The Baltimore Ravens fell from the top of the AFC North division after losing a 13-10-nail biter to their archrival Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 5 at M&T Bank Stadium. It was by far the toughest lost the Ravens have suffered this season as they blew a late game lead, surrendering the opportunity to clinch the AFC North title. Baltimore now sits in second place in their division with an 8-4 overall record, while Pittsburgh (9-3 overall) moved ahead in first place. The division series is now split between Baltimore and Pitt with a win by each ball club (the Ravens beat the Steelers, 17-14, in Pittsburgh back in week 5).
The Steelers stole the victory from Baltimore when…
Ravens third-year quarterback Joe Flacco short-armed a pass to rookie tight end Ed Dickson for an incompletion on 4th down and 2, turning the ball over on downs at the Pittsburgh 32-yard line with 33 seconds left in the game. With no more timeouts left, Pittsburgh kneeled on the ball to run the clock out for the win.
Both Ravens fans and media members questioned whether or not Baltimore should have attempted a field goal on that final fourth down play, which would have been a 47 to 48-yard attempt for kicker Billy Cundiff, whose career long is well over 50 yards. But Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the wind was too strong to make that call.
“The percentage of making that kick was very low,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, and the way the wind was blowing, we didn’t feel we were close enough… The 27-yard line was about where we wanted to try that kick….”
The Ravens had a chance to extend a 10-6 lead late in the fourth quarter, but Steelers star safety Troy Polamalu perfectly timed a blitz, sacking and forcing Flacco to fumble. Steelers’ linebacker Lamar Woodley scooped the fumble and returned it deep into the Ravens red zone. Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger found former backup tailback Isaac Redman for a 9-yard touchdown, giving the Steelers a 13-10 lead and eventual win. The former Bowie State University star running back broke two tackles on his way into the end zone.
More Game Notes:
Roethlisberger came into the game with an injured foot, and left with what appeared to be a broken bloody nose. Steelers’ staff reported during the game that his nose was not broken, but you could see his nose clearly bent up and dislocated every time TV cameras zoomed in. After the game, “Big Ben” confirmed his broken nose.
“It hurt a lot,” he said of the foot during the post game press conference, “but the broken nose took some of the pain away.”
Regardless of being banged up, the veteran quarterback passed for 253 yards and an eventual game-winning touchdown.
Flacco finished with 266 yards and a touchdown, but the late game fumble killed the Ravens’ chance of sealing a victory.
“It was an all-out blitz. They brought everybody,” Flacco said. “I took three steps and raised my arm and was getting hit. It was pretty shocking.”
The Ravens still have a chance to catch Pittsburgh and retake the lead of the AFC North, but they’ll have to keep winning, starting with a road trip to Houston to take on the Texans (5-7 overall). They’ll also need a loss from Pittsburgh who takes on a struggling 2-10 Cincinnati Bengals.