Steelers 23, Ravens 20
There’s still a tomorrow for the Pittsburgh Steelers, all they
could have asked for only days ago. There’s also a next week for
the Baltimore Ravens, or exactly what they didn’t want.
Jeff Reed’s 38-yard field goal put Pittsburgh ahead with 5:25
remaining and the Steelers finally preserved a fourth-quarter lead,
beating rival Baltimore 23-20 on Sunday to further jumble the
complicated AFC postseason race.
The Steelers (8-7), their season seemingly ended by a
late-season five-game losing streak, followed their last-second
37-36 victory over Green Bay with another tight victory helped by
Reed’s three field goals and Rashard Mendenhall’s touchdown run.
Now, their final regular season game at Miami will have some
meaning, although the Steelers could win and still be
According to the NFL, the Ravens (8-7) will clinch an AFC
wild-card playoff spot if they win Sunday at Oakland. The Steelers
must win and hope for some losses as the Jets, Ravens, Broncos,
Texans and Pittsburgh all go into the final weekend with the same
“It’s been do or die for us for a while, fighting to the last
minute. We’re like the cardiac kids,” said Ben Roethlisberger, who
threw a touchdown pass while becoming the first Steelers
quarterback to pass for 4,000 yards in a season.
Joe Flacco threw touchdown passes of 30 and 7 yards to Todd
Heap, but the Ravens couldn’t overcome two touchdowns wiped out by
penalties, a dropped TD pass by Derrick Mason and 113 yards in
penalties. If they had won, the Ravens would have clinched because
the Jaguars and Broncos both lost. Instead, their season could be
riding on the Oakland game.
“We can’t wait to go get on that plane,” Ravens coach John
The Super Bowl champion Steelers have lost six leads in the
final quarter during a season marked by victories over contenders
San Diego, Baltimore, Minnesota, Green Bay and Denver, and losses
to the Chiefs, Raiders and Browns. This time they closed it out
with a scoreless final quarter after giving up a 20-10 lead during
“We know our defense has been struggling to stop teams at the
end of the game, and this was big for us,” linebacker James
Farrior said. “Hopefully it will carry over and we’ll have teams
do what need to do and we can get into the dance, because that’s
the ultimate goal.”
Ray Rice ran for 141 yards to end Pittsburgh’s 33-game streak of
not allowing a 100-yard rusher, but Baltimore still lost its fifth
game by six points or fewer.
The Ravens were repeatedly hurt by their mistakes and penalties
during their ninth loss in their last 10 in Pittsburgh, counting
A wide-open Mason, their most reliable receiver, dropped a
certain touchdown pass in the end zone on the first play of the
fourth quarter when the ball clanked off his face mask, preventing
the Ravens from going ahead 27-20.
During a testy postgame news conference, Harbaugh wouldn’t blame
the disparity in penalties – 113 yards to Pittsburgh’s 20 – or the
“You can go to penalties if you want, you can put your finger
on whatever you want, but we’re going to Oakland and we’re going to
play our hearts out,” Harbaugh said.
Baltimore had a chance late, but rookie defensive end Ziggy Hood
– who earlier got his first NFL sack – recovered Flacco’s fumble on
fourth-and-10 from the Steelers 39 with 2:27 to play. After that,
an apparent interception thrown by Roethlisberger was wiped out by
an illegal contact penalty on cornerback Frank Walker, and
Pittsburgh ran out the clock.
Roethlisberger followed his franchise-record 503-yard game
against Green Bay by going 17 of 33 for 259 yards, including a
24-yard TD pass to Santonio Holmes that ended a 94-yard drive
during the final 2 minutes of the first half.
“He (made the wrong adjustment) and I shouldn’t have thrown it,
but I did and we scored,” Roethlisberger said. “It was completely
wrong in every way except we scored a touchdown.”
Roethlisberger has 4,108 yards with one game remaining, while
Mendenhall gained 36 yards to give him 1,014.
Flacco started the second half by hitting Heap for 7 yards to
end a 64-yard drive, and Domonique Foxworth’s interception led to
Billy Cundiff’s 35-yard field goal and a 20-20 tie. But the Ravens
could have had much, much more.
Foxworth scored on the interception, only to have Terrell Suggs’
illegal block penalty put the ball back on the Steelers 37.
“Missed opportunities is the moral of this story,” Foxworth
On Baltimore’s next possession, Willis McGahee’s apparent
32-yard TD run was wiped out by a holding call on wide receiver
Kelley Washington, and the Ravens punted.
“I think that call was very late,” Harbaugh said. “It didn’t
seem like if affected the play.”
Rice wouldn’t blame the officials, saying, “We score points, we
win the game. Everything else is self-explanatory.”
NOTES: The Steelers have two 1,000-yard receivers (Holmes, Hines
Ward), a 1,000-yard rusher and a 4,000-yard passer for the first
time. … Pittsburgh went 6-2 at home. … The Steelers allowed 121
points in the final quarter during their first 14 games, second
most in the league. … Farrior’s interception in the first quarter
was Pittsburgh’s first in seven games. … The Ravens are 0-3 in
Pittsburgh the last two seasons.