Steelers couldn't get out of own way

The Steelers had their most penalty-riddled game in almost two years and lost to the Ravens, 17-14.

PITTSBURGH – The Steelers got a sack from Casey Hampton, an interception from Ike Taylor, and had the edge in turnovers and rushing yardage, yet lost a home game to the Baltimore Ravens, 17-14, because the offense couldn't get out of its own way.

No, no, not the Flozell Adams knocking down a scrambling Charlie Batch kind of in the way, but the "Steelers beating Steelers" type of play that killed the most important offensive possession of the game, and then of course killed the game.

"Turnovers and penalties always kill you," Rashard Mendenhall said quietly in a thinned-out Steelers locker room.

While the Steelers could've been off celebrating a 4-0 record and two-game lead over the Ravens throughout their bye, they instead will only think of what might've been had they taken advantage of a few golden opportunities.

To wit:

* The Ravens fumbled at their own 27 to end their first possession of the second half. But Mike Wallace was stopped after gaining a yard on a reverse; Mendenhall gained only 2 yards up the middle; and on third down Batch was sacked by Terrell Suggs. Jeff Reed missed a 49-yard field goal and the Ravens held their 10-7 lead.

* Late in the third quarter, Taylor intercepted Joe Flacco's pass at the Baltimore 33. But Batch almost gave it right back to Suggs on a pass to Heath Miller. The Ravens jumped offside on third down, but on third-and-4, Batch took a shot deep to Wallace, who was blanketed by Lardarious Webb and the pass fell incomplete. Reed missed another field goal and the 10-7 score stood.

* The Steelers' best drive of the game resulted in Mendenhall's second touchdown run, and, with a 14-10 lead, they got the ball back at their own 3 with 2:40 remaining and the Ravens down to one timeout.

Mendenhall gained 2, but on the next play Chris Kemoeatu jumped and the Steelers were penalized those 2 yards. Mendenhall then gained 3 yards, but on the next play Matt Spaeth jumped and the Steelers were penalized those 3 yards. On third-and-10, with 2:00 left, Mendenhall carried again and was stopped for no gain. The Steelers punted and the Ravens scored a touchdown four plays later for the win.

It would be easy to put the goat's horns on Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden, who was beaten by T.J. Houshmandzadeh's double move for the touchdown, but the game could've been put away much earlier.

The immediate culprits were the flinchers on the offensive line, who couldn't wait in their own stadium.

"In hindsight," said Batch, "I would like to have those back and maybe not do a hard count and get the play run and try to run some time off the clock and not lose yardage in the process."

Batch said he used a hard count on both illegal procedure penalties, two of 11 penalties the Steelers committed for 88 yards. It was the most penalty-ridden game – number and yardage – for the Steelers since Nov. 16, 2008 against the San Diego Chargers (13-115). In their three previous games this season, the Steelers had committed a combined 11 penalties for 80 yards.

"That's Steelers beating Steelers," said coach Mike Tomlin. "We didn't play clean enough to earn a victory. That's just black and white."

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