By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers kept the score close and had several chances to put more points on the board, but in the end the Baltimore Ravens held on for a 13-10 win Sunday night at Heinz Field.
The final possession began with about a minute remaining. Leftwich, battling bruised ribs thanks to a continual pounding, found Rashard Mendenhall for 12 yards to get to the 28. But three straight passes hit the ground, and the fourth did not pick up a first down to end the game.
A Steelers fumble basically handed the Ravens three points, and a long punt return upped that total to 10. The Steelers defense gave up just three points, but their offense couldn’t get the job done.
The Steelers trailed the Ravens 10-7 at the half, and they appeared on their way to taking the lead after the defense held the Ravens to three-and-out. On third-and-two, Byron Leftwich hit Emmanuel Sanders for 37 yards to the Baltimore 40. After two Jonathan Dwyer runs for one yard each, Leftwich fired downfield to an apparently open Sanders. But the underneath player, cornerback Corey Graham, intercepted the pass and returned it 20 yards.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco found Anquan Boldin downfield for 23 yards to change field position, but the Steelers defense stiffened and forced a 39-yard field goal. The Steelers drove 80 yards in 12 plays and 6:15, but the fade from Leftwich to Wallace could not connect, and Shaun Suisham kicked a 22-yard field goal to get the Steelers to within 13-10.
But the Steelers couldn’t get any closer, despite several fourth-quarter drives. They held the ball for more than four minutes and drove from their 25 past midfield, but Leftwich got sacked on third down to force a punt. The Ravens got the ball with 4:13 remaining and ran the clock down to about a minute.
The Steelers went deep on their first play from scrimmage, and Wallace drew a 42-yard pass-interference penalty against the Ravens. After a seven-yard reverse to David Gilreath, Leftwich rolled right and took off. It appeared that a few Ravens gave up on the play, and Leftwich kept going for a 31-yard touchdown run.
The Steelers overcame a holding penalty during a nice Dwyer run, as Leftwich hit Wallace for 15 yards. But he was stripped by Arthur Jones, and Ed Reed recovered. The Steelers defense forced a three-and-out, but the rookie kicker Justin Tucker kicked a 26-yard field goal for the easy three.
Leftwich found Sanders open for 25 yards, but he didn’t hit him in stride. So, Sanders fell right there. A sack forced a Steelers punt, and the Ravens traded one back. The Steelers punted two more times, and the Ravens made them pay when Jacoby Jones returned a 51-yard David Butler boot 63 yards for a touchdown to take a 10-7 lead.
Tucker missed a 41-yard field goal wide right after a long drive early in the second quarter, and the score remained that way until halftime. The Steelers started 0-for-6 on third-down conversions and didn’t get their first one until about a minute remained in the first half. Leftwich connected with Jerricho Cotchery for 11 yards on a third-and-three play.
Cotchery had two poor penalties in the first half, so he still had some making up to do. The Steelers lost running back Isaac Redman in the first half to a concussion, but several other players were injured as well. Safety Will Allen banged up his right shoulder and was replaced by Ryan Mundy. Ziggy Hood had a back injury and was replaced by Cam Heyward.