In a performance that must have seemed like a dream to many of their fans, the Pittsburgh Steelers walked into M&T Bank Stadium Sunday afternoon and dominated the Baltimore Ravens in a 26-9 victory.
For starters, the defense returned to its sound ways against the run. After allowing 220 yards on the run in an overtime loss to the Bears in Week 3, Pittsburgh limited Baltimore to 82 yards on the ground. Also, the pass-rush applied pressure to Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco all afternoon and recorded four sacks–including two by defensive end Cameron Heyward and one by slot corner Mike Hilton.
As for the offense, while there is still work to be done, running back Le’Veon Bell seemed to shake off whatever rust was left on his body, by rushing for 144 yards on 35 carries and scoring two touchdowns. Bell also added 42 yards on four receptions.
- After forcing the Ravens to punt on their first possession, Pittsburgh’s offense had to start with its back to the wall after punter Sam Koch pinned it down at the three-yard line.
However, the Steelers put together their most impressive drive of the season, by marching 84 yards on 16 plays and eating up 10:23 of game time. Unfortunately, after reaching the 12-yard line, penalties reared their ugly head, as right tackle Chris Hubbard was called for a false start, guard David DeCastro was called for holding, and the team had to settle for a Chris Boswell 30-yard field goal.
- Mid-way through the second quarter, the Steelers extended their lead on another Boswell field goal–this time from 49 yards away–and went ahead 6-0.
On Baltimore’s subsequent possession, Heyward stripped running back Alex Collins of the football and cleaned things up rather nicely by falling on the fumble at the Baltimore 28.
- The Steelers took advantage on a six-play drive that ended with a one-yard score by Bell to make it 13-0, visitors.
Following another three-and-out by the Ravens, Pittsburgh seized total control of the game with an eight-play, 70-yard drive that ended when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger found rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster for an 11-yard touchdown pass to go ahead 19-0 with 45 seconds left in the first half. The Steelers decided to go for two, but came up short, when Roethlisberger couldn’t connect with receiver Antonio Brown.
The Steelers received the ball to start the second half and immediately gave Baltimore life, thanks to a controversial interception at the 20 yard-line by safety Eric Weddle. On a third down pass to Brown, the receiver appeared to be down by contact after making a short catch. However, as he hit the ground, the ball popped right into Weddle’s hands. Since the whistle blew, the play was blown dead. However, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh challenged that Brown never had full possession when he was taken to the ground, which would have made Weddle’s pick possible. After a brief review, the call on the field was reversed, and Baltimore got its first break of the day.
- However, the Steelers defense held firm, and Baltimore lost six yards on three plays and had to settle for a Justin Tucker 42-yard field goal.
The Steelers answered with another impressive drive and marched 53 yards on 11 plays. But a 44-yard field goal by Boswell sailed wide-left, and the Ravens took possession at their 34.
On Baltimore’s first play of the next drive, Collins gashed the Steelers defense with a 50-yard run down to the 16. Two plays later, Flacco connected with former Steelers receiver Mike Wallace on a 16-yard touchdown pass, and Pittsburgh’s lead was cut to 10. The Ravens went for two to make it a one-score game, but a run by Terrence West came up short, and the score was 19-9.
The Steelers defense was simply impressive the rest of the way, limiting Baltimore to a punt and two interceptions–including one by inside linebacker Ryan Shazier and one by Hilton–on its next three offensive possessions to effectively ice the game.
Following Hilton’s pick late in the fourth quarter, the Steelers put the finishing touches on the victory by marching 49 yards on a seven-play drive that ended with a one-yard score for Bell to make it 26-9.
- For the day, Roethlisberger completed 18 of 30 passes for 216 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Smith-Schuster ended his day with four receptions for 2 yards and the score, while Brown was held to just 34 yards on four receptions.
Next up for the Steelers is a Week 5 match-up against the Jaguars next Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.