On the first snap, Jason Worilds picked up where he left off in his strong run defense, tackling Bernard Pierce from behind before he could break away for what might have gone for a first down otherwise.
He nearly got a third sack on Joe Flacco a few plays later, but he got the ball out to Jacoby Jones.
More third and long completions. This time, and eight-yard reception on third and eight to Torrey Smith.
Flacco to Smith on third and eight again on the same drive put the Ravens into field goal range.
Another great play by Ike Taylor, preventing a touchdown in the end zone. Give credit where it’s due.
I liked the call to go over the top to Heath Miller to start the third quarter.
Running lanes started to open up a bit after that.
On cue, Le’Veon Bell broke out his longest run of his career, a 43-yarder on third and two near midfield.
Ben Roethlisberger’s first pass was a duck right into the ground. His second pass was off-balance but on-target to Jerricho Cotchery in the far left corner of the end zone, which at least gave his receiver a chance.
I love the job Emmanuel Sanders did on Daryl Smith in the end zone on third and goal from the eight. He cut hard right to sneak behind him, and as soon as the linebacker lost track of him, he broke left to the wide open middle of the end zone. He wasn’t even open yet when Roethlisberger threw the ball, but he knew he would be open, and he was about to get laid out by Haloti Ngata, who was comically playing shallow center field.
It was probably the most impressive chemistry play I’ve ever seen between Roethlisberger and Sanders. There have been too many of the opposite this year.
The officials missed a fairly obvious holding call on Jacoby Jones’ punt return. I’m not sure who the culprit was, but the victim was Terence Garvin, and it was right in front of the returner.
After the return and a short first-down pass to Ed Dickson, Lawrence Timmons stopped Ray Rice three times on consecutive plays. Evidently it frustrated him enough to result in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Another third down and an opportunity to get off the field squandered. After the Steelers went three-and-out, the defense put the Ravens in the same scenario. Only on third and four, they gave Flacco over six seconds to find Jones down the field for a big gain.
Michael Oher was flagged for false starting once again. Shocking. Not that he false started, but that he was flagged. I guess there’s no mercy rule for false start flags on one player.
The Steelers actually got the Ravens into third and 13 after the long completion to Jones, but it was still close enough to put them in field goal range, extending the lead at the time to 19-7.
Roethlisberger’s pocket mobility is really underappreciated. He plays a dangerous game sometimes, but he usually wins. When he doesn’t, it tends to be a strip sack or something.
Some shifty moves by Le’Veon Bell on receptions early in the second half. And that was before his 29-yarder.
And a phantom touchdown for Heath Miller. He followed that up with a great seal block on Smith for a walk-in touchdown by Bell.
Another long conversion on third and four. Nobody covers Rice out of the backfield, so he finds the right sideline for 22 yards.
Then on third and 12 from the 40, a 10-yard reception by Smith put the Ravens back in field goal range to make it an eight-point lead, which proved to be the difference.
Regardless of that, the Steelers displayed some of the most heart all year on that final drive.
Miller was Roethlisberger’s security blanket on that drive, going to him on three consecutive plays, and then from the 20 for what looked like a touchdown at first but was ruled down at the one.
I’ve already written about Bell’s non-touchdown touchdown. The rule is imperfect.
The Steelers were down two left tackles, a center, and a running back by that point. You’d have to think that impacted their play selection.
Lost in the shuffle is that that was Jerricho Cotchery’s eighth touchdown of the year.
Bell also has five rushing touchdowns, and should have six.
Nobody feels worse about the failed two-point conversion than Sanders, so I’m not going to pile on at this point. While it’s still a pass he should and could have caught, by no means was it an easy play between the angle of the pass and being faceguarded by the defender.
At least the onside kick was interesting, if ineffective. If there are any positives to take away from that play, it’s that Markus Wheaton had the presence of mind not to touch the ball before it went 10 yards.