Steelers’ defense falters late, Ravens win a 23-20 stunner

Joe Flacco had the ball and 92 yards of Heinz Field’s beat-up grass between him and a Ravens victory. Steeler fans were confident. So was Flacco. 

Flacco dinked and dunked his way down the field like he had all night and Torrey Smith atoned for an earlier TD drop by pulling in a 26-yard TD pass from Flacco with 0:08 seconds left to seal the win for Baltimore.

It’s a shame because the Steelers played a gutsy performance despite missing many key components of their team. The offensive line — specifically Max Starks and Ramon Foster — did an oustandaing job all night long. Larry Foote played an inspiring game in James Farrior’s spot. James Harrison looked like his old self.

But, in the end, the Steelers allowed the Ravens to go 14 out of 21 on 3rd downs, including the winning pass to Smith. Flacco worked William Gay and Keenan Lewis all game long and exposed the Steelers defense with underneath routes. The Ravens offensive game plan seemed to be pass to TE, check down to Rice, delay to Rice, throw the ball up for grabs and hope for a pass interference call. Sadly, it worked. Dennis Pitta had a big game, joining a long line of white TEs who have plagued the Steelers in recent years. 

The Steelers secondary was especially awful during the Ravens’ last drive. They seemed content to give Flacco free 10-yard completions the whole way down the field. The Ravens wisely moved Anquan Boldin into the slot and he dominated Gay during the drive.

It must be said that the Steelers offense didn’t help the defense out much either. Roethlisberger threw a redzone interception to start the 2nd half and the Steelers had to settle for two short Shuan Suisham field goals earlier in the game.

Pittsburgh also committed 6 penalties for 69 yards. Some were certainly questionable. Ryan Clark was correctly flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit that led to a Ravens FG. But Ray Lewis knocked Hines Ward out of the game with a similar hit earlier that went unflagged. Ike Taylor was called for pass interference in the endzone which led to an ensuing Ravens TD. It was not the correct call. 

While it is easy to get frustrated at the inconsistent officiating, the Steelers have plenty of blame to spread around their locker room for this one. The bottom line was that the team had the lead with 2 minutes and change to go and they let Joe Flacco take it away. That drive can never happen if you want to win that game.

There is still a ton of football to be played. The Ravens haven’t clinched the division or the Super Bowl yet, contrary to what people may believe. The Steelers have a huge game with the confident Bengals next week and have to learn from this one and move on.