By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — This one’s going to hurt for a while, a 17-14 decision that transformed from a win to a defeat to the Baltimore Ravens in 36 seconds.
That’s how long it took the Ravens to drive 40 yards for the game-winning touchdown. The Steelers put together a spectacular 13-play, 93-yard scoring drive in nearly seven minutes to take a 14-10 lead with 7:14 remaining.
The Steelers defense then held the Ravens on four downs from inside the 10 with the final two coming from the 2, but the Steelers offense had to move out from there with time running out. And two procedure penalties stopped the clock to give Baltimore life.
Daniel Sepulveda’s punt from deep in his end zone traveled to the 50, but the Ravens gained 10 more yards due to a holding call on the Steelers. So, the Ravens needed to go 40 yards for the win and covered it in just four plays.
“We didn’t make enough plays to win the football game,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “We didn’t play well enough, and we didn’t play smart enough.
“I thought that the two turnover opportunities that we had in the third quarter were significant opportunities in the game that we didn’t capitalize on by putting points on the board. And we know that points are going to be scarce in this matchup.”
Some might look at the positive aspect of the game and note that the Steelers are still 3-1 with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returning this week. He can practice during the club’s bye week and return when the Steelers play host to the Cleveland Browns Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. at Heinz Field.
That’s why this loss could stay with the Steelers for a while.
“That’s this journey that we’re on, not just us, but everyone,” Tomlin said. “I love the competition. I’m hacked off right now, but you always are (after a loss). You love the opportunities. This is what we all signed up for in the National Football League. … You like it, if you’re a competitor, and I know that we do. We don’t like the outcome, but we had a lot to do with that.”
Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden agreed.
“It’s a tough situation,” McFadden said. “Our expectations are to go out and win every game, but we had opportunities to win. We just didn’t execute the way we needed to. But we’ll learn from this and move forward.”
What the Steelers should have learned is that they have an excellent defense, and they can be assured that being 3-1 is a better start to this season than many believed was possible with the way the quarterback situation played out.
“I can’t even really worry about what’s going to happen in the next couple days or even the next hours,” Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch said. “The way I see it is that we let one go. It’s an empty feeling any time that you lose. We’re 3-1, so maybe we shouldn’t feel down. But we sure feel that way.”
“We had plenty of chances,” Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith said. “I don’t think that last play is what lost us the game. We left (a lot) out there, so it’s a cumulative thing. We had plenty of opportunities to put the game away, so we’ll have to look at it and see where we can get better.”
Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel is among Roethlisberger’s best friends on the team, and he had a different outlook.
“I don’t think anybody went into this season saying that the best-case scenario is that we’re going to (go 3-1) or whatever,” Keisel said. “This is a team game, and we lost as a team today. We’re glad to have three victories, but anytime you lose it’s upsetting.”
Steelers safety Ryan Clark wanted to give the Ravens some credit, but he couldn’t help but take some blame as well.
“You hate to say that we beat ourselves, because it takes away from the good things that the Baltimore Ravens did,” Clark said. “But a lot of times out there, the wounds were self-inflicted.
“We have to be more disciplined and not get those penalties, and then we have to take advantage of the opportunities that we get on both sides of the ball. (But) the bottom line is we didn’t make enough plays to win, and they did.”
(And), overall, we’re not bad,” Clark added. “We’re a pretty good football team. We had an opportunity to win every game that we’re in, and we could have won today. But we weren’t able to pull it off.”
Finally, place-kicker Jeff Reed, said it best.
“There are no moral victories,” Reed said. “We had chances to win this game, and we didn’t. You can’t say that if we had Ben, we’d be 4-0, because nobody gave us a chance to be 3-1. So, we should have won this game, and we didn’t. And that’s all that matters.”
Notes: Tomlin said that the Steelers will review Sunday’s game footage and have some meetings. They will practice Tuesday through Thursday before taking the weekend off.