goes to: CB Keenan Lewis
The Steelers held QB Joe Flacco to 164 yards passing -- the fifth consecutive game the defense did not allow a 200-yard passer -- and one of the big reasons was Lewis. He has been the team's most consistent cornerback all season and showed it again with 10 tackles and two passes defensed, giving him 18 breakups for the season, second most in the league. He made back-to-back big plays on a third-quarter drive at the Steelers 21-yard line, forcing the Ravens to settle for a field goal. "We knew we had to come out, play hard and prevent them from scoring a lot of points, which we did," Lewis said.
A quick look at the top performances from Sunday's game:
1. JONES' PUNT RETURN: The Ravens offense managed two field goals, but return specialist Jacoby Jones made the play that ultimately mattered. He returned a Drew Butler punt 63 yards for a touchdown -- the first against the Steelers this season -- to give the Ravens a 10-3 lead in the first quarter. It was the third scoring return this season for Jones, who also has kick returns of 108 and 105 yards for touchdowns. "I gave him a ball in play, and he took it the house," Butler said. "The tape will show he made a great play."
2. WALLACE STRIPPED: The Steelers committed two turnovers, and each resulted in a field goal. The first came when Mike Wallace was stripped by CB Chris Johnson after a 15-yard catch, and S Ed Reed returned the fumble 17 yards to the Steelers 12-yard line, setting up Justin Tucker's 26-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
3. LEFTWICH INTERCEPTION: Looking to get back in the game on the first series of the second half, Leftwich completed a 37-yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders to the Ravens 40, only to be intercepted three plays later by CB Corey Graham. That resulted in a 39-yard field goal to make it 13-7.
4. PAINFUL CATCH: Emmanuel Sanders had the three longest catches for the Steelers, the last a 20-yarder on which he took a hit to the helmet from Reed. But the Steelers had to settle for a Shaun Suisham field goal despite having a first down at the Ravens 11.
5. NO TURNOVERS: It looked like the old Steelers defense, holding the Ravens to 200 yards and not allowing an offensive touchdown for the first time this season. The defense failed to generate any turnovers for the fourth time this season. "We played well, but we have to make turnovers in a game like this," Lewis said.
"I thought it was great. We knew this was going to be a Baltimore-Steelers type football game. It was going to be nip and tuck. I thought it was great. Obviously, not enough plays by him or by any of the rest of us to secure victory."
-- Mike Tomlin, Steelers coach on quarterback Byron Leftwich
47 That's how many yards rushing the Ravens managed on 23 carries against the Steelers -- the lowest by an opponent this season. Ray Rice had 40 yards on 20 carries and didn't manage a run longer than 8 yards. He did have the Ravens' longest reception -- a 31-yarder in the first quarter.
After rarely attacking deep with Ben Roethlisberger, offensive coordinator Todd Haley did adapt the offense to Leftwich and called a go-route to Mike Wallace on the first play of the game, resulting in a pass interference penalty that netted 42 yards. Two plays later, Leftwich scored on a 31-yard scramble for a 7-0 lead. It was the only touchdown the Steelers would score. "Then we just shut down," Wallace said. "We didn't get anything after that. You can't win games like that."
The Steelers needed only three plays to take a 7-0 lead, and the manner in which they scored surprised everyone, including players on both teams. Byron Leftwich scored on a 31-yard run down the right sideline, and everyone expected him to go out of bounds, including safety Bernard Pollard. Instead, Leftwich cut inside Pollard for the longest run of his NFL career. "It was surprising to all of us," said WR Emmanuel Sanders. "He surprised us with his mobility and scoring."
@ CLEVELAND BROWNS, 1 P.M. SUNDAY: The Steelers (6-4) play the first of back-to-back games on the road when they take on the Browns (2-8) at 1 p.m. Sunday in Cleveland. The Steelers have won 16 of the past 17 meetings, including four in a row.
First Published November 19, 2012 6:30 AM