Blown Opportunity: Steelers Fail in Final Minute in 23-20 Loss to Ravens

Ben Roethlisberger drops back to pass against Terrell Sugg

You knew it would come down to the wire. The Steelers and Ravens usually do, and just like last year in week four, Joe Flacco and the Birds had the last laugh.

With the Steelers up four with :23 seconds to play and the Ravens at the Steelers 26-yard line, Flacco heaved a ball toward the end zone to rookie Torry Smith, and Willie Gay and Ryan Clark couldn’t make the play, and just like that – the Ravens walk out of Heinz Field with a 23-20 win.

It’s the type of loss that simply deflates you. The Steelers rallied from a 16-6 fourth quarter deficit to score two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take a 20-16 lead. They had the ball at the Ravens 34 with 2:24 left, and instead of going for a field goal that would have made it 23-16, they took a delay and punted to the 8-yard line.

That’s all that Flacco, who did it last year in week four, needed. He and the Ravens went 92 yards in 12 plays in 2:09 for the win. Flacco ended the night 28-for-47 for 300 yards with a touchdown.

The defense, playing without starting LB’s LaMarr Woodley and James Farrior, let the Ravens dominate the game from a third-down standpoint, as they went 14-for-21 on third downs, including a couple in the final drive that would have won the game.

With the win, Baltimore sweeps the season series for the first time since 2006, and they are now 6-2, tied with the Bengals for first in the AFC North. The Steelers drop to 6-3, and next week they have a golden shot to get right back in the race as they head to Cincy to play the Bengals and their rookie QB Andy Dalton for the first time this season.

The first half was nothing but field goals, and a questionable call by some awful officials gave the Ravens a 9-6 halftime lead. The Steelers also didn’t get a call they should have when Ray Lewis went helmet-to-helmet on Hines Ward, knocking him out of the game and the refs simply overlooked it.

Then later with the half nearing its end, the ref called a 15-yard personal foul on Clark for a hit that was just a weak call. The penalty set up a Billy Cundiff 51-yard field goal to make it a 3-point game at the half.

The Ravens went up 16-6 in the third quarter on a short Ray Rice run, but the Steelers quickly turned it back around. They went downfield quickly for a 12-play, 71-yard drive that ended with a Rashard Mendenhall 1-yard run to make it 16-13.

The following Ravens drive ended with James Harrison making a hit on Flacco, knocking the ball loose and it was recovered by Gay. Ben Roethlisberger went down the field and hit Mike Wallace with a 25-yard TD with 4:59 left to make it 20-16.

It looked like it could have clearly ended that way with the Ravens going 3-and-out on the next drive, but the Steelers couldn’t convert and ended up punting with 2:24 left, allowing enough time for the Ravens to engineer a game-winning TD drive.

Baltimore was outgained by the Black and Gold 392 to 356, but the time of possession was dominated by the Ravens, 37:55 to 22:05.

It’s a wasted opportunity, and now all the Steelers can do is quickly forget about it, and get ready for a Bengals team that appears for real at 6-2 and a team that wants nothing more than to knock off the Steelers next Sunday.

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