The Baltimore Ravens special teams unit has been just that, "special" all year and when Jacoby Jones returned a first quarter punt return 63 yards for the only touchdown Baltimore would score, the Ravens defense held Byron Leftwich and the Pittsburgh Steelers at bay for a 13-10 road victory and a two game lead in the AFC North.
Ravens' fans, especially those with acid reflux, were given heartburn right off the bat, when Leftwich threw deep on the first play of the game to Mike Wallace, and Ravens CB Cary Williams was called for pass interference, a 42 yard penalty, shortly thereafter Leftwich scrambled 31 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Steelers lead.
Baltimore's offense proceeded to go three and out very quickly on the ensuing drive and Pittsburgh had the ball with a chance to take a two possession lead, but recently signed CB Chris Johnson forced a Mike Wallace fumble that Ed Reed returned to the Steelers 14 and the momentum had completely swung in the Ravens favor, and although Baltimore could only muster a field goal, that play seemed to bring the Steelers back to reality…..if not, Jacoby Jones provided the reality check when he notched his third return for a touchdown this season, on the 63 yarder two Steelers' possessions later.
Both defenses played outstanding last night, as Pittsburgh's defense did not allow an offensive touchdown, and Baltimore sacked Leftwich three times, intercepted him once and had him battered and bruised once the game was over as they knocked him down several times. Also, Baltimore only allowed Pittsburgh in the red zone once, and held them to a field goal after holding the Steelers on the Ravens four yard line, that was the ninth consecutive red zone drive that the Ravens have kept their opponent out of the end zone.
Pittsburgh shutdown Baltimore's offense all night holding Joe Flacco to 164 yards completing 20 of 32 pass attempts with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Ray Rice was held to just 40 yards rushing on 20 carries, but Anquan Boldin did reel in eight catches for 79 yards. Rookie kicker Justin Tucker went 2-3 on field goal attempts, as he did miss a 41 yarder in the game. TE Dennis Pitta left the game early after suffering a concussion, so that is something the Ravens will keep an eye on as the week progresses for their upcoming matchup against the San Diego Chargers.
The victory was the third straight and improves the Ravens to 8-2 and now have a two game lead in the AFC North and currently hold the second seed in the AFC with six games to go. Pittsburgh drops to 6-4, and the loss snapped their four game winning streak. Baltimore will now hit the road in week 12 to take on the Chargers in San Diego, before returning home to take on the Steelers again in week 13.
Check back tomorrow as we will dive deeper into the offense's struggles and defense's success in last night's game.
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