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Steelers cough up lead, lose to Ravens 23-20

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James Harrison returned to action and looked like his 2008 self, racking up three sacks and a forced fumble, but Pittsburgh's defense faltered when it mattered most and Baltimore's Joe Flacco drove 92 yards in a little over two minutes for a 26-yard touchdown to Torrey Smith, capping off a 23-20 win for the Ravens.

Pittsburgh caught a few breaks; Baltimore caught a few as well. When it came down to crunch time, though, the Ravens simply outperformed their division rivals.

Despite a three-sack performance from James Harrison in his return to action, Pittsburgh’s defense wasn’t able to hold up in key situations.  Baltimore converted 14 of its 21 chances on third down, the last of which was the game-winning 26-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to rookie Torrey Smith with eight seconds left in the game.

Smith was an odd choice for hero of the game, considering his day began with a hold that wiped out a 76-yard touchdown run by Ray Rice on the very first play of the game.

The Ravens pushed their way into scoring territory anyways, but the drive came up one-yard short and they were forced to settle for a chip-shot field goal by Billy Cundiff.

Baltimore mimicked last week’s Steelers and dominated time of possession in the first quarter, running 24 plays to Pittsburgh’s six.

The Steelers cracked the scoreboard in the second quarter with a 36-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham, with the Ravens answering one drive later with a 43-yarder.

The two rivals continued to trade field goals in the second quarter, with each team tacking on a three-pointer before the end of the half. When the team’s left the field, the Baltimore Cundiffs lead the Pittsburgh Suishams 9-6.

Pittsburgh came out in the no-huddle to open the second half and took Baltimore by surprise, moving down the field with startling efficiency until the team found itself in the red zone. Unfortunately, the Steeler-killer Terrell Suggs struck again, picking off a pass to end the possession.

The Ravens would score the game’s first touchdown on the ensuing drive, with Ray Rice barreling into the end zone for a four-yard touchdown and a 16-6 Ravens lead.

Pittsburgh refused to go quietly and Rashard Mendenhall matched the touchdown from a yard out to bring the game within three at the start of the fourth quarter.

Then, Harrison decided to take over. He notched a sack to kick off Baltimore’s next possession and ended it with a sack-fumble and a long overdue takeaway for Pittsburgh.

Six plays later, Ben Roethlisberger connected with Mike Wallace for a 25-yard touchdown to give the Steelers their first lead of the game at 20-16 with less than five minutes remaining.

It looked as though Pittsburgh would prevail with a key three-and-out by the defense on the next drive, but Pittsburgh would need to kill over four minutes of clock to win the rematch.

The Steelers offense managed to kill two minutes and was in position to attempt a 46-yard field goal, but coach Mike Tomlin hesitated and the team was flagged for delay of game. Pittsburgh was forced to punt instead, and pinned Baltimore at their own eight-yard line with two-minutes and change remaining in a hard-fought game.

Baltimore converted a fourth down and two straight third downs, the last of which was the 26-yard touchdown to Smith, who actually dropped a pass in the end zone just a few plays earlier.

Pittsburgh had no chance of making up ground with only eight seconds left, and Baltimore left the city of bridges with a 23-20 victory that unseated the Steelers from the top of the AFC North.

Injuries
Hines Ward officially left the game with a stinger, but Tomlin described it as “concussion-like symptoms” in his post-game press conference. Arnaz Battle suffered a hamstring injury early in the contest.

Through the Air
Roethlisberger completed 20 of his 37 attempts for 330 yards and a touchdown, but threw an interception in the red zone that killed a second-half scoring drive. Antonio Brown led the team with five receptions for 109 yards. Heath Miller also notched five catches for 73 yards. Mike Wallace caught four balls for 68 yards and a touchdown, and Jerricho Cotchery registered his first three catches as a Steeler for a total of 44 yards.

On the Ground
Rashard Mendenhall only ran the ball 13 times and picked up 52 yards on the day, including a one-yard score. Ben Roethlisberger added 13 yards on three scrambles.

Defense
James Harrison notched three sacks and forced a fumble for the team’s only takeaway. Outside of Harrison, the defense struggled. Baltimore’s running game was held in check, but Joe Flacco picked up 300 yards through the air. More importantly, the Ravens converted 14 of their 21 third downs and picked up a fourth down conversion on the game-winning drive. Larry Foote led the team with nine total tackles.

Special Teams
Shaun Suisham converted both of his field goal attempts with a long of 36. Jeremy Kapinos averaged only 33 yards on three punts in his first game of the season in relief of the injured Daniel Sepulveda. Antonio Brown picked up 25 yards on his lone kickoff return and averaged 10.5 yards on two punt returns. Pittsburgh allowed 32.3 yards per return in the kickoff game.

Game Ball
James Harrison looked like the Defensive Player of the Year once again in his return from injury and may have been the best player on the field for both teams.

Up Next
The Steelers travel to Cincinnati to face the 6-2 Bengals and will look for their first victory within the division. Kickoff is at 1:00 PM on CBS. 

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