Ravens lose in Pittsburgh, 23-14

January 18, 2009 | Drew Forrester

10:15 pm – It’s last ditch time for Baltimore, as they have the ball on their own 21 with 1:40 to play in the game.  Willis McGahee has movement in both his arms and his legs, so that’s great news for the Ravens on a night when the end result is going to be extremely disappointing.  In fairness, though, they just weren’t good enough.  

Pittsburgh controlled the game and proved tonight – by winning a 3rd straight time vs. Baltimore – that they are the better team.

It’s been a great run for the Ravens and everyone in that locker room should take great pride in the accomplishments of 2008.  

Joe Flacco has just turned the ball over for a 3rd time tonight on a late interception.

And that will do it.

Ravens lose, 23-14.

It will be Arizona and Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.

I don’t think I’ll be watching it.


9:59 pm – A mammoth collision between Willis McGahee and Ryan Clark has quieted the Heinz Field crowd right now as both players are laying prone on the field.  Pittsburgh has recovered a fumble and will likely sew up this AFC title and a trip to Tampa to face Arizona in the Super Bowl.  It’s been a spirited battle by the Ravens tonight, but in the end, they were only in the game by score alone.  Their defense rose to the occasion despite being on the field for most of the first half, but it’s been a strange night of play calling by Cam Cameron and Joe Flacco’s two interceptions led to 10 Pittsburgh points including the game-changing Polamalu return just minutes ago.  Ryan Clark is now up and walking on the Pittsburgh sideline…but McGahee is being attended to and will be carted off the field once medical personnel have secured him.

9:56 pm – It just went from Ravens “well in the game” to “Ravens need a miracle”.  Troy Polamalu picked off a Joe Flacco pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown with less than five minutes to play and Baltimore is now in desperate straits, trailing 23-14 with 4:18 remaining.  The Ravens are now at their own 25 and trying to get a score and an onside kick to produce what truly would be a miracle finish.


9:45 pm – This is all Baltimore could ask for, right?  They’ve been OUT of the game the whole night and now, with 6:50 to play, they’re a field goal away from going ahead.  Is this OUR version of “the drive”?  We’ll see.  After a Darren Stone personal foul penalty on a punt – the Ravens will now get the ball at their own 14 yard line.  Does Joe Flacco have 60 yard drive in him?  That would put the ball at the 26 and give Matt Stover a 43-yard field goal.  Could the Ravens be on their way to the Super Bowl?  They’re a field goal away.


9:29 pm – It’s smelling JUST like Nashville right now.  Baltimore has just scored a TD on a Willis McGahee run to narrow the margin to 16-14.  Don’t look now…but the Ravens are within a field goal of going to the Super Bowl.  There’s 9:29 left in the game and if Baltimore gets a defensive hold here, Joe Flacco will have a chance to drive his team to Tampa.  I’ve been saying it all game in the press box:  “They have no business winning the game – and they’re going to win.”  I said it all week on the air.  “They’ll win this game in Pittsburgh just like they beat the Titans.” They’re alive and well right now but they need to stop Pittsburgh on this series and give the ball to their rookie QB. 


End of the 3rd quarter – If the Ravens are going to the Super Bowl, they’re going to have to earn it with a 4th quarter rally that will be one for the ages.  Baltimore trails, 16-7, and has generated little to no offense throughout the night, except for a decent performance from Willis McGahee (58 yards) running the ball.  It’s been a disjointed night of play calling and QB Joe Flacco hasn’t been as sharp as we’ve seen him in this post-season.  It’s a 15-minute football season.  The Ravens are 9 points behind.  Let’s see what happens in this final period.  It’s all up for grabs now.  Who’s going to Tampa?  We’ll know in 15 minutes. 


9:16 pm – Jeff Reed’s 46-yard field goal has given Pittsburgh a 16-7 lead with 3:38 to go in the 3rd quarter.  It’s not panic time yet for Baltimore – still plenty of football left.  But each time the Ravens don’t score now puts the Ravens’ defense in a “must-hold” position because another Steelers’ score will just about put this away.  So, it’s time for Joe Flacco to step up and rescue his offense.  It hasn’t been a great night for Flacco.  Then again, it hasn’t been a great night for anyone on the offensive side of the ball, starting with the guy calling the plays and trickling down to the players who are executing them.  


9:05 pm – After both teams traded punts, the Steelers regain possession at their own 20 with 9:07 left in the 3rd quarter.  Nothing of note so far – except for the fact that Baltimore’s offensive scheme tonight seems to have taken a page or two or three from Air Coryell in San Diego.  I’m not sure why… – One thing for sure, Pittsburgh’s offense greatly misses Hines Ward, who is out with a right knee injury.  They’ve become ineffective on 3rd down passing situations without Ward in the game.  And that’s a good thing.


8:56 pm – Baltimore picked up one first down on their initial series of the 3rd quarter but have now punted to Pittsburgh and the Steelers will start on their own 20 yard line.  The good news for Baltimore?  Frank Walker is back on the field after missing the final 7 minutes of the second quarter with an injury.  


First half review:  Horrible clock management by the Steelers and a dropped TD pass from Limas Sweed have kept the Ravens in the game tonight at Heinz Field.  Pittsburgh would have been ahead 20-7 had Sweed simply collected an easy throw from Roethlisberger at the end of the first half – but he dropped it at the 4 yard line.  Just before the half, with no timeouts, Pittsburgh threw a ball into the middle of the field that was caught and moved to the 10 yard line, but the clock expired before the Steelers could dirt the ball and get the field goal unit on for a chip shot from Jeff Reed.

This game is eerily similar to the Tennessee game.  Baltimore is losing, but alive, and they really shouldn’t be.  I said all week this is exactly how they would win.  Outgained, outplayed and out-everything’d-else – but on top when the game ends.  

The Ravens defense is in trouble though.  Frank Walker is apparently out for the remainder of the game and Corey Ivy took a bush-league helmet-to-helmet hit from Sweed and may not even know what day it is – let alone play again this night.  Evan Oglesby is a liability back there with his inexperience – and Pittsburgh will throw at him on every occasion in the second half. 

Baltimore needs to start the second half with a good drive and get the momentum back right away.  

If Pittsburgh winds up losing tonight, the Limas Sweed missed catch will be the reason.  

This game is far from over.  It smells like Nashville to me.



8:30 pm – The “make-up call” has arrived at Heinz Field.  Not sure if it will result in any points, but a hideous roughing-the-punter call was almost as bad as the pass interference call on the Steelers earlier in the quarter.  On the first play after the penalty, Roethlisberger completed a short pass to Heath Miller who took the ball down to the Baltimore 21.  There are 23 seconds to play in the half.


8:23 pm – So much for that big series.  Baltimore threw it three times on that series (not sure why) and went 3-and-out .  Pittsburgh gets the ball at midfield after a nice return from Santonio Holmes.  Now they have a BIG SERIES to possibly end the half on a high note. 


8:18 pm – Things might be changing right now at Heinz Field.  Pittsburgh just went 3-and-out and Baltimore gets the ball back at their own 34 with 1:51 to go in the half.  Injuries are now an issue for both teams.  Hines Ward hasn’t played since late in the first quarter after suffering a knee injury and he’s been listed as “doubtful” for the rest of the game.  Frank Walker appears OUT for Baltimore and Terrell Suggs is playing only on obvious passing situations.  A Ravens TD or field goal here to end the half puts them in the driver’s seat – particularly after being outplayed and outgained throughout the first half.   This smells a lot like the Titans game last Saturday.  Undeserving…but still in the game…and, perhaps in a few minutes, either within 3 points or in the lead going into the locker room at halftime.  Another big series right here for Baltimore.  BIG SERIES.


8:14 pm – Just like that, the Ravens are back in the game.  Willis McGahee went in virtually untouched from the 3  and the Steelers lead is cut to 13-7 with 2:40 to go in the first half.  That’s precisely what the Ravens needed in this first half.  They’ve been behind the eight-ball since Flacco’s interception in the first quarter and are very fortunate to be down by 6 at this point.  It’s still VERY MUCH anyone’s game.  Frank Walker has been helped off the field and is in the locker room, which means Evan Oglesby will now play cornerback for Baltimore.


8:12 pm – Remember what I said this past week:  “The Ravens will get the benefit of a call from the refs that will play a huge role in the game.”  Well, they just got a freebee from the officials on a pass interference call (we’ll take it) and Baltimore is on the 3 yard line and ready to pull to within 13-7 with a TD here.


8:08 pm – A strange challenge from John Harbaugh and a costly unsportsmanlike penalty on the Steelers were part of a Pittsburgh series that resulted in a punt and a great return from Jim Leonhard.  Baltimore now has the ball on the Steelers’ 17 with 3:37 to go.  This is a huge series in the game.  The Ravens need to at least get 3 points and would do themselves well to get in the end zone here and pull themselves firmly back into it.


7:55 pm – Drive stalled after Flacco was sacked on 3rd and 6.  Heap was open momentarily on the throw but Flacco failed to pick him up and was brought to the ground for a 5-yard loss.  7:06 to go in the half with the Steelers on top and starting at their own 10.  Ravens desperately need a defensive stop here.  Let’s see if the breather Baltimore’s defense just got with that five minute Baltimore offensive possession has given Ray and Co. some time to get energized.  A turnover would do wonders here.  I’m not begging for one…but I’m as close to begging as you can get, I guess. 


7:50 pm – Baltimore starting to mount a drive here midway through the 2nd quarter.  Ray Rice collected a short pass from Flacco and ran off a 22-yard gain – and minutes later, Derrick Mason picked up a first down on a 15-yard throw from Flacco and suddenly the Ravens are inside Steelers’ territory.  This is a big drive for the Ravens.  Remember, they get the ball to start the second half, so if they can score a TD here and go into the locker room only trailing 13-7, John Harbaugh’s team would be in decent shape.


7:40 pm – Roethlisberger needs to go play in another league somewhere.  He just scampered out of trouble in the pocket and hit Santonio Holmes for a 15-yard completion that turned into a 65-yard TD play as Pittsburgh now leads, 13-0.  Baltimore is scary-close to digging itself a hole they can’t recover from.  The next series is huge.  Stay tuned…


7:32 pm – The Ravens have turned the ball over on downs at the Pittsburgh 34 after Joe Flacco failed to pick up one yard on a 4th and 1 quarterback keeper.  The Ravens had a 3-and-1 play go for no gain before Flacco was stuffed by a swarm of Pittsburgh defenders.


7:28 pm – The Ravens have evened up the turnover battle after Ray Lewis forced a fumble near midfield and Jim Leonhard recovered it for Baltimore.  Ravens still trail, 6-0, but, for now, Pittsburgh’s offense is off the field, which is a good thing at this point.


7:18 pm – Bullet dodged.  Ravens trail 6-0 but it could have been much worse after Flacco’s turnover.  A Santonio Holmes reception at the 1-yard line was overturned after a challenge by John Harbaugh and the Ravens’ defense kept Pittsburgh out of the end zone thereafter.  Jeff Reed’s 42-yard field goal has put Pittsburgh on top, 6-0.  During that series, Hines Ward suffered a leg injury and left the field for a few minutes and went to the locker room before returning to the bench just as Reed was kicking his field goal.  


7:05 pm – Baltimore turns it over in Steelers’ territory with 7:30 to go in the first half, as Joe Flacco’s attempt for Derrick Mason is picked off by Deshea Townsend.  On the play before, Le’Ron McClain dropped a short dump-off in the open field that would have moved the Ravens close to a first-down with a catch and run.  A completion to Hines Ward for an 11-yard gain has moved Pittsburgh to the 24 yard line with 6:54 to go in the quarter.  That interception from Flacco was his first of the post-season.


6:49 pm – Not the best of starts for Baltimore, as the Ravens give up a 45-yard completion to Hines Ward and Jeff Reed boots a 34-yard field to put the Steelers up 3-0 just 3:38 into the game.  Terrell Suggs started for the Ravens after speculation throughout the week that he might be limited or unavailable for duty after suffering a shoulder injury at Tennessee last Saturday.  Baltimore about to go on offense.


6:43 pm – Ravens call “tails” – and it’s “tails”.  And they elect to kick-off.  Here we go…


6:20 pm – I think the Ravens are going to win.  And, if they do, they’ll play Arizona in the Super Bowl.

Yep, Arizona.  The Cardinals.  They concluded an improbable run through the NFC playoffs today by completely collapsing in the second half – but rallying behind Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald to score a late TD on a short pass to Tim Hightower…and defeat the Eagles, 32-25.  It was an amazing second half of football in Arizona, where it looked like the Cardinals were going to get ousted at home after leading by 18 points at the half.  But Warner calmly drove the Cards 80 yards in the 4th quarter and the veteran QB is heading to his 3rd Super Bowl.  

Arizona’s gonna be a tough out in a few weeks unless Fitzgerald contracts diptheria between now and then.

Let’s hope we get the chance to bounce them in Tampa.  Kick-off is 20 minutes away.  Buckle up!



5:30 pm – It’s not a shock, but it’s official.  Samari Rolle is OUT for tonight’s AFC Championship game at Heinz Field.  Frank Walker will start in his place at right cornerback.  It’s snowing lightly here in Pittsburgh. 

Philadelphia has struck for two third quarter TD’s and Arizona has that deer-in-the-headlights-look.  What a collapse this would be if the homestanding Cards squander an 18-point halftime lead.


4:42 pm – The Orioles told me last April that I had “one listener” to the Comcast Morning Show.

That person must have 1800 friends or one helluva Facebook page.

We jammed 1800 folks into the Sheraton Station Square today for our Purple Pep Rally.  And, believe me, it was purple, purple and purple.  

It was an outstanding – SAFE – afternoon of frolicking in “dahn-tahn”…and there’s no question the fans are ready for the big game at Heinz Field.

We expect the Ravens will be ready too.

Back with the scratches in a little while.

Arizona’s punching Philadelphia in the mouth.  Larry Fitzgerald is punching Philadelphia in the mouth and the Cardinals are 30 minutes of good defense from going to the Super Bowl.  They’re going to be a tough out in Tampa.

I hope we have the chance to eliminate them.