De­fense car­ries Ravens to win over Steel­ers

Team en­ters first place in AFC North

Cecil Whig - - ACCENT - By SEAN GRO­GAN

sgro­gan@ce­cil­whig.com

— It had been 41 days since the Baltimore Ravens last won.

They snapped a four-game los­ing streak in a des­per­ately- needed way Sun­day, top­ping the archri­val Pittsburgh Steel­ers 21-14.

The 71,286 fans in at­ten­dance at M&T Bank Sta­dium saw the Ravens take sole pos­ses­sion of first place in the AFC North.

“We haven’t won since, what, Septem­ber?” line­backer Ter­rell Suggs said. “It’s good to fi­nally, fi­nally get one and get back in the win col­umn, es­pe­cially against our divi­sion ri­val. It’s good to win. We’ve still got a tremen­dous amount of work to do … We’ll take the win, but we ain’t sat­is­fied.”

Baltimore’s de­fense ut­terly sti­fled the Steel­ers for the game’s

BALTIMORE

first three quar­ters. Pittsburgh did not cross mid­field un­til the fourth quar­ter. Its of­fense had just two first downs – one from a Ravens’ de­fen­sive penalty – and had recorded 69 yards of to­tal of­fense en­ter­ing the fi­nal pe­riod. The Steel­ers did not find the score­board un­til 8: 38 re­mained in the game.

“The big­gest thing is that we stopped the run­ning game,” de­fen­sive tackle Bran­don Williams said. “Le’Veon Bell didn’t get off. I think at the half they had 16 yards rush­ing and then we kept the pres­sure on. We were be­ing pa­tient de­fen­sively, mak­ing sure we were keep­ing our gaps, ex­e­cut­ing our plays and mak­ing sure we were get­ting three-and-outs.”

The Ravens’ de­fense held star run­ning Le’Veon Bell back to just 32 yards rush­ing. An­to­nio Brown, one of the NFL’s top wide re­ceivers, caught just seven passes for 85 yards, though five re­cep­tions and 76 yards came in the fi­nal quar­ter.

Head coach John Har­baugh ap­plauded rookie cor­ner­back Tavon Young and the vet­eran Jimmy Smith.

“Tavon got one of the game balls in the locker room. Jimmy – I guess he didn’t get a game ball be­cause we ex­pect it out of him,” Har­baugh said. “Those cor­ners played re­ally, re­ally well. They played solid, fun­da­men­tally, on-top, square, eyes-on-their­lug­gage foot­ball. They played their zone cov­er­ages and man cov­er­ages equally well.

“They did a great job against that team. The abil­ity to make those plays with the weapons they have, I think, speaks vol­umes.”

The Ravens struck first with just over a minute left in the open­ing quar­ter on the long­est reg­u­lar-sea­son play from scrim­mage in the fran­chise’s his­tory. Quar­ter­back Joe Flacco threw a slant to wide re­ceiver Mike Wal­lace over the mid­dle, who turned the short com­ple­tion into a 95-yard touch­down against his for­mer team. Wal­lace recorded a game-high 124

yards re­ceiv­ing on just four catches.

“That was cer­tainly a big score,” Flacco said. “It got the crowd even more into it than they al­ready were.”

Baltimore grew its lead to 10-0 on a 49-yard Justin Tucker field goal three sec­onds be­fore half­time.

He made an­other kick from 42 yards out with 4:50 left in the third quar­ter to bring the lead to 13-0. It was his 20th suc­cess­ful at­tempt on as many tries for the sea­son.

Tucker’s sec­ond field goal was set up by de­fen­sive tackle Timmy Jerni­gan’s in­ter­cep­tion of a Ben Roeth­lis­berger pass. Williams de­flected the throw ini­tially to

set up the pick.

Jerni­gan had re­cov­ered a fum­ble in Baltimore’s last game. He was stripped by a Jets player as he at­tempted to re­turn the ball and gave pos­ses­sion right back New York. Jerni­gan knew not to make the same mis­take twice.

“I was sim­ply think­ing about catch­ing the ball and then fall­ing. I un­der­stand the sit­u­a­tion. I’m a fast learner,” he said. “Grow­ing up in my house­hold, when my mom told you to do some­thing, whether you liked it or you didn’t like it, if you didn’t do it, there was go­ing to be prob­lems. I know to re­spect my el­ders, and if Coach wants me to fall on the ball,

I’ll fall on it. Pe­riod.”

Rookie wide re­ceiver Chris Moore scored his sec­ond ca­reer touch­down just over one minute into the fourth quar­ter. His first score came the pre­vi­ous game in a nearly iden­ti­cal fash­ion.

Buck Allen blocked a Pittsburgh punt. Moore scooped up the loose ball and re­turned it 14 yards to the end zone.

“Buck Allen made a great play block­ing that punt. I just saw it spin­ning like a lit­tle top, and I just did what­ever I could to get it and to score,” Moore said. “It’s crazy, I never thought it would hap­pen like that. I had never scored a spe­cial teams

touch­down in my life, now I have two. It’s amaz­ing.”

Pittsburgh of­fense fi­nally found its groove in the fi­nal 10 min­utes. Roeth­lis­berger capped a nine-play, 75-yard scor­ing drive with a 23-yard touch­down pass to Brown with 8:38 left.

Roeth­lis­berger scram­bled for a 4-yard touch­down run with 48 sec­onds re­main­ing to pull the Steel­ers within a score, 21-14, but a badly botched onside kick at­tempt sealed the out­come.

“We played fast, re­ally dis­ci­plined de­fense. Some­times when you get into those sit­u­a­tions where you’re pro­tect­ing the lead, you might play a lit­tle dif­fer­ently,” Har­baugh said. “You don’t want

to give them an easy one. You don’t want to give them a quick strike. The clock is in your fa­vor.”

For the first time in fran­chise his­tory, the Ravens have won four straight games against Pittsburgh, in­clud­ing six of the last seven meet­ings and the last four played in Baltimore.

“Man, there’s no bet­ter win in this league,” safety Eric Wed­dle said af­ter play­ing in the ri­valry for the first time. “I could get used to this game, the in­ten­sity, the en­ergy and our fans. Just an amaz­ing team win in all three phases.”

Fol­low Sean Gro­gan on Twit­ter: @Sean_Ce­cilWhig

PETER DIANA/PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE/TNS

Baltimore Ravens safety Lar­dar­ius Webb, left, de­fends the Pittsburgh Steel­ers’ Dar­rius Hey­ward-Bey on Sun­day at M&T Bank Sta­dium.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.