Nothing will satisfy Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens more than winning the Super Bowl—but a huge divisional win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh is definitely a close runner-up.
The Ravens edged their biggest rivals, 17-14, on Oct. 3 thanks to late game heroics by both Baltimore’s offense and defensive units.
Despite struggling in the first two games of the season, the Ravens’ offense made several big plays against the Steelers’ top-ranked defense to pull off a fourth-quarter, come-from-behind victory in Pittsburgh’s hostile territory. The AFC North division win advances Baltimore to a 3-1 overall record and 2-1 in their division, while Pittsburgh shares the same 3-1 record, and a tie for the top spot in the division after suffering their first loss of the season.
Baltimore sealed the win when…
Ravens third-year quarterback Joe Flacco found veteran receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh on a 18-yard touchdown pass-and-catch to give Baltimore a 17-14 lead with just over 30 seconds left in the game. The Steelers had one last desperate possession on offense, but Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis intercepted a pass from Pittsburgh quarterback Charlie Batch to end the game.
Outstanding Player(s) of the Game:
Flacco completed 24 of 37 passes for 256 yards, connecting with seven different receivers against the NFL’s stingiest defense. But Flacco was most impressive on the game-winning drive, completing all four passes he attempted for 40 yards and the decisive touchdown. Flacco proved he can make the big play, no matter what defense he faces.
Unsung Hero of the Game:
The Ravens struggle to move the ball when their offensive line plays badly, but when the o-line does perform well, the offensive is almost unstoppable. The offensive line was outstanding against the Steelers, particularly right guard Chris Chester, who helped right tackle Marshal Yanda hold Pittsburgh’s star linebacker Lamar Woodley to only two tackles. Woodley is one of the best pass rushers in the league, but he didn’t come close to sacking Flacco, thanks to the protection of Chester and Yanda. Chester also helped clear some running lanes up the middle, which led to a touchdown score by Willis McGahee in the first quarter. Chester also saved a potential Baltimore turnover by falling on a Flacco fumble early in the game.
More Game Notes:
The Ravens won a game in Pittsburgh for the first time since head coach John Harbaugh and Flacco arrived in 2008. Baltimore is now 2-4 against Pittsburgh since the 2008 season.
Newly-acquired receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh bounced back from his poor performance in Week 2. The savvy veteran receiver made a beautiful double-move on a Pittsburgh defender to get wide open and catch the game-winning score. “Housh,” as he’s called by most fans, finished the game with three catches for 49 yards and one touchdown.
“I came to Baltimore to make a lot of plays,” Houshmandzadeh told reporters after the game. “Not to be cocky, but I feel like I should always be the guy .”
Fellow receiver Anquan Boldin celebrated his 30th birthday on Oct. 3, catching seven passes for 67 yards.
The Ravens will host the Denver Broncos (2-2) at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Oct. 10. The Steelers will take a bye week and prepare for the return of franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Week 6.