The Steelers wore their normal uniforms Sunday at Heinz Field and staged a throwback game instead. Back, back, back to the days when they ran the ball, played good defense and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger led them on a late drive to win it.
It was a typical Baltimore-Steelers football game at Heinz, only it wasn't Joe Flacco and the Ravens pulling one out at the end this time. Flacco, whose team won the previous three regular-season games played at Heinz Field, came close when he directed his offense on a 73-yard drive to its only touchdown with 1:58 to go.
But that only tied it. Roethlisberger then took the ball and, erasing memories of those times in 2012 when he found himself in similar circumstances and did not get it done, led his offense 39 yards for the winning score.
Steelers Report: Steelers 19, Ravens 16
Steelers beat writers Ed Bouchette and Gerry Dulac talk about the Steelers' win over the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field. (Video by Peter Diana; 10/20/2013)
It came off the right foot of Shaun Suisham with no time left, a 42-yard field goal, his fourth of the game, for a 19-16 victory. It was the ninth time in the past 11 regular-season games between these teams that the outcome was decided by three points or fewer.
"It's about time we do a fourth-quarter drive," Roethlisberger said.
He did have three fourth-quarter, winning drives in 2012 but more memorable were the ones in which he had the ball late with a chance to pull it out and threw interceptions instead in losses against Denver, Dallas and Cincinnati.
Not this time. After officials ruled that Emmanuel Sanders did not return the kickoff 107 yards for a touchdown and instead stepped out at the Steelers 37, Roethlisberger took his offense onto the field with 1:45 to go.
"You have to have confidence and I want the guys to see the confidence from me," Roethlisberger said. "We need to have all the confidence in the world that we are going to go down and win this game. I think everyone believed it. I think it is big when everybody buys into what you are doing and we did a good job of that."
Two completions of 13 and 11 yards to Antonio Brown helped put Suisham in position to kick again and he made it, just as he did last season when put in similar positions three times at the end of games. He is 14 for 14 this year.
"That's my job," Suisham said. "I'm happy that I did it. A lot of guys out there did their job, too."
The Steelers won their second game in a row and tied the reigning world champs in the loss column. But with a 2-4 record, there still was no celebrating in their locker room.
"We're playing for our season," said LaMarr Woodley, who had his team's only sack of Flacco, his fifth of the season. "We still have a lot of opportunity to turn this thing around."
Said coach Mike Tomlin, "We're just going to try and win each and every game and let the result of it speak for itself. Obviously, we put ourselves in this hole and we've got to dig our way out of it."
As they put their shovels to work Sunday, they not only discovered how to win again, they discovered some vital parts of their game that went missing through the first part of the season. One was the blocking of their offensive line, and the other was their ground game.
Roethlisberger had an efficient day throwing, completing 17 of 23 passes for 160 yards that included one three-yard touchdown shovel pass up the middle to Heath Miller, a play last seen by Hines Ward. He was sacked three times but was not running for his life the way he was through the first four games.
Then there was rookie halfback Le'Veon Bell. He ran 19 times for 93 yards and set up in the wildcat formation four times, something the Steelers have not used. In all, they ran 29 times for 141 yards, by far their season high.
"Any questions about Le'Veon Bell today?" Mike Tomlin fairly crowed to reporters afterward.
"He did a great job," Roethlisberger said of the rookie who had managed only 91 yards and a 2.8-yard average per carry in his previous two games. "He was patient when he needed to be. He was physical when he needed to be. He used his speed and did a great job. The credit goes to the offensive line."
Tomlin also thought his offensive line played well. The effort came after right tackle Marcus Gilbert left early when a thigh injury bothered him. That brought on veteran Guy Whimper at right tackle with Mike Adams playing some tight end.
"Hopefully, their best days lie ahead. I know it was pretty good," Tomlin said of his line.
Their defense, for the fifth game this season, did not have a takeaway and just that one sack of Flacco, one of the most-sacked quarterbacks in the league, but they also did not allow a touchdown for nearly the entire game.
Justin Tucker instead kicked three field goals -- one from 38 yards eight seconds before halftime after the Steelers' only turnover, a fumble by Heath Miller. But then Flacco, as he has done at Heinz before, led the Ravens (3-4) on a late drive that ended when he tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Clark.
Tomlin, who has been good on his promise to make changes, switched his kick returner on the last Baltimore kickoff from Felix Jones to Sanders. Sanders rewarded him with what looked like a game-winner of his own. The kick came from the 45 because Troy Polamalu was offsides on the Ravens' extra point kick -- leaping over the offensive line before the ball was snapped.
Nevertheless, Tucker did not boot it out of the end zone -- and Sanders did not down it when he caught it seven yards deep, instead running it out.
"It was one of those ones," Roethlisberger said, "where 'E' started running out and you said to yourself 'no, no, no,' and then 'yes, yes, yes.' What a heck of a play by him."
Although disappointed by the ruling he had stepped out of bounds at the 37, the Steelers liked their chances with good field position.
"We had a little bit of time," Roethlisberger said, "and got a little bit of two-minute and a little bit of no-huddle and play-calling and got into Shaun Suisham's range.
"And we count on him to make it every time."
So that's two wins and counting for all of them after opening at 0-4.
"There is nothing really to celebrate," Woodley said. "Right now, we have to continue to move forward. We have to continue to stack the wins. We put ourselves in this hole and we still have to get out of it."
At least now they can see some daylight.Steelers - homepage - breaking
Ed Bouchette: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @EdBouchette. First Published October 20, 2013 1:40 PM