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 Flacco-to-Smith TD lifts Ravens past Steelers

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PostSubject: Flacco-to-Smith TD lifts Ravens past Steelers   Flacco-to-Smith TD lifts Ravens past Steelers I_icon_minitimeMon Nov 07, 2011 8:55 am

PITTSBURGH —In a pro football season replete with scoring orgies, Sunday night's Baltimore-Pittsburgh divisional confrontation was a classic defensive slugfest between two of the league's most vicious units, one filled with sledgehammer collisions, shoves and taunts.
It also featured one fantastic NFL ending with plenty of late-game offensive fireworks after neither team punctured the end zone in the first half.

"They came out swinging, we came out swinging,'' said Ravens running back Ray Rice, who landed a 76-yard touchdown haymaker on the first play of the game only to have it nullified by a holding penalty against rookie receiver Torrey Smith.

BOX SCORE: Ravens 23, Steelers 20
VIDEO: Ravens-Steelers Highlights

The courageous, injury-wracked Steelers were within eight seconds of exacting revenge for a Week 1 blowout at Baltimore — until Ravens' quarterback Joe Flacco heaved a game-winning 26-yard touchdown to Smith, who atoned for multiple gaffes, for a critical 23-20 AFC North victory. Smith beat Steelers cornerback William Gay and safety Ryan Clark was late coming over to help his teammate.

"Joe was the same way he was in the huddle every single play — calm, confident and actually a little more fired up like, 'Let's go win this game,' '' said Smith, who let a potential game-winning touchdown pass slip through his fingers in the end zone with 35 seconds left in the game.

"He was really relaxed and definitely confident that we could get it done. It's like we practice all the time, our two-minute drill. Perfect scenario.''

Asked if this was the kind of moment he lived for, Flacco joked, "I think you live for 50-0 blowouts, but if you are going to make it tough on yourself, this is probably the most fun way to do it.''

The winning touchdown toss capped a furious and dramatic 92-yard drive consummated in 13 plays and 2:06 that left Heinz Field in stony silence.

It was a crushing home defeat for Pittsburgh (6-3), which dropped a half-game behind the Ravens (6-2) and the Cincinnati Bengals (6-2). The Steelers play the Bengals on Sunday.

The Steelers had won their last seven home games, where they are a dominant force. Baltimore entered the game with a 5-10 all-time record at Pittsburgh, including losing five of the last six, and the Ravens never have defeated the Steelers on the road in the playoffs (0-3).

"This is the toughest place in the world to win,'' said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs.

"Boy, that's a tough defeat for us,'' said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

The Steelers decided against attempting a 52-yard field goal in the final couple of minutes that might have given Pittsburgh a seven-pointdiscount nfl jerseys lead after a critical delay of game penalty because of Tomlin's admitted indecision. Pittsburgh had a new holder because punter Daniel Sepulveda was placed on the injured-reserve list a day earlier and kicker Shaun Suisham is suspect when it comes to being reliable on longer kicks.

"With one more first down, we probably could have kneed it and ended the game,'' said Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey. "But it didn't happen that way. We just didn't do the right things to pull out the win. And it sucks.''

The Steelers punted with 2:34 left and the quarterback they call "Joe Cool,'' demonstrated he could be a resilient leader despite critical drops by his receivers. Flacco finished with 300 yards passing and no interceptions. He also capably led a key drive at the end of the first half that ended with Billy Cundiff kicking a 51-yard field goal for a 9-6 Ravens lead.

"As you can see, Joe Flacco and company did a nice job,'' Tomlin said in classic understatement.

It was the first time Flacco defeated a Ben Roethlisberger-quarterbacked team in Pittsburgh in five attempts. Flacco and the Ravens won here last year but Roethelisberger did not play because he was suspended.

Flacco also overccheap nfl jerseys free shippingame a sack by James Harrison and his subsequent fumble as the Ravens were trying to extend a 16-13 lead in the fourth quarter.

"Nobody shined brighter than Joe Flacco in this game,'' said Ravens coach John Harbaugh.

A major reason the Ravens won was their success on third downs against the NFL's No. 5-ranked defense: Baltimore converted 14 of 21 attempts (67%). Conversely, the Ravens' red-zone defense contributed to their come-from-behind victory as it permitted the Steelers to a 25% success rate (1 of 4). Baltimore entered the game with the league's No. 1 defense.

The Steelers did overcome a 10-point deficit in the final quarter. Roethlisberger, who committed five turnovers in a Sept. 11 defeat at Baltimore, rifled a 25-yard scoring strike on third down to wide receiver Mike Wallace with less than five minutes remaining for a 20-16 advantage.

The Steelers had not allowed 20 points in a game since being routed 35-7 by the Ravens in the season opener. They were playing without injured star linebackers LaMarr Woodley and James Farrior. Veteran Steelers receiver Hines Ward was knocked out of the game in the first half with a "stinger'' after being drilled by Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed.

The Steelers took the second half kickoff and launched a quick-strike drive that reached the Ravens' 14. But the Steelers' offense line failed to cut down linebacker Terrell Suggs, the self-acknowledged "enemy of the state'' who stepped in front of Roethlisberger's quick throw from the shotgun formation at the 20 and picked it off to thwart the red-zone opportunity.

Early in the fourth quarter, Roethlisberger scrambled and sprinted toward the goal line for an 8-yard gain, where he fumbled the ball into the end zone as Steelers receiver Antonio Brown recovered. After a review, Roethlisberger was ruled down at the half-yard line.

On the next play, Rashard Mendenhall bounced off right tackle and scored, trimming the lead to 16-13 with 14:45 remaining.

Roethlisberger finished with 330 yards passing and became the franchise's first signal-caller to throw for more than 300 yards in three conCheap NFL Jerseyssecutive games. Asked if the defeat was the most gut-wrenching loss he had ever experienced, Roethlisberger replied, "Every loss stinks to me.''

In the end, it was Flacco's game heroics in a hostile environment that bailed out Baltimore. For at least one Sunday, he silenced some of his harshest critics who do not believe he can lead the Ravens back to the Super Bowl. Harbaugh said "it's not the critics who count.''

"It's the man who is in the arena whose face is covered with blood, sweat and dust,'' the coach said. "He will never be with those poor and timid souls who know no victory or defeat. So that's what I say to those people. They don't count.''http://pwinn-team.forumotion.com/t4-flacco-to-smith-td-lifts-ravens-past-steelers
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