The Steelers have scored 19 points in the first half, while the Ravens have been shut out after missing a 62-yard field goal attempt as time expired. But it could have been even worse for the home team, as Pittsburgh twice sabotaged themselves with penalties inside the red zone, ending up near the 30-yard line both times due to penalties.
That allowed them to get off to a 6-0 start, but they finished off the half with two touchdowns, one a one-yard run from Le’Veon Bell and then Ben Roethlisberger finding JuJu Smith-Schuster for his second touchdown of the of season. The defense forced and recovered a fumble that helped to set up one of those scores, while the other was aided by good field position from a short punt.
Terrell Watson’s kick return was short of the 20, and it took two carries from Bell to get there. Now on third and long, Roethlisberger threw short to Antonio Brown, who was tackled for no gain. The Ravens challenged the ruling on the field and the officials somehow determined that the ball was actually intercepted.
They took over at the 18-yard line, and Joe Flacco fired high and incomplete to Breshad Perriman on first down on what should have been a touchdown. Ryan Shazier cut Mike Wallace in half to force a drop over the middle on second down. Mike Hilton came on the blitz for a sack on third down, the defense quickly getting off the field and even backing them up, but Baltimore did get on the board with a field goal.
Blocks from Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, and Vance McDonald on first and second down of the Steelers’ ensuing possession picked up about 20 yards combined for a pair of Bell runs. Darrius Heyward-Bey got his first touch of the season on a jet sweep, getting about three yards. Bell was able to get to the edge for seven yards and the first down thereafter.
He was stopped for no gain on the draw on the next play. From the Ravens’ 46, Roethlisberger looked in Brown’s direction off play action into double coverage down the field, Eric Weddle breaking it up, but staying down after the play. On third down, he stepped up and hit Smith-Schuster making a grab in traffic for the first.
Down to the 29, Bell was lucky to gain about two. James Conner was chased down from behind looking to hit the left sideline. Now third and eight, Bell got the pitch out to the right, but was forced out of bounds after a short gain, the Steelers settling for a Chris Boswell field goal attempt from 44, which hooked to the left.
Alex Collins escaped for a big gain up the right sideline, another missed tackle from J.J. Wilcox, for 50 yards, down to the 16. Flacco looked for Wallace in the end zone on first down for an incompletion, but the two connected for the score one play later, and suddenly it’s a 19-11 game with more than 20 minutes to play after a successful two-point conversion, now a one-possession game.
The officials took a second look at the two-point conversion, attempting to determine if the runner was down before crossing the goal line, ultimately determining that the runner’s elbow was down, taking two points off the board, preserving the two-possession lead and making it 19-9.
After a touchback, Bell got the first-down carry for one yard. Roethlisberger threw across his body as he was hit on second down, Justin Hunter making the tough grab for a gain of six or so yards, but ZaDarius Smith was flagged for roughing the passer with a hit to the head, adding 15 yards to the play.
Now at the 45, Bell was again chased down behind the line on a wide run for a loss of three. After a false start on Chris Hubbard, the third and 18 play call was a pass to Jesse James for seven yards. Jordan Berry’s punt was waved off by the returner, bouncing out of bounds prior to reaching the 20. Bad punt, just 32 yards.
Cameron Heyward picked up a sack on first down, but the Ravens were able to rebound with passes to Benjamin Watson, back in after going through the concussion protocol, and Wallace. After a two-yard run from Collins, Flacco hit Wallace again for eight.
From the Steelers’ 49, T.J. Watt blew up Terrance West for a loss of three on the run blitz to end the third quarter. The second-down pass was dropped by the back over the middle. Now third and 13, Flacco was buried by Bud Dupree, the Steelers picking up their fourth sack of the game, and 15th of the year, on pace for 60 as a team for the season. Forcing a punt in the process. Ronnie Stanley, the Ravens’ only remaining starting lineman from a year ago, stayed down with a lower body injury. Sam Koch got off a 47-yard punt that died at about the 13.
Bell picked up two yards on first down, and got the check down for four on second. A quick third and four yielded a batted pass by Willie Henry at the line of scrimmage, his second pass defensed of the day. After the 35-yard net punt following a 13-yard return, the gain was negated by a hold, pushing the Ravens back.
Ronnie Stanley was back out on the field for the Ravens on the next possession. Flacco connected with Jeremy Maclin for I think the first connection of the day for 11. His pass under pressure to Wallace was wide, Heyward the one with the initial hurry, Tuitt with a hit.
On second down from the 33, Collins picked up maybe a yard. But on third down, it was Watson making the catch in traffic, Shazier nearly breaking it up, but the inside linebacker came up with the diving interception on the next play, the second takeaway for the defense of the game. L.T. Walton provided unblocked pressure to force an early throw.
Following the turnover, Bell was given the ball on the ground for two carries of a combined seven yards. On third and three, Roethlisberger from the 41 looked deep to Bryant, who beat his man, but the ball was overthrown. Roethlisberger has not been accurate on his deep passes this season, something that needs to turn around. The offense in the second half has been poor after a strong first half. Berry’s punt was downed at the 15 after 28 yards.
Buck Allen was given three yards up the middle on first down. Flacco connected with Nick Boyle under pressure for 13 to the 30. Artie Burns hit Wallace immediately after a five-yard throw. Allen picked up the first down on a seven-yard reception, nearly breaking a tackle into space. With Hilton blitzing, Flacco hit Watson for eight to midfield. Past the halfway mark of the fourth quarter, Flacco hit Allen quickly for four and a new set of downs.
Hilton’s pressure on another blitz forced an overthrow on an otherwise good-looking screen pass that fell incomplete. Collins was stuffed initially on the draw, but churned ahead for yardage. A hold negated the run anyway. On second and 19, a quick pass to Maclin made it third and 12, that pass contested by Hilton as Flacco scrambled under pressure. Going for it on fourth and 12, the pass was intercepted by Hilton. Shazier had the initial tip.
After the turnover, Bell followed his tight end off the left edge for seven yards. He was able to break open for a big gain of 21 with DeCastro and Roosevelt Nix leading off left end, putting him at 131 yards on the round for the day, 173 total.
From the 21, they stayed on the ground and he ripped a six-yard run right up the middle. On second and four, however, he was met with a wall of defenders, held for no gain. On third and four, they stayed on the ground and he got it, against with DeCastro and Nix leading the way.
With under three minutes to play and into the red zone, down to the 10 in fact for first and goal, Roethlisberger threw quickly to Brown because they got a free play, a Raven jumping offsides. Brown caught the slant and got to the one-yard line to set up second and goal at the one. It was Terrell Suggs jumping. From the one, three tight ends on the field, and a fullback, it was Bell to the right for his second rushing touchdown of the game.
Leading 26-9, Shazier has spent the past several players just laying big hits on Ravens as though it were target practice. Clean hits, I will add. The Ravens converted a third-and-four play to the 46, Flacco going deep incomplete to Breshad Perriman on the next play. Allen was able to find space between Hilton and Shazier for a first down, and then Flacco found Chris Matthews for another first down. With 52 second to go, at the 30, a quick pass to Boyle for six resulted in the Falcons using their final timeout. Wilcox tackled Allen out of bounds a couple yards shy. Dupree showed great burst on the ensuing rush, but was declared offsides. With 13 seconds to play, the Ravens had third and four from the five after a spike. The first pass fell incomplete, and the second pass was defended for a turnover on downs. One victory formation ended it.