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Old 11-07-2011, 07:07 PM   #1
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Default Ravens were better ... again

Ravens were better ... again
Monday, November 07, 2011
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

You would think after two games and two beatings that the Steelers wouldn't want to face the Baltimore Ravens a third time in January.

Of course, you would be wrong.

The Steelers to a man will tell you they would take their chances in Round 3 even if the game is in Baltimore.

Whether they actually believe it after their staggering 23-20 loss to the Ravens Sunday night at Heinz Field is a matter of conjecture.

Not that you would ever catch a Steelers coach or player admitting any doubt.

"I feel like we have a really good football team," coach Mike Tomlin said. "We will have more opportunities to show it."

Added defensive end Brett Keisel, "We've got a bunch of tough guys in here. We'll find a way to respond."

Nevertheless, the mood in the losing locker room was as subdued as any in recent memory. That had a lot to do with the improbable way the Ravens won, a 26-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Flacco to wide receiver Torrey Smith with 8 seconds left, completing a 13-play, 92-yard drive. It brought back horrible memories from the 2009 season when the Steelers defense couldn't hold second-half leads in five losses.

But there might have been more to it.

Just as they were in their 35-7 win against the Steelers on opening Sunday, the Ravens were the better team. The game probably shouldn't have come down to the final seconds. The Ravens had a 76-yard touchdown run by Ray Rice on the first play called back by a holding penalty. Their kicker, Billy Cundiff, also missed a 40-yard field-goal attempt late in the second quarter, ending his streak of 32 consecutive makes from inside 50 yards.

The Ravens won because they converted 14 of 21 third-down opportunities, including two on the winning drive during which they also got a 10-yard catch by wide receiver Anquan Boldin on a fourth-and-1 play at the Steelers 49.

"We were on the field way too much," Keisel said. "I think we only held them to one three-and-out."

Two, actually, but you get the point.

Steelers fans will tell you their team was robbed. They didn't like that Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis wasn't called for a helmet-to-helmet hit that knocked wide receiver Hines Ward out of the game early in the second quarter with concussion-like symptoms. (Look for Lewis to be fined by the NFL this week.) They didn't like that Steelers safety Ryan Clark was penalized 15 yards for hitting "defenseless" tight end Ed Dickson late in the second quarter, a call that led to a Ravens field goal. (That one was questionable.) And they really didn't like a pass interference penalty against Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor late in the third quarter that set up a Ravens touchdown. (I didn't see any interference.)

But the officials didn't beat the Steelers on this night. The Ravens did. Besides that, when you can't hold a 20-16 lead in the final two-plus minutes at home when the other team has to go 92 yards, you don't deserve to win.

"That last series, that's what you want as a defense," cornerback William Gay said. "But they made plays and we didn't. They've got a great group over there. They showed it tonight."

Don't get the wrong idea. Gay wasn't just handing out credit. He dished out blame, too.

"That was, on my part, the worst drive ever," he said.

He was beaten on the winning touchdown by Smith.

"I just didn't make the play," Gay said.

None of the Steelers did at the end.

As a result, the Ravens own control of the AFC North Division.

"If we win, we've swept them for the season," Rice had said before the game. "We don't have to worry about Pittsburgh no more the rest of the year. We control our own destiny."

So the Ravens do with their 6-2 record, which ties them with the Cincinnati Bengals atop the division.

And the Steelers? They are 6-3 and, because of tiebreakers that go the Ravens' way, would seem to have little chance of winning the division. Their best chance at the playoffs seems to be as a wild card.

The Steelers should be so lucky to get a third crack at the Ravens.

Ron Cook: rcook@post-gazette.com. Ron Cook can be heard on the "Vinnie and Cook" show weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 93.7 The Fan. More articles by this author
First published on November 7, 2011 at 12:40 am

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11311...#ixzz1d4GUqOG5
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Old 11-07-2011, 10:27 PM   #2
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Default Re: Ravens were better ... again

As much as the unprofessional officiating infuriated me and may have produced different results, we deserved to lose the game. Why?
1. we can't score in the red zone
2. we can't "seal the deal" near the end of games
3. playing prevent mode and "allowing" the Ravens to march right down the field. Yes, we "allowed" them. And then leaving the end zone "unattended" when everybody and their brother knew (except for LeBeau and the defense apparently) that the ball would be thrown right there.

I agree. They were the better team last night. But only slightly. They weren't impressive. I could see us beating them down the road if we correct our mistakes.
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