle them – especially with a shot to see the Steelers again in the postseason.

"These are the ones that you think about," said cornerback Josh Wilson.  "You've got to get ready for next week.  We've got another big one coming next week, and we can't sit here and dwell on this.  We'll definitely have another chance at this."

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