Dixon’s OT Pick, Late Defensive Letdown Dooms Steelers in 20-17 Loss to Ravens

In the end, it was a game effort, but the Steelers simply could not find enough to overcome a critical overtime interception in falling to the Ravens in Baltimore 20-17. The team held a 17-14 lead and the Ravens had a fourth down with just over three minutes left, but Joe Flacco hit Ray Rice for a 44-yard gain to put the Ravens in field goal range.

The field goal was good, and the teams went to overtime tied at 17. The Steelers couldn’t get more than a first down after getting the ball first, and then they held on defense to force the Ravens to have to kick from their own 10. The Steelers got the ball at the their 45, but on third down Dennis Dixon looked for Santonio Holmes, and the pass was picked off by the Ravens Paul Kruger, who took it to the Steelers 28.

Four Ray Rice runs and a Joe Flacco basic kneel down later, Billy Cundiff was good from 29 yards out, sending the Steelers to their third straight loss to drop them to 6-5 on the season. Dixon, who was a surprise starter after the team decided to sit Ben Roethlisberger on Saturday, was 12-for-26 for 145 yards with a touchdown and a pick. He also ran for 27 yards, including a 24-yard score that put the team up 17-14 with 6:24 left.

The defense though could not shut the door, as again they blew a fourth quarter lead. The Ravens game-tying drive was 10 plays and 84 yards, and ended with the chip shot Cundiff field goal from 24 yards out to tie the game. The Steelers tried to throw on their final regulation drive, but went three-and-out as Dixon was not able to complete a pass.

The team was able to put up 298 yards of offense, and while the defense was able to get two turnovers on fumbles and five sacks, they also gave up too many big plays, including the 44-yard play to Ray Rice with the Ravens down to one timeout with 3:31 left on their own 46 with a 4th-and-5. Overall Baltimore had 393 yards of offense.

Rashard Mendenhall ran for 95 yards on 24 carries, and Holmes had a score and 6 catches for 74 yards. Hines Ward had three grabs for 47 yards. The game could have been theirs, but again, the defense cannot hold a lead in the fourth quarter, a difference between a championship season of a year ago and a season now that seems to be lost.

The Steelers should be able to finally get back on track as they welcome the 3-8 Oakland Raiders on Sunday at 1pm at Heniz Field.

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