The Baltimore Ravens made some costly mistakes Sunday against the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers, but with a late touchdown pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with just 37 seconds left on the clock, the Ravens defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first time in the Joe Flacco-John Harbaugh era.
“There’s only one way to describe it-it’s a team victory,” Harbaugh said. “”To come in here and win this game, it’s important for us. It’s important for a lot of reasons. But, it’s mostly special because of who we’re playing.”
“That football team is a tremendous football team, and this is a tough place to play in. That’s our arch rival and we found a way to beat them in their place, and that’s what makes it so special.”
The win-on top of the Bengals’ 23-20 loss to the Browns-puts the Ravens atop the AFC North due to a head-to-head win over the Steelers.
With the Ravens trailing 14-10 with 2:44 left to play on the Steelers 2-yard line on fourth down, the Ravens elected to throw a fade into the back of the end zone. With no healthy backs, the Ravens really had no choice but to throw, but a bad pass and a bad route by Boldin allowed the ball to fall out of bounds and incomplete.
John Harbaugh and the coaching staff also decided to go for the win instead of kicking the field goal to make it a one-point game and give the ball back to the Steelers with two timeouts and the two-minute warning.
The Ravens blew their second timeout attempting to avoid a delay-of-game penalty before their chance at the end zone to keep it at the 3-yard line.
However, the Steelers then struggled getting out of their own 5-yard line, committing two penalties and were forced to punt to the Ravens, who had wasted their two remaining timeouts before getting the ball back from the Steelers.
“I felt like we were going to win the game when we had the ball earlier when they stopped us on downs,” Houshmandzadeh said. “It’s the one thing with this defense. You know we’re going to get the ball back. I don’t think they wanted to take a chance throwing the ball…and we were able to capitalize.”
With 1:08 left on the clock, Flacco found Boldin for the first two plays of the drive, while Flacco then found Houshmandzadeh twice more, the second being the go-ahead score at 0:32.
The linebackers bit on the coverage with Boldin, and Houshmandzadeh beat Bryant McFadden for the 18 yard score.
“I came to Baltimore to make a lot of plays,” Houshmandzadeh said. “Not to sound cocky, but that’s what I’m supposed to do…it feels good to make a play considering what’s been going on. I feel like that’s what I’m supposed to do.”
Linebacker Ray Lewis then picked off a Charlie Batch pass intended for Hines Ward to seal the win for Baltimore (3-1, 2-1 AFC North).
The Ravens overcame two third quarter turnovers-a Willis McGahee fumble on the Ravens first drive of the third quarter with 12:12 left to play, and an Ike Taylor interception of Joe Flacco intended for Derrick Mason with 2:10 left in the period.
But the real difference in the game was Steelers kicker Jeff Reed missing field goals of 45 and 49 yards on the Steelers’ drives to keep six points off the board for Pittsburgh.
Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff also missed a 46 yard field goal on the Ravens first drive in an attempt to help Baltimore jump out 3-0, but the attempt went wide-right.
But give the Ravens offense credit.
Joe Flacco engineered his fourth career fourth-quarter comeback, and some would believe that this is his first ever comeback against a big-time opponent.
“There’s not too many better ways to win a game,” Flacco said, “especially when you come to Pittsburgh. To blow someone out, that’s fun and all, but when the game is that close all the way through it and you go down and win it on the last drive, and once you’ve done it, there aren’t too many better ways to win a game. It was awesome.”
He finished 24-of-37 for 256 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
“I think there are going to be a lot of defining moments for Joe,” Harbaugh said. “This is going to be one of them. This is going to be one all the Ravens fans out there remember for a long time.”
The three Ravens receivers had exceptional games. The Ravens established Derrick Mason early, and he ended up leading the team in receiving yards with 80. Anquan Boldin had 7 catches for 68 yards in only his second career game against Pittsburgh, and longtime Bengal T.J. Houshmandzadeh put the nail in the coffin with his 18-yard score.
The Ravens also made the most of their opportunities with what they had. Each of their backs-Ray Rice(knee), Willis McGahee(head), and Le’Ron McClain (shoulder) battled or received injuries in Sunday’s game-maybe forcing Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to rely more on the passing game as opposed to grinding the ball down the field or getting that short yardage conversion.
They only gained 70 total yards rushing, with McGahee’s 39 yards and a score standing out before leaving with the head injury he received on the hit from linebacker James Harrison.
But a win-especially against the Steelers in Heinz Field-is all that matters, and the Ravens will look to build on the momentum they built up when they host the Broncos next Sunday at 1 PM.
The Steelers will be on a bye next week and had been looking for their first 4-0 start since 1979. Two weeks from now, Ben Roethlisberger will be eligible to come back from his four-game suspension when they take on Cleveland on October 17th.
Tune into WNST and WNST.net as we continue to track the Ravens throughout the 2010 NFL Season! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!