Revived Ravens defeat Steelers

BALTIMORE - The Baltimore Ravens broke their silence and the Pittsburgh Steelers' will. <br><br> A bruising scoring drive to open the game was spearheaded by Jamal Lewis' running. An aggressive defense kept harassing the Steelers quarterbacks. For a day, quarterback Kyle Boller achieved the quiet efficiency of the Trent Dilfer standard.

Returning to their running roots while ripping away three turnovers, the Ravens (1-1) eased concerns created by a season-opening loss with a decisive 30-13 victory Sunday over the Steelers before 69,859 at M&T Bank Stadium. It was the Ravens' seventh win in a row at home, their fourth out of their last five home-openers and their second win in their last eight games against the Steelers in Baltimore.

The Ravens looked a lot more like the defending AFC North champions than they did a week ago in a 20-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns. It's not a coincidence that the ground game was established immediately.

"It was tough," Steelers linebacker James Farrior said. "They just ran the ball down our throats."

Jamal Lewis carried the football seven times for 36 yards on a 10-play, 90-yard drive in the first quarter that lasted six minutes. He capped it with a 3-yard touchdown run behind All-Pro left tackle Jonathan Ogden in his first game back from a knee injury.

"We came out and set the tempo and exactly what type of game it was going to be," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "It's a totally different thing when we don't play our style of football. When we play that type of football, it's just hard for us to get beat."

The Ravens were infuriated by Steelers linebacker Joey Porter roughly shoving tight end Todd Heap to the ground the play after Heap severely sprained his right ankle. Cornerback Chris McAlister used an unprintable expletive to describe Porter.

"There's no reason for anyone to take a cheap shot like that," McAlister said.

X-rays were negative on Heap's ankle, and he'll likely be listed as questionable for next week's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"It just shows what type of character that guy has," Ray Lewis said of Porter. "When you take a cheap shot like that and just try to hurt somebody, it goes way outside of your character and shows what type of spirit he really has."

Meanwhile, the Ravens ran the football 41 times for 172 yards as Lewis scored twice, although gaining just 62 yards on 24 carries for a 2.6 average. Chester Taylor rambled for a career-high 76 yards on nine carries.

Boller completed 10 of 18 passes for 98 yards, no interceptions, with a flea-flicker touchdown pass called back due to receiver Kevin Johnson's illegal motion penalty.

The opening drive made all the difference, though.

"That was huge," Ogden said. "We needed to establish ourselves and get back to what we do. We got back to Raven ball."

The defense sacked Steelers quarterbacks Tommy Maddox and rookie Ben Roethlisberger four times, knocking Maddox out with an elbow injury and holding him to 67 yards on 4-of-13 passing. They intercepted Roethlisberger twice, including Chris McAlister's 51-yard touchdown return for the final score.Plus, linebacker Terrell Suggs returned a Maddox fumble forced by cornerback Gary Baxter 24 yards to set up Lewis' second touchdown run for a 20-0 lead a few minutes into the third quarter. Linebacker Adalius Thomas intercepted Roethlisberger once and deflected three passes.

"We wanted to heat it up a little bit and blitz some guys," Baxter said. "We couldn't let him have all day in the pocket or he'd pick us apart."

It was a physical, chippy game where the Ravens were penalized 10 times for 123 yards, including six unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

"We have a big challenge to find some personal discipline," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "We've done some dumb things."

Safety Ed Reed and nickel back Deion Sanders were both penalized for taking off their helmets. Sanders strutted upfield after a 23-yard punt return.

"The helmet thing wasn't what you all thought it was. It wasn't me celebrating," said Sanders, who left the game with a strained hamstring. "I apologize to the fans and my teammates. That head thing came over my eyes for the last 10 yards. I couldn't see. Don't make something out of nothing."

Reed took off his helmet following a Roethlisberger touchdown to Antwaan Randle-El, emphasizing that his helmet was loose.

Two plays before, Reed dropped a potential interception with the football caroming off his hands directly to Hines Ward. Ward, who led Pittsburgh with six catches for 151 yards, sprinted 58 yards to the Ravens' 3.

"It just slipped through my hands," Reed said. "I saw myself down the sideline to the end zone. I am a better player than that. It won't happen again."

The Ravens never trailed, withstood two Roethlisberger touchdowns, controlled the football for 33:08 and held the Steelers to 93 yards. Plus, they committed no turnovers.

Most importantly, the win prevented Baltimore from falling to 0-2 overall and in the AFC North.

"Anytime you can bounce back from a game like we had last week and win like this is huge," Johnson said. "Guys are really going to rally behind one another. We are going to get where we need to go."

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times


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