Ravens hold on to edge Steelers
BALTIMORE - Another close game in the spirited rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens came down to a wacky final two minutes that featured a pair of overturned touchdowns, a couple injuries and finally, a missed 2-point conversion.
Justin Tucker kicked five field goals, and Baltimore snuffed a conversion pass with 1:03 left to escape with a 22-20 victory Thursday night.
After Pittsburgh scored on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Jerricho Cotchery to get within two points, Roethlisberger's conversion pass slipped through the hands of Emmanuel Sanders, who was screened by Chykie Brown.
The victory provided the Ravens (6-6) with their first winning streak since September and pushed them ahead of the Steelers (5-7) and four other teams in the race for the final wild-card slot in the AFC. It also avenged a 19-16 loss to their division rivals last month.
It was the fifth straight game between the teams decided by three points or fewer.
Pittsburgh appeared to score twice in the closing minutes, but on each occasion the touchdown was overturned by a replay. On the first one, tight end Heath Miller was ruled down inside the 1. On the second, running back Le'Veon Bell lost his helmet on a crushing tackle by Jimmy Smith and the ball was ruled dead just short of the goal line.
The game was delayed while Bell and Smith lay on the ground. Two plays later, Roethlisberger connected with a wide-open Cotchery on fourth down.
Tucker connected on kicks of 43, 34, 38, 45 and 48 yards after Joe Flacco threw a first-quarter touchdown pass to Torrey Smith.
Flacco went 24 for 35 for 251 yards. Roethlisberger was 28 for 44 for 257 yards and two TDs.
Baltimore didn't get a sack and didn't force a turnover, but played well enough to bottle up Roethlisberger and the Steelers for the majority of the game.
Down 19-7, the Steelers mounted a 60-yard drive aided by two penalties and got a 1-yard touchdown run by Bell to close to 19-14 with 9:32 to go. It was only the second rushing TD allowed by the Ravens this season.
Tucker answered with a field goal, but Roethlisberger mounted a 79-yard drive to set the stage for the hectic finish.
The Ravens opened the second half with a 52-yard drive that ended in a field goal for a 13-0 lead. Smith caught two passes on third down to keep the drive alive.
Pittsburgh answered with an 80-yard march that began with a 21-yard completion from Roethlisberger to Miller, and included a 43-yard run by Bell to the Baltimore 8. On third down, Sanders got free in the end zone for an 8-yard score - only the fourth touchdown allowed by the Ravens in six home games.
Jacoby Jones took the ensuing kickoff 73 yards to the Pittsburgh 27, setting up a 38-yard field goal that made it 16-7. Jones sprinted down the left side and nearly ran into Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who stepped out of the way at the last second.
After a Pittsburgh punt, Flacco escaped pressure to complete a 34-yard pass to Jones, and Tucker followed with a 45-yarder to put the Ravens up by 12 with 13:59 remaining.
That would be Baltimore's final score, and it proved to be just enough for a much-needed victory.
Baltimore limited the Steelers to 98 yards and got a touchdown pass from Flacco in taking a 10-0 halftime lead.
The game couldn't have started much better for the Ravens. After holding Pittsburgh to a three-and-out, Baltimore moved 71 yards to take a 7-0 lead on a 7-yard touchdown pass to Smith. The play came after Smith hauled in a 54-yard pass from Flacco to the Pittsburgh 1.
There were three scuffles after the whistle in the first quarter, but peace was restored before things got out of hand.
Pittsburgh's third drive ended with a curious, aborted field-goal try. Shaun Suisham was poised to kick a 50-yarder, but his approach began well before the snap and he didn't follow through. Holder Mat McBriar flipped an impromptu lateral to Suisham, who was tackled for a 12-yard loss.
The Ravens then took advantage of a 26-yard pass interference call against Ike Taylor to go up 10-0 on a 43-yard field goal.