The Pittsburgh Steelers trail the Baltimore Ravens heading into the second half, having scored three times to two, but all of the home team’s scoring drives have ended on the boot of Shaun Suisham, who tied a career-best in the postseason with three field goals, all over 40 yards. The Ravens got a rushing touchdown from Bernard Pierce and added a Justin Tucker field goal to go up 10-9.
The Ravens begin the second half with the ball after the Steelers opened the game with possession. Baltimore has been able to get pressure on Ben Roethlisberger so far, and has largely been the difference in this game.
Jacoby Jones continued to take the ball out from eight and nine yards deep, and the coverage once again burned him. The Ravens start the half from their own 16. Joe Flacco was incomplete over the middle on first down. On second and 10, Flacco tripped again as he handed off to Justin Forsett, who was buried for a loss of four. On third and 14, Torrey Smith got past Antwon Blake for a first down. Troy Polamalu cut down the fullback after a gain of seven. On second and three, Daniel McCullers and others contributed to stopping Forsett to set up a third and short. Flacco went deep, and Blake was flagged for pass interference, placing the ball near the Steelers’ 30.
The Steelers finally got to Flacco, who fumbled and lost 13 yards. After a three yard gain, the Ravens faced a third and 20. From the 41, Steve Smith cut across the middle for 15 yards well into field goal range, and Baltimore was able to jump back up by four with the score 13-9.
Dri Archer split wide and picked up two yards on first down from the 20. Josh Harris found some room up the middle on second down to move the chains. Ben Tate now in, picked up a couple on the following play. Roethlisberger went deep to Martavis Bryant, but the defensive back got his feet tangled up without drawing a flag. On third and seven, Roethlisberger was wide to Heath Miller as the Steelers were forced to punt. Brad Wing only got the ball a little bit past the 30-yard line.
Steve Smith went over the top of Brice McCain on the first play for 40 yards. Smith picked up another five on the next play. The fullback got the first down inside the red zone. Flacco slid for five yards. Forsett was tackled in the backfield to set up a third down. On third and seven, Flacco escaped pressure and found Smith for the touchdown to go up 20-9.
Roethlisberger got the comeback drive started with a quick pass to Wheaton for 11 yards. Harris on the next play went up the middle for about three. Roethlisberger checked down to Harris for six yards. On third and one, Roethlisberger kept it himself but came up short on the no huddle run. On fourth and inches, Will Johnson lowered his head to convert.
Harris went down after a two-yard gain on the following play. Off play action, Roethlisberger was off target down the field to set up a third and eight. He got smothered off the edge on both sides to end the third quarter.
Forsett looked like he was bottled up early, but he kept fighting for seven yards. Steve Smith was good for a reception across the 40. This time the Steelerss got Forsett down. On second and long, Brice McCain nearly picked up an overthrown ball, but wasn’t able to hold on. The Steelers held the Ravens to within inches of the first. On fourth and inches, the Ravens easily converted on a quarterback sneak.
One play after converting, however, Forsett put the ball on the ground and Stephon Tuitt recovered for the Steelers. Perhaps just the turning point the struggling offense needs. Right off the bat, on the first play, Roethlisberger let one loose to Brown. The ball hung up short of the end zone, but Brown came down with it and fought into the end zone, but was down at the half-yard line. David DeCastro was flagged for a false start to make it first and goal at the six. Roethlisberger threw the ball over Webb to Bryant for the touchdown. Roethlisberger, however, was unable to convert the two-point play.
Shamarko Thomas was flagged for unnecessary roughness on the return, giving the Ravens the ball at the 36. After a throwaway on first down, Forsett was taken down in the backfield by Vince Williams. On third and 13, Daniels converted over the middle for 23 yards across midfield, running away from Mike Mitchell.
Incomplete on first down, the Ravens were spotted a yard short on second down. On third and one, after a timeout, Flacco just barely found Torrey Smith out of bounds out of the back of the end zone. Tucker put the Ravens up by eight with under nine minutes to play.
From the 20, Harris started off the drive with a run up the middle of about six yards. On second and four, Roethlisberger threw a poor pass to Miller for an incompletion. On third down, Roethlisberger was immediately under pressure and attempted to dump it off to Tate, but it was off the back’s hands and intercepted by Terrell Suggs between his legs, which certainly at the moment seems like a death knell for the season.
From the 21, Flacco found Crockett Gilmore immediately over the middle for the score as the Ravens go up by 15.
From the 20 once again, Roethlisberger found Brown crossing the field for four yards, but Brown was flagged for a facemask, resulting in a 12-yard half the distance to the goal penalty. On first and 18, Miller couldn’t get back to the original line of scrimmage as Marcus Gilbert stayed down. Mike Adams replaced him on second and long. Brown got to the 25. On third and five, Wheaton got to the 40-yard line.
Roethlisberger gunned one over the middle for 19 yards to Brown. With about six minutes to play, Roethlisberger scrambled for a first down behind a Bryant block. From the 25, he found Archer for about six. Under five minutes, an Archer touchdown was negated by a hold on Kelvin Beachum. Roethlisberger was sacked on second and 14 and stayed down injured, hitting his head on the ground. He will go through the concussion protocol to end the season as Bruce Gradkowski comes in. On third and 21, with five wide, Miller picked up about 18 yards. He too took a head shot and left the field to take the concussion protocol. On fourth and three, Brown converted.
Gradkowski nearly found Bryant in the end zone, but two defenders helped separate the receiver from the ball. Roethlisberger re-entered the game with three minutes to play. He looked to Brown in the end zone, but was intercepted by the safety. The Steelers quickly made three run stops to get the ball back at the two-minute warning, but it’s too little, too late. Thomas blocked the punt as he bounced out of the end zone for a safety.
The Ravens free kicked from the 20-yard line after the safety, with Brown back to return it. He did so just past the 30. One timeout, 1:50 remaining.
Bryant was flagged for offensive pass interference on first down. From the 21 now, Wheaton took a huge shot after a reception. Under pressure, Roethlisberger couldn’t get the ball to Archer. On third down, Haloti Ngata beat the right guard for pressure and batted the ball. Now fourth down, Miller converted, but fumbled, and the Ravens recovered, officially ending the Steelers’ 2014 season after one home playoff loss. Pittsburgh has now lost its last three playoff games.