Bernard Pierce

Baltimore Ravens running back Bernard Pierce. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

Quarterback Joe Flacco tossed two touchdowns, and kicker Justin Tucker made four field goals as the Baltimore Ravens completely dominated division arch rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-6, on Thursday Night Football, Sept. 11 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Considered one of – if not the – most heated rivalries in the NFL, Baltimore and Pittsburgh have always played in nail-biting thrillers. Ten ofthe last 13 games between the two teams have been decided by three points or less. But that’s not how it played out Thursday night. The Ravens took full control of the game from the very start and cruised to an easy victory, despite the distractions stemming from former Ravens running back Ray Rice’s domestic violence scandal.

Baltimore got the ball rolling on defense first, forcing the Steelers into committing a turnover on Pittsburgh’s opening possession of the game. Veteran linebacker Darryl Smith was able to strip the ball from the hands of Steelers receiver Justin Brown, and defensive tackle Deangelo Tyson leaped on the ball for the Ravens’ recovery. Flacco then marched the Ravens’ offensive unit down the field on an 85-yard drive, capped off with a 2-yard touchdown throw to veteran tight end Owen Daniels.

Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker (9) kicks a field goal. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Tucker nailed an easy 30-yard field goal to extend the Ravens’ lead to 10-0 in the second quarter, but the Steelers would cut it to 10-3 by halftime.

However, Flacco later found Daniels, again, for a second touchdown connection in the third quarter that gave Baltimore a 13-6 lead. Baltimore’s defense thereafter shut out Pittsburgh the rest of the way, and Tucker piled on nine uncontested points from field goals in the fourth quarter that pushed the lead to 26-6.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) looks to pass under pressure. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Flacco was sharp the entire game, completing 21 of 29 pass attempts for 166 yards and two touchdowns. Veteran receiver Steve Smith Sr. led the Ravens with six catches for 71 yards and Daniels followed with five catches for 28 yards, including two touchdown catches. Baltimore also had success running the ball, with starting running back Bernard Pierce rushing for 96 yards on 22 carries. Reserve running back Justin Forsett also ran well, posting 56 yards on eight carries, including a 41-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Steelers’ veteran quarterback “Big” Ben Roethlisberger had an off-game; he finished 22 of 37 passed for only 217 yards and zero touchdowns. One of Big Ben’s passes was tipped and intercepted by Ravens’ veteran defensive lineman Haloti Ngata, giving him his fourth interception in his nine-year career.  Baltimore forced three turnovers, including a forced fumble by rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley.

Next-up: The Baltimore Ravens (1-1 record) will face the Browns in Cleveland on Sept. 21. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Eastern Time.

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor