The Pittsburgh Steelers are at home for the second time this year, but for the first time with Michael Vick under center, who has had a short week to prepare for his first start in the black and gold after being with the team for about a month.
Vick is clearly the main storyline on either side of the ball with Ben Roethlisberger out. Expect the Steelers to rely on their playmakers, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, who can make catches on bad throws.
Both the Steelers and Baltimore Ravens are dealing with injuries. In addition to Roethlisberger being out, starting inside linebacker Ryan Shazier is out, as are nose tackle Daniel McCullers, cornerback Cortez Allen, and tight end Matt Spaeth.
For the Ravens, they will be down four starters, including three on offense with left tackle Eugene Monroe, tight end Crockett Gillmore, and rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman, who has yet to play this year. On defense, defensive tackle Chris Canty is out.
Inactive for the Steelers, in addition to the above mentioned, are rookies tight end Jesse James and linebacker Anthony Chickillo, who was just called up from the practice squad.
Inactive for the Ravens, in addition to the above mentioned, are defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi, cornerback Tray Walker, and cornerback Rashaan Melvin.
The Ravens won the coin toss and deferred to halftime. Dri Archer caught the kickoff for a touchback. On first down, Vick overthrew Heath Miller on a short pass, and he took a hit after the throw. After a false start on David DeCastro, Bell was knocked back for a two-yard loss running up the right side to set up third and 16. Bell took the dumpoff pass for nine yards, forcing Jordan Berry to come on to punt for just 37 yards.
Joe Flacco‘s first pass was broken up by Will Allen. Antwon Blake put a hit on the receiver to force him to lose the ball to set up third and 10. Stephon Tuitt recorded his third and a half sack to get the defense off the field. Brown returned the punt out past the 20-yard line.
From the 21, Bell was able to bounce a run out to the perimeter around the left side to pick up seven yards. DeAngelo Williams got the tote on second down, showing patience to pick up eight yards off right guard for a first down, the first of the game. From the 36, Bell bounced off a hit for a first-down run for 11 yards.
Near midfield now, Vick connected with Markus Wheaton for an 18-yard pickup to get down to the Ravens’ 35-yard line. Back to the ground, Bell was bottled up after picking up about three yards. With both backs on the field, Bell motioned from right to left. Vick rolled lefft to hit Bell, but for just a short gain. Vick scrambled on third down for three yards to set up Josh Scobee for a 45-yard field goal that squeezed inside the right upright to make it 3-0.
Scobee’s kickoff was a bit of a line drive caught with momentum as the Ravens returned the ball to about the 25-yard line. The Steelers have yet to allow an opponent to start beyond that this season.
On first down, the defensive front was able to make the stop on the ground at the line of scrimmage. Lawrence Timmons recorded his first tackle on a two-yard carry to set up third and long. Timmons was unable to get Steve Smith down as he completed the third-down reception to move the chains. From the 38, Will Allen nearly picked off another pass, but the throw was complete to his tight end, Maxx Williams.
Justin Forsett slipped through a hole for 11 yards to cross midfield, duplicating the performance on the following play into field goal range. From the 30, Smith picked up about five yards on a screen pass. Lorenzo Taliaferro was just short of the first down on the following play. On third and short, the back easily moved the chains inside the 20.
The Ravens running game continued to churn out yards as Forsett gained six on first down. On second down, L.T. Walton made the tackle at the line of scrimmage, but the Ravens were flagged for an illegal shift, making it second and nine. A screen pass picked up seven yards, so they face third and two instead of third and four. On the play, Arthur Moats missed the tackle on Michael Campanaro, who ran it in on an end around for a touchdown.
Another touchback for Archer started the Steelers’ third drive on offense. Brown caught a screen pass who reversed field before being dropped down for a loss of five yards. On second and 15, Vick dumped it off to Bell for another loss. Now third and long, Brown tried to make something happen after picking up six yards, taking a hard hit from the safety. Berry’s second punt was as bad as the first, going just 37 yards.
Sensing the need to rally, the defense swarmed on first down to drop the back for a short loss on first down. On the following play, Tuitt twisted Forsett down after about a five-yard gain. On third down, Vince Williams was unable to bring down Maxx Williams before stretching out for first-down yardage.
Flacco was forced to scramble with nothing open on the following play, with Timmons knocking him out of bounds unceremoniously. On second and 10, however, he completed another pass for 14 yards inside the 35-yard line. Flacco fumbled the snap on the following play, but recovered. Taliaferro picked up about five yards before being brought down. On third and six, Ross Cockrell intercepted the pass and returned it 37 yards to the Ravens’ 36-yard line.
Vick went deep on first down, looking to hit Brown in the left corner. He had a chance at it, but he was going to the ground, and it would have been a nice play. The ball was there. Bell picked up about five yards on second and 10. Vick didn’t see the blitzer coming on third down, taking a sack and knocking the Steelers out of field goal range. Berry’s third field goal was fair caught at the nine-yard line.
Forsett picked up about three yards on first down after the punt, but was bottled up on second down. On third and long, Flacco fired off quickly under pressure, with Timmons smothering the underneath throw to force the Ravens to punt from deep in their own end. Brown fair caught the 52-yard punt at the 33-yard line.
Vick kept the ball on first down with Wheaton on the edge, rushing for about 10 yards. Sammie Coates received his first target, and caught his first reception, of his career for a first down on the following play. Across midfield now at the 46, Bell managed to gain nine yards up the middle, weaving through traffic and powering the last couple of yards. He converted the first down on the following play.
From the 35, Bell found space for about four yards on first down leading into the two-minute warning. On second down, Vick scrambled for five yards, but an illegal hands to the face penalty added on the end of the run gave the Steelers a first down at the 22. Vick hit Darrius Heyward-Bey for a first down on the following play. From the 11, Bell cut back for a touchdown, with Vick throwing a block. Scobee’s extra point gave the Steelers a 10-7 lead with 1:37 to play in the first half.
Sean Spence came in on the blitz off the left side to sack Flacco to start off the drive after a touchback. On second and 16, Forsett got overturned after a short gain to set up third and long, with Pittsburgh using its first timeout in hopes of getting the ball back again before halftime. Flacco’s third-down pass was errant, and the offense granted another opportunity. Brown was tackled around the neck on the return, drawing an unnecessary roughness to bring the ball out to the Ravens’ 45-yard line.
On first down, Vick tucked it and scrambled for around five yards. Brown converted over the middle of the field, after which the Steelers called their second timeout with 26 seconds remaining. Vick and Brown played pitch and catch out of bounds for 16 yards to the 17. Bell was smothered on an inside screen for a short loss as the offense settled for a field goal attempt. Scobee’s kick just cut inside the left upright and good to give the Steelers a 13-7 lead. The attempt was deflected but good, but he was offsides anyway, and the penalty was declined.