Sunday, December 2, 2012

Steelers Get Their Revenge; Beat Ravens Without Roethlisberger, 23-20


726 straight days, 15 games in a row at home and the last 12 games in the AFC North. The Ravens streak now reads zero.

And on the 727th day, the Steelers rested.

More important for the fans may have been the fact that the Baltimore Ravens (9-3) were 5-0 when the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) were without Ben Roethlisberger. Thanks to Charlie Batch, James Harrison and Heath Miller, that's no longer an issue.

After they did all the heavy lifting, wunderkind Shaun "Sushi" Suisham batted clean up and sent one through the uprights to bring the Steelers a hard-fought 23-20 victory over their hated rivals. - http://tinyurl.com/c2lx4pt

Uncle Charlie Batch, 38 on Wednesday, was 25-36 passing for 276 yards and was the Steelers Digest Player of the Week. It was the most yards that Uncle Charlie has thrown for as a Steelers quarterback. And it was certainly his biggest victory as a Steelers starter.

He also threw a touchdown pass to Heath Miller for the tying score. It was Miller's 38th career touchdown, passing Elbie Nickel for the most touchdowns for a tight end in Steelers franchise history. He had five catches total for 97 yards.

Harrison's strip sack, recovered by Ziggy Hood, late in the game led to the touchdown in question as the Silverback welcomed Michael Oher (more commonly know to Steelers fans as "Deebo's b**ch) back to the blind side. He finished with seven tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

Then kicker Shaun "Sushi" Suisham drove home a 42-yard field goal as time expired to cement the win, his 7th career game-winning field goal.

Running back Jonathan Dwyer rushed for 49 yards and scored the other touchdown - the first of his career.

The Steelers rebounded from last week’s disaster-ridden, turnover-laden game and "only" gave it away three times. Even those shouldn't have happened, and the Steelers paid for them early.

A trick play of a fake end-around from wide receiver Antonio Brown across the field to Jonathan Dwyer was intercepted by Ravens cornerback Corey Graham. Four plays later, Flacco hit Anquan Boldin for a 28-yard touchdown.

Emmanuel Sanders inexplicably lost handle of the ball as he tried to secure it by switching hands. Instead of tucking the ball away, he coughed it up and lost his second fumble in as many games. It was the ninth lost fumble for the Steelers as a whole in the last four games.

What's worse is that he so open that there was nothing in front of him but grass. With his speed it would easily have been a touchdown.

Six plays after Sanders' fumble, Ray Rice scored on a 34-yard run. Rice had only 34 yards rushing up to that point. He finished with 78 yards on the ground.

The other was an ill-advised throw over the middle that was intercepted by (who else?) Ed Reed. Uncle Charlie is 15-year veteran. He should know that you never throw it late over the middle. Especially when Reed is playing centerfield. Bad decision. Bad throw. Bad results.

Earlier in the game Uncle Charlie had actually overthrown Mike Wallace who was wide open in the back of the end zone as a result of a mix-up in coverage. A play similar to what happened with Wallace against the Oakland Raiders earlier in the year. Big Ben hit Wallace on that play for the touchdown. Uncle Charlie's pass hit someone's Terrible Towel in the first row.

Ultimately, though, that last gaff didn't matter because the Steelers bounced back as they had all game. Mainly by way of the Harrison forced fumble and sack.

After Reed picked Batch in the end zone, the Silverback made his biggest play of the season. That led to a 7-yard touchdown pass to Miller who scored by stretching forward and, keeping his foot from stepping out of bounds, hitting the pylon with the ball.

Then the Steelers defense, the No. 1 unit in the NFL, got the ball back for the Steelers and Uncle Charlie completed all five passes on the final drive for 45 yards to get the Steelers in field-goal range. - http://tinyurl.com/bqkqkrr

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who is usually better at home, was streaky throughout, finishing 16 of 34 for 188 (177 minus the sacks) yards, one interception and the fumble.

This was a telling game for the Ravens. They might just be third best team in AFC North at present. They have a big lead, yes, but the Steelers were the better team in both games against them. Baltimore actually should have lost to Leftwich too. Now they go to Washington and could lose there next week with the threats the Redskins have. If so, watch out.

Think about it: Could they have gone into Pittsburgh and beaten the Steelers and Big Ben with their back up quarterback, let alone their third stringer? Not. A. Chance. The next four weeks will be telling.

Maybe another streak has already started.

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TIDBITS: In his post-game press conference, Mike Tomlin said Emmanuel Sanders suffered a shoulder joint sprain, but he did return and should be fine for next week.

Fullback Will Johnson may have suffered a concussion. More on him later.

Tomlin said Ike Taylor needs an MRI after suffering an ankle/lower leg injury. Per Pro Football Talk, league source says Ike has fibula injury; fears are that it could be significant, 2-6 weeks absence. More will be learned on Monday via MRI and will be disclosed by Tomlin at his Tuesday press conference. - http://tinyurl.com/csl9v5j

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Paul Kruger on his roughing the passer penalty: "It was a big mistake on my part. I just can't believe I put my teammates in that situation."

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Ray Rice: "This game is not going to make or break our season. Give credit where it's due. They made the plays we've been making over the last few times. They were the last team to beat us here. I guess they're on their playoff run right now. They deserve it. The flip of the coin didn't go our way this game. We'll live to fight another day."

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Speaking of Ray Rice, remember his quotes last week? We put them in our pre-game blog. They were all warm and cozy, weren't they? Well, did anyone see the exchange between the head coaches Tomlin and John Harbaugh? Heh...

Harbaugh says congrats and Tomlin had zero time for him. Harbaugh pulled him back and Tomlin acted as if he'd said all he needed to say. Here's the video of the Mike Tomlin-John Harbaugh "handshake." - http://tinyurl.com/d8zsjep

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Then...
Ed Reed takes pot shot at Charlie Batch: http://tinyurl.com/bsomke6

So much for warm and cozy. But, it's all good, we hate you too. See ya in the playoffs, Ratbirds.