The Pittsburgh Steelers knew that they were going to need solid performances in all three phases in order to beat the Baltimore Ravens Sunday night minus their injured starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown, but unfortunately only one of the units delivered in the 16-13 loss.
The Steelers defense played lights out in the loss at Heinz Field as they allowed just 200 net yards of offense and two field goals to the Ravens. The Steelers offense and special teams units, however, failed to hold up their end of the deal as their offense turned over the ball twice and their special teams unit allowed a 63 yard punt return for a touchdown by Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones.
Byron Leftwich, who was filling in for the injured Roethlisberger, was a dismal 18-of-39 passing on the night for 201 yards and an interception. His one rush for a 31 yard touchdown on the games opening drive was one of very few significant plays made on the night by the offense that was 5-of-17 on third downs in the game.
Leftwich was also sacked 3 times in the game and those sacks, combined with several other hits that he endured, seemed took their toll on the 32 year-old quarterback, who appeared to injure his shoulder and ribs in the losing effort.
The Steelers stable of running backs rushed for 96 yards on the night as Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman, and Baron Batch all saw carries in the loss that dropped the team to 6-4 on the season and 2 games back of the Ravens in the division.
The offense scored in the opening minute of the game as Leftwich scrambled around the right end for a 31 yard touchdown just two plays after the Ravens were flagged for pass interference on a deep ball intended for Mike Wallace on the first play of the game. That would be the only touchdown the Steelers would score as their only other score came via a 22 yard-field goal from kicker Shaun Suisham after stalling inside the Ravens red zone late in the third quarter.
The Pittsburgh defense did everything but force a turnover in the game as they sacked Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco twice and held Baltimore to just 47 yards rushing on 23 attempts. Flacco was 20-of-32 passing in the game for a 164 yards but he did not turn the ball over unlike the Steelers.
Cornerback Keenan Lewis had another solid effort in the loss as he recorded 10 total tackles and 2 defensed passes on the night.
The Ravens offense had to settle for a Justin Tucker 26 yard field goal following a recovery of a Wallace fumble on the Steelers second possession and their other field goal by Tucker came off of the lone interception thrown by Leftwich midway through the third quarter.
The Steelers must now regroup for another divisional game as they will travel to Cleveland next week to face the 2-8 Cleveland Browns.