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Old 12-27-2009, 09:19 PM   #1
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Default Unbelievable: Defense holds late lead

Dec 27 2009
Unbelievable: Defense holds late lead
By Bob Smizik | Sunday 4:40 p.m.

The Baltimore Ravens were exactly where they wanted to be in order to qualify for the playoffs: They were trailing the Steelers in the fourth quarter.

Is there a better place for an NFL team to be?

No team in the NFL is more careless with fourth-quarter leads than the Steelers. Itís almost a given that the Steelers will surrender such an advantage.

Not this time, and maybe thatís a indication of a new day for Steelers football.

The famously porous defense did not collapse and the Steelers, with plenty of help from the Ravens, won, 2Santonio Holmes scores second-quarter TD. (Peter Diana/Post-Gazette)3-20, at Heinz Field this afternoon.

The Steelers are 8-7 and alive in the playoff hunt, but still in need of a win next week at Miami, which is looking very beatable, and, as I read this thing, help from other teams.

The Ravens have plenty of reason to whine. Their undisciplined play cost that as many as two touchdowns and Iím sure folks in Baltimore are ranting their team was jobbed by the officials. But it wasnít that at all. It was stupid playing by the Ravens, which resulted in two touchdowns being called back because of penalties as well as a late interception that might have given them a chance to tie or win the game.

All that and a dropped pass in the end zone by normally reliable Derrick Mason were gifts for the Steelers, but donít call them lucky.

The statistics went to the Ravens. They possessed the ball for five more minutes than the Steelers, ourushed the Steelers by 127 yards and outgained them by 37. They also had 11 penalties for 113 yards.

The Steelers could not run and could not stop the Ravens from running Rashard Mendenhall carried 17 times for 36 yards. Ray Rice shredded the Steelers' defense for 141 yards on 30 carries.

But that same defense did not wilt in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens had two possession that began in the fourth quarter. The first resulted in -1 yards, the second in 11 yards. The second possession began on the Steelersí 49 because of an excellent kickoff return following Jeff Reedís game-winning 38-yard field goal. It ended in successive sacks of Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco -- both by Lamarr Woodley.

What a season it has been for the Steelers. It started sloppy, with a close win over an overrated Tennessee team. Next came two unexpected losses, then five wins, then five losses.

Now the streak is at two wins. The playoffs are a possibility. It's something no one had a right two expect 10 days ago.
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Old 12-27-2009, 09:31 PM   #2
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Default Re: Unbelievable: Defense holds late lead

Three weeks too late for the "unbelievable" to happen.
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