Ravens Steal One, 23-20

Defensive display no consolation to Steelers as they lose to rivals in overtime.

PITTSBURGH -- Michael Vick couldn't complete a pass when needed, Josh Scobee couldn't make a kick when needed and the coaching staff couldn't make the right call when needed.

It seemed like it anyway.

And it seemed like the defense couldn't do anything wrong, particularly down the stretch of the Steelers' gut-wrenching 23-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field.

Not that the defense agreed.

"No, no," said Cameron Heyward. "So many big stops, but we needed one more."

The Steelers defense did let the Ravens back in the game early in the third quarter. After a Vick touchdown pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Ravens drove 80 yards for a touchdown in six plays to breathe life back into their season.

But at 20-14, the Steelers defense dug in.

To wit:

* After an awful Steelers offensive series, a poor punt and a 14-yard return with a penalty tacked on, the Ravens were looking to take the lead in Steelers territory. But the defense forced the field-goal unit onto the field, and Sean Spence stuffed a fake field goal for a three-yard loss.

* With a 20-17 lead, the Ravens went for it on fourth-and-1 at the Pittsburgh 43. Joe Flacco's quarterback sneak was stuffed by Vince Williams and Stephon Tuitt while the unit was in its nickel alignment.

* After a Scobee miss, the blitz-happy defense stopped the Ravens just before the two-minute warning with a coverage sack by James Harrison.

* After a second Scobee miss, the defense couldn't stop the Ravens' tying field goal, although it did keep Flacco out of the end zone. That hasn't always been the case in the final seconds at Heinz Field.

* In overtime, after an ill-conceived Vick fourth-down rush attempt, the defense forced a three-and-punt after safety Mike Mitchell went over the top of Kamar Aiken to break up what looked to be a conversion.

The Ravens punted and Antonio Brown returned it 29 yards. Brown then caught a pass for 17 yards, but again the offense stalled and this time eschewed a 50-yard field goal for a failed Vick pass on fourth-and-1.

Vick would later call that incompletion “one (that) is going to haunt me for a long time.”

It was the last straw for a Steelers defense that couldn't hold on any longer. The Steelers allowed a pair of first downs, and held on third-and-1 thanks to Heyward, but the Ravens kicked a 52-yarder for the winner.

"The only thing that would make it hurt worse is if it was a playoff game," said Harrison.

Was there any consolation that the defense – the alleged weakest unit on the team coming into the season – played so well for so long on this Thursday night?

"Mmmmm," said Lawrence Timmons. "We want to win. Style points don't get us anywhere."

Maybe just one more style point would've gotten the Steelers to 3-1 and a bit of a cushion with Ben Roethlisberger looking at another month of recovery.

Instead, they are 2-2 and need Vick to sharpen his game to remain competitive in the AFC North.

"We want this to be a good situation when he comes back," said Heyward. "So we've got to start next week with San Diego. Move on. Watch this tomorrow and study what we did wrong today."

"In competitive rivalries, crazy things happen," said Mitchell. "We were one stop short. We needed one more there at the end of the game, but hats off to Baltimore. They got us."


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