By Matthew Marczi
The Pittsburgh Steelers enter the second half clinging to a four-point lead after relinquishing an 11th hour turnover on a Heath Miller fumble that led to a Baltimore Ravens field goal to end the half with the score of 10-6. The Ravens open the second half with the ball after deferring on the opening coin toss.
Jacoby Jones returned the opening kickoff out to the 29. The Steelers defense quickly forced a third and six, however. On third down, following a timeout, and then a delay of game, Joe Flacco scrambled for the first down after not finding a receiver open, but a holding penalty on Ike Taylor added an extra five yards to the end of the run and would have given the Ravens a first down anyway.
The Ravens were flagged once again, this time for a false start, to set up first and 15 from the 40. Ray Rice was able to gain 14 on a dump off pass, however. Lawrence Timmons gained penetration on second down to help stop the run for no gain and set up third down. Troy Polamalu was offsides, however, on a third down play that ended in a sack.
Polamalu did an excellent job breaking up a pass intended for Rice on the ensuing play, and then stopped Rice for a two-yard loss. On a deep drop, William Gay broke up an underthrown ball intended for Jacoby Jones that, if accurate, may have gone the distance. The ensuing punt bounced into the end zone and the Steelers escaped an early second-half scare.
Ben Roethlisberger and the offense took the field for the first time in the second half. On the first play, play action was enough to open up David Paulson for a 17-yard gain that he went to his knees to, eventually, secure. Emmanuel Sanders was flagged for holding on the next play. Guy Whimper limped off the field and was replaced by Mike Adams, but soon came back in.
On the following play, Antonio Brown gained just three on a receiver screen. The Ravens were offsides on second down, and then were flagged for unnecessary roughness, both on Elvis Dumervil. The latter penalty was accepted for a first down after an eight-yard pass.
Now across midfield, Le’Veon Bell ran another snap from the wildcat and took the ball for seven yards. Bell kept it again but was a yard short of the first. On third and one, Roethlisberger was back under center and escaped pressure to scramble for the sack after a Terrell Suggs whiff that turned into a 19-yard gain.
Le’Veon Bell burst through a hole for seven yards from the 20-yard line on the following play. On second and three, Suggs got to Roethlisberger, and Kelvin Beachum’s momentum helped bring the quarterback down to complete the sack, forcing the Steelers to take a timeout to regain their composure. After the timeout, Roethlisberger was sacked again, but Dumervil was also flagged again, this time for a facemask on the sack, which gave the Steelers first and ten from the 11.
Bell burst through yet another hole, helped by a block by Paulson, for seven yards on the following play. On second and three, Bell was dropped by safety Matt Elam for a loss of one. Antonio Brown was flagged for a false start on third down. From the shotgun, Roethlisberger’s pass intended for Sanders was broken up by Corey Graham. Shaun Suisham’s field goal extended the lead back to a touchdown, however, at the score of 13-6.
The field goal drive chewed up eight minutes, leaving just three to go on the third. Suisham’s kickoff this time went for a touchback. Timmons caught Bernard Pierce from behind for no gain on first down. On second down, Torrey Smith beat Ike Taylor for 41 yards down to the 39. Ray Rice picked up nine down to the 30, and converted the first down a plan later. Shamarko Thomas made a stop on the next play, however, to chip at the momentum. On second and nine, Marlon Brown got enough for the first down as Brett Keisel limped off the field.
Mike Tomlin challenged the spot, and the play was reversed, ruling Brown short of the first down to set up third and short. Perhaps the successful challenge, and the brief respite, will help turn the tide back in Pittsburgh’s favor. It seemed to have worked, as Timmons and Woodley helped stop Vontae Leach on third and one. On fourth down, however, Flacco was able to convert to keep the drive alive.
On first down, Flacco’s pass went out of bounds at the front corner of the end zone. On the next play, Rice was stopped after a three-yard gain. On third and seven, Flacco’s pass was broken up by Gay after being able to scramble away from Woodley. That was Gaya’s second pass deflection of the game that saved a touchdown. Justin Tucker’s field goal made it a four-point game again at 13-9.
John Harbaugh, the cocky former special teams coordinator, arrogantly attempted an onside kick, and it backfield heavily. His team was offsides and illegally touched the ball and the Steelers still recovered the ball. From the 38-yard line, Roethlisberger scrambled on first down for seven yards. On second down, Jones was able to hit a small hole for six yards and put the Steelers in range for a field goal with a new set of downs.
Jones pushed ahead to make a two-yard gain out of nothing. On second and eight, Roethlisberger tossed a three-yard pass to Jones after finding nothing else open. Now on third down, Roethlisberger went to the end zone for Derek Moye, who had a chance for the touchdown, but could not secure the ball. Instead, Suisham had to add another field goal to extend the league back to a touchdown’s margin at 16-9.
On first down, Jason Worilds lost the edge and allows a seven-yard gain, but on second down, a holding penalty on the Ravens negated a first down reception. Now on second and 14, Flacco’s pass was completed to Smith and was good for a first down. From the 39, Ray Rice caught a three-yard pass with good coverage by Timmons to limit him to just that. Jacoby Jones was pushed out of bounds by Gay to set up third and three, and Flacco found him again after scrambling for the first down.