Ravens strike for late TD, stun Steelers
PITTSBURGH - Torrey Smith wasn’t going to let the winning touchdown slip through his hands twice.
Five plays after a sure scoring strike tipped off his fingers, the Baltimore rookie receiver held onto a 26-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco with eight seconds remaining to lift the Ravens past the Pittsburgh Steelers, 23-20, last night.
Smith capped Baltimore’s decisive 92-yard drive by beating William Gay down the right sideline, and the Ravens (6-2) snapped Pittsburgh’s four-game winning streak.
“For him to keep coming back to me, that meant a lot,’’ Smith said.
Flacco finished with 300 yards passing and Baltimore swept the season series from the rival Steelers (6-3) for the first time since 2006.
“Don’t be fooled, we’ll see them again in January,’’ Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “This is the only team in the world that can play like we play and match us blow for blow.’’
The Steelers appeared to be in control after rallying from a 10-point deficit to take a 20-16 lead with less than five minutes to go when Ben Roethlisberger hit Mike Wallace for a 25-yard score.
Pittsburgh’s defense held once and the Steelers moved in range for Shaun Suisham to attempt a 47-yard field goal that could have pushed their lead to 7. A delay of game penalty, however, pushed Pittsburgh back 5 yards and the Steelers opted to punt.
Flacco, who fumbled midway through the fourth quarter to set up Roethlisberger’s strike to Wallace, atoned during a brilliant 13-play drive.
He converted a fourth-and-1 at the Pittsburgh 49 with less than a minute to go to keep Baltimore’s hopes alive and Smith made up for a drop with the biggest play of his young career.
The Steelers got the ball back with eight seconds left but Antonio Brown fumbled a lateral from Wallace and the Ravens poured onto the Heinz Field turf in celebration.
It was sweet vindication for the Ravens, who watched two of their three previous seasons end on the same field.
With one dramatic play, Baltimore ended Pittsburgh’s surge and moved into a tie with Cincinnati atop the AFC North.
Flacco, who had come under fire from his teammates for inconsistent play, completed 28 of 47 passes and kept his head late after spending much of the second half trying to avoid Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison.
The All-Pro sacked Flacco three times in his first game back after missing a month with a fractured orbital bone around his right eye.
The Steelers trailed by 10 going into the fourth quarter but put together an impressive rally. Rashard Mendenhall scored from 1 yard to pull Pittsburgh within 16-13 and Harrison swatted the ball out of Flacco’s hand on Baltimore’s next possession.
Gay recovered and Roethlisberger put the Steelers in front when he rolled right to avoid pressure and threw in the direction of Brown. Wallace streaked in front of his teammate for the score and Pittsburgh appeared to be on its way to avenging a 28-point loss to the Ravens in the season opener.
Roethlisberger finished with 330 yards passing to become the first Pittsburgh quarterback to top 300 in three consecutive games, but the Steelers’ defense couldn’t contain Flacco at the end.