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(Sunday, December 27th)
Final Score: Pittsburgh 23, Baltimore 20
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Ben Roethlisberger threw a touchdown pass and Rashard Mendenhall ran for a score as the Pittsburgh Steelers downed the Baltimore Ravens, 23-20, in an AFC North battle with major postseason implications.
Baltimore (8-7) and Pittsburgh (8-7) are still alive for a wild card berth in the playoffs, but neither team will win the AFC North as Cincinnati's 17-10 victory over Kansas City gave the Bengals the crown. The Ravens, however, need only a win next week at Oakland to claim a wild card spot, while the Steelers need a win at Miami and some help to reach the postseason.
"I told our team, this is our bed, but I like how we're laying in it," said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. "We still have a pulse here and we'll still control the things that we can control."
Roethlisberger went 17-of-33 for 259 yards and a pick while Mendenhall finished the game with 36 yards on 17 carries for the Steelers, who have won two straight after dropping their previous five. Santonio Holmes had five catches for 86 yards and a score while Jeff Reed went 3-for-3 on field goal attempts.
Joe Flacco was 13-for-25 with 166 yards, two scores and an interception while Todd Heap made his only two catches count for touchdowns for the Ravens, who had won three of four coming into the game. Ray Rice had 141 yards on 30 carries in the loss.
"It was a disappointing loss, but I thought it was a hard fought game and that our team played well," said Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh. "We're going to play our hearts out every week. You go out there and fight and battle. We're competing like crazy to get a win out there, but you make plays, they make plays. We fight our hearts out, but we came up a little short today."
Trailing by 10 points to start the third, the Ravens went on a 10-play, 64- yard drive to start the half and made it a 20-17 game as Heap made a leaping, seven-yard TD catch in the right corner of the end zone.
On the first play of Pittsburgh's ensuing touch, Roethlisberger was picked off by Domonique Foxworth, who took it back into the end zone, but an illegal block call negated the score and Baltimore had the ball at the Pittsburgh 37.
Baltimore was unable to get into the end zone, but it did get into field goal range and a 35-yarder from Billy Cundiff made it a 20-20 game with 6:16 left in the third.
The Ravens again held the Steelers to a three-and-out and got themselves into scoring position, but a rash of penalties saw the team come away with nothing. On 2nd-and-10 at the Pitt 32, Willis McGahee took the ball around the left end and into the end zone, but a holding call brought the play back. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Derrick Mason found himself wide open in the right corner of the end zone, but the ball hit off his facemask and fell incomplete. An illegal formation call followed by a personal foul call on Oniel Cousins pushed the team out of field goal range and they had to punt away.
"When you're in the middle of a drive you don't think about missed opportunities," said Flacco. "But, on the other hand, we definitely hurt ourselves out there today."
The teams then exchanged punts, with Pittsburgh getting the ball back at its own 36 with just over nine minutes to play thanks to a 17-yard punt return from Stefan Logan.
Passes of 14 yards and 19 yards to Tyler Grisham and Holmes, respectively, got the ball down to the Baltimore 19. However, Pittsburgh went back one yard over the following three plays and a 38-yard field goal from Reed made it a 23-20 game with 5:25 to play.
Baltimore got one first down on its next series, but facing a 4th-and-10, Flacco fumbled the ball as he was sacked by LaMarr Woodley and Pittsburgh recovered at its own 42.
From there, the Steelers were able to kill the rest of the clock and hang on for the win.
The Steelers got the first points of the game off a turnover as Flacco was hit as he was throwing the ball and James Farrior picked off the floater and took it to the Baltimore eight-yard line. The Ravens defense, though, held the Steelers to no yards and a 26-yard field goal by Reed made it a 3-0 game with 9:21 left in the first.
Baltimore responded with a nine-play drive that covered 64 yards and was capped on a Cundiff 27-yard field goal to tie the game with 5:18 to play in the first.
Pittsburgh got another field goal off the foot of Reed, this one a 39-yarder that stayed just inside the right upright for a 6-3 lead with 1:09 left in the first.
After holding Baltimore to a three-and-out, Pittsburgh padded its lead as Mendenhall took a handoff up the middle and into the end zone from four yards out for a 13-3 advantage with 12:52 to play in the first half.
The Ravens, though, struck back on their next drive to make it a 13-10 game. On 2nd-and-10 at the Pittsburgh 30, Flacco heaved the ball down the left sideline where Heap came up with the catch in front of the defender and stretched it into the end zone.
At the two-minute warning, Pittsburgh had the ball at its own six, but got out of trouble as Roethlisberger hooked up with Mike Wallace on a 45-yard play down the right sideline. Several plays later, Roethlisberger dumped the ball to the right flat where Holmes caught it, made a defender miss and stretched into the end zone on a 24-yard score and a 20-10 lead going into the break.
Mendenhall went over 1,000 rushing yards on the season in the game...Roethlisberger went over 4,000 passing yards on the season, the first Steeler to accomplish that feat...Mason had seven catches for 77 yards...The Steelers have won seven of their past eight home games against the Ravens.
12/27 18:12:37 ET
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