Steelers overcome a Halloween scare

Late field goal beats Baltimore, 20-19

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Matt Freed, Post-Gazette
Steelers receiver Hines Ward reaches around Ravens defensive back to tip a deflected pass back to himself for a 12-yard gain.
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Ben Roethlisberger and Jerome Bettis shook off a Halloween night of ghoulish mistakes by the home team to lead the Steelers on a late scoring drive that put away the underdog, undermanned and stubborn Baltimore Ravens, 20-19.

Jeff Reed kicked a 37-yard field goal with 1:36 left as the Steelers escaped the surprising Ravens.

After Matt Stover's 47-yard field goal put Baltimore ahead by two with 3:21 left, coach Bill Cowher turned to Roethlisberger on the sideline and said, "Hey, this is what it's all about." And the quarterback said he told Reed, "I'm going to get us down there, you win the game."

He did just that. Starting from his 21, Roethlisberger, his right knee ailing from an early hit, completed his first two passes to Antwaan Randle El and Quincy Morgan for 37 yards.

"When you complete two passes and get inside the 50, you're almost in field-goal range already," said Roethlisberger, who will have his knee checked further today.

Verron Haynes ran for 7 and then Jerome Bettis ran four consecutive times for 16 yards to the 19.

Reed came on to kick the winner, his fifth in the past two seasons.

"He's Mr. Clutch," Cowher said. "He's made a lot of big kicks for this football team."

The Ravens had one last chance, moving to the 50 but defensive end Brett Keisel sacked quarterback Anthony Wright on third down with no timeouts left and Chester Taylor dropped a short pass on fourth down to end the threat with 20 seconds to go.

"Once Jeff kicked that field goal it was up to the defense," linebacker Joey Porter said. "We knew we couldn't let them come down the field with no timeouts and do anything."

The comeback victory against the 11-point underdogs lifted the Steelers to 5-2 and dropped the Ravens to 2-4.

Matt Freed, Post-Gazette
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is sacked for a 5-yard loss on the last play of the first quarter by Ravens defensive tackle Kelly Gregg.
Click photo for larger image.

The Steelers wanted to throw the ball more yesterday, expecting the Ravens to pack the inside to stop the run. Roethlisberger threw 30 passes, two more than he ever has in a game, and completed 18 for 177 yards and two touchdowns to tight end Heath Miller and one interception. Willlie Parker ran 14 times for 63 yards.

The Ravens also threw. Wright completed 25 of 44 for 252 yards and one touchdown, but he threw two interceptions.

"We did not play our best football and we won the football game," Cowher said.

Baltimore turned in a comical Steelers special teams mistake into the go-ahead score with 3:21 left.

Lined up in punt formation, special teams player Sean Morey stopped behind Steelers center Greg Warren and called out a signal. Warren did not hear it correctly and snapped the ball. It clanked off Morey's shin. Morey picked up the ball, pitched it to punter Chris Gardocki and his pass fell incomplete.

The Ravens took over at the Steelers' 45 and Stover wound up kicking the 47-yard field goal to put them in front, 19-17.

"I've been in the game a long time," Cowher said. "It's the first time I saw that."

Said Warren: "We pulled it out, that's all that matters. That's the happiest thing about it. I'm just happy for this team."

Baltimore, playing with its second-team quarterback and without four other injured starters, refused to knuckle under to the Steelers.

"I commend Baltimore and the effort they had," Cowher said. "They put on a heck of an effort."

Peter Diana, Post-Gazette
Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend rips the ball from the arms of Jamal Lewis to derail the Ravens' opening drive of the second quarter last night at Heinz Field. Cornerback Ike Taylor recovered the ball.
Click photo for larger image.

Reed earlier kicked a 42-yard field goal for the Steelers. Taylor caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Wright and Stover kicked three other field goals of 22, 40 and 49 yards for the Ravens.

The teams matched long touchdown drives the first time each got the ball.

The Steelers took the opening kickoff and took 15 plays to travel 79 yards, topping it off on Roethlisberger's 4-yard scoring pass to Miller.

Hines Ward, who led the Steelers with eight receptions and 75 yards, caught half of them on that drive. On third down, Miller loped wide open in the end zone after safety Will Demps bit on Roethlisberger's pump fake to catch his first touchdown.

The Ravens, struggling on offense all season, responded with a 73-yard touchdown drive on the next series. On third down from the 12, Wright rolled right against the Steelers' dime defense, and flipped a little pass to Taylor. He ran untouched down the sideline and leaped over cornerbacks Deshea Townsend and Ike Taylor and stretched the ball into the front corner of the end zone to knot the score, 7-7.

Roethlisberger helped set up the next Steelers score with his foot. He pooched a punt from shotgun formation on fourth down and Cedrick Wilson downed it at the 1. On the next play, the beleaguered cornerbacks came through with a big play when Townsend stripped Lewis of the ball and Ike Taylor recovered at the 12. Roethlisberger was sacked, but Reed kicked a 42-yard field goal to put the Steelers in front, 10-7.

The Steelers were driving again in Baltimore territory on their next series when Roethlisberger threw his second interception this season, to linebacker Adalius Thomas. That led to Stover's 22-yard field goal and a 10-10 halftime lead.

The Ravens have the NFL's No. 2 defense, but they were without three starters yesterday, including All-Pros Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. But they were able to hold the Steelers' running game to 101 yards on 28 carries.

Chris Hope's interception on a ball tipped by Ike Taylor got the Steelers going early in the second half. Roethlisberger completed all six of his passes on a 10-play drive for 57 yards, No. 6 going again to Miller 8 yards for the rookie tight end's second touchdown of the game and sixth this season. It put the Steelers in front 17-10 with 7:47 left in the third quarter.

Baltimore then drove 63 yards on 17 plays to another Stover field goal, from 40 yards, to whittle the lead to 17-13 early in the fourth quarter as the surprising Ravens hung in against the heavy home team favorites.

The Ravens closed within one point on Stover's third field goal, from 49 yards, with 8:40 left in the game. Two 15-yard passes by Wright put them in position to score on that eight-play drive.

Then they took the lead with 3:21 left.

"We wanted to play better," Ward said. "They came out and matched our intensity but we found a way to win the ballgame."


Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3878.


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