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Old 11-30-2009, 07:04 AM   #1
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Default Game Rewind: At Ravens

Game Rewind: At Ravens
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Monday November 30, 2009 12:39 AM


Dennis Dixon obviously wasn’t a true hero because the Steelers didn’t win. But all things considered, even in defeat Dixon played well in his first career start. Considering he hasn’t played at all this year, he did as well as could be expected as he went from third-string quarterback to starter. Dixon was forced into action under difficult circumstances. But against the archrival Ravens, Dixon held more than held his own. A second-year pro, Dixon proved he’s more than capable of replacing Batch as the backup QB and filling in for Roethlisberger whenever needed.


The Steelers’ defense didn’t play winning football. They can’t be blamed for the game-winning field goal in overtime. The interception Dixon threw set up Billy Cundiff’s 29-yarder. But knowing that the offense was in a predicament with Ben Roethlisberger sitting out, the defense needed a stronger performance. However, on the first series of the game, the Ravens marched right down the field for a nine-play, 73-yards touchdown drive. On four straight plays, the Ravens gouged the Steelers for gains of 15, 20, 12 and 19 yards. Just before halftime, the Steelers allowed an 89-yard TD drive that included a 59-yard pass completion. Then late in the fourth quarter, the Steelers allowed an 84-yard game-tying field goal drive that included a 44-yard pass completion.


The interception and 26-yard return by Baltimore linebacker Paul Kruger in OT put the Ravens’ in position to kick the game-winning field goal. But for two honorable mention plays of the game, there was Dixon’s 33-yard TD pass to Santonio Holmes in the second quarter and Dixon's 24-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
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0: That’s the number of interceptions through 11 games by Ike Taylor and William Gay, the Steelers’ first-team cornerbacks.


The Steelers desperately need a win, and they should get it this coming Sunday when the Oakland Raiders (3-8) come to Pittsburgh. In all likelihood, the Raiders’ starting QB will be Bruce Gradkowski, a former Seton-LaSalle High School star. A fourth-year pro, Gradkowski is playing with his third NFL team and 0-2 against the Steelers. As a rookie with Tampa Bay in 2006, Gradkowski threw two interceptions and was sacked three times in a 20-3 loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field. Last year when he played Cleveland, he threw three interceptions and was sacked five times as the Browns lost 31-0 to the Steelers at Heinz Field.


The Steelers (6-5) have lost three straight for the first time since the 2006 season. That’s when they unsuccessfully defended their Super Bowl XL championship by failing to qualify for the playoffs with an 8-8 record. Right now, they’re tied for second in the AFC North with the Ravens (6-5) and trail the Bengals (8-3) by two games. On a positive note, the Steelers’ next two opponents are the Raiders and Browns, who, at 1-10, have the worst record in the AFC. So the Steelers should be 8-5 when they host the Packers on Dec. 20.
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