by Perry Green
AFRO Sports Editor
BALTIMORE (NNPA)–The Baltimore Ravens gave up a late 20-13 lead and let their arch rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers come back to steal a 23-20 road victory on Sunday Dec. 2 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md.
The loss snapped the Ravens’ 15-game home winning streak, which was the longest home game winning streak of any active team in the NFL. It also marked only their second loss in the last 24 contests played at M&T Bank stadium.
The Steelers sealed the win when kicker Shaun Suisham nailed a 40-yard field goal to push Pittsburgh ahead, 23-20, as the game clock expired to zero. Steelers back up quarterback Charlie Batch led his team down the field after starting from their own 20-yard line with seven minutes left in the game. The Steelers used up all seven minutes on their drive before setting up for the easy game-winning field goal.
Most Outstanding Player(s) of the Game:
Hats must go off in salute to Charlie Batch, who was just carrying a clipboard as the third-string quarterback just a few weeks ago. But when second-string quarterback Byron Leftwhich got injured and normal starter Ben Roethlisberger couldn’t go because of his own injury, Batch stepped in and played well for the Steelers. Batch completed 25-of-36 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown and a passer rating of 89.6. He threw two weird interceptions, but also made a few big passes on the final game-winning drive that set up the easy field goal for Suisham.
Steelers tight end Heath Miller was the target of most of Batch’s catches; he caught five passes for 97 yards and a short touchdown that tied the game at 20 late in the fourth quarter.
Unsung Hero of the Game:
Steelers starting cornerback Ike Taylor left the game early with an injury, but his replacement, Cortez Allen, filled in very well. The Ravens’ offense usually is unstoppable at home but Allen came in and kept veteran receiver Anquan Boldin pretty quiet for most of the game. With Boldin and the rest of the receivers struggling to get open, the Ravens offensive attack sputtered and Pittsburgh was able to steal a win.
More Game Notes:
Batch has had plenty of success prior to coming off the bench for an injured Roethlisberger. He led Pitt to a 4-0 start just two seasons ago when Big Ben was suspended to start the season, so Baltimore was expecting him to play decent today. It’s too bad Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco didn’t play to his normal home-game standards. Flacco usually puts up huge numbers at home but today he completed only 16-of-34 passes for 188 yards, one touchdown, an interception and a dismal passer rating of 61.9. He also was sacked hard and fumbled the ball late in the fourth quarter, giving the Steelers the ball in prime scoring position. That ultimately led to the Steelers’ comeback victory.
Ravens running back Ray Rice ran for 78 yards and a 34-yard touchdown on 12 carries.
On defense, the Ravens were led by cornerback Corey Graham with nine tackles and an interception. Ed Reed also recorded an interception, his 61st of his career.
Steelers’ linebacker James Harrison led his team with six tackles, including a sack.
This was a bad loss for the Ravens. It not only ended their dominant home game winning streak, but it also came against their hated rivals, the Steelers. Unlike most fans watching, I’m not surprised at all that Charlie Batch was able to make some big plays in the game. He has done this for the Steelers so many times before. But I am very surprised that Flacco and the Ravens offense didn’t play better. This was a home game and this team doesn’t lose home games. The loss will make things more difficult as the team tries to maintain its control over the AFC North division. They’re still 9-3 overall, which is impressive for any team. But 10-2 would have been a lot better.
NOTES: Pittsburgh CB Ike Taylor hurt his right ankle in the first quarter and did not return. … Tomlin said FB Will Johnson “probably has a concussion.” … Brown has thrown two passes this season. The other one was incomplete. … Baltimore missed a chance to go 10-2 for the first time in franchise history. … Rice’s 32nd rushing touchdown broke a second-place tie with Willis McGahee on the team’s career list.
(Perry Green is sports editor for the Afro American.)