Ben Roethlisberger couldn’t have done it any better.
Third-string quarterback Charlie Batch directed a 61-yard drive in the closing minutes, and Shaun Suisham kicked a 42-yard field goal as time expired to give the Pittsburgh Steelers a 23-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
Playing without the injured Roethlisberger for a third straight week, the Steelers turned to the 37-year-old Batch for the second game in a row. He went 25 for 36 for 276 yards, threw a touchdown and rallied the Steelers past their arch rivals in the AFC North.
Pittsburgh trailed 13-3 in the first half and 20-13 in the fourth quarter before coming back. Batch missed a wide open Mike Wallace in the end zone near the end of the first half, but the veteran quarterback more than made up for it after halftime.
Pittsburgh (7-5) snapped a two-game losing streak and kept alive its slim hopes of overtaking Baltimore (9-3) in the division. The teams have split their games this season, with each team winning by three points.
The Ravens could have clinched a playoff berth with a victory. Instead, Baltimore had its 15-game home winning streak snapped and also lost for the first time in 13 games against division foes.
Batch outplayed Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, who went 16 for 34 for 188 yards and fueled Pittsburgh’s comeback by losing a fumble in the fourth quarter.
One week after committing eight turnovers in a loss to Cleveland, the Steelers gave the ball away three times against Baltimore. The Ravens converted two of the takeaways into touchdowns, and the third — a leaping interception by Ed Reed in the end zone — kept a 20-13 lead intact with 10:59 left.
Pittsburgh got the ball back, however, when James Harrison forced a fumble by Flacco at the 27. Batch threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Heath Miller to tie it with 7:24 to go.
The next time Pittsburgh got the ball back, Batch showed his poise with a beat-the-clock march. The key play in the final drive was a 15-yard completion to Wallace on a third-and-7.
After generating only 93 yards in offense in the first half, the Steelers opened the third quarter with a 78-yard touchdown drive to pull even at 13.
Batch threw a 43-yard pass to Miller before Jonathan Dwyer scored on a 16-yard run.
Later in the quarter, Batch connected with Emmanuel Sanders near midfield with no defender in sight. But Sanders inexplicably lost his grip on the football after taking two steps, and the Ravens recovered on the Baltimore 37.
The Ravens turned the miscue into a 20-13 lead. Flacco completed a 19-yard pass to Dennis Pitta before Ray Rice took a handoff, veered right, then broke left and outside for a 34-yard score.
The bickering between these two familiar foes began with the opening kickoff, when several players had to be separated after Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones downed the ball for a touchback.
Flacco then threw six straight passes before the Ravens had to punt, and Batch moved the Steelers 48 yards in 11 plays to set up a 46-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Baltimore tied it early in the second quarter when rookie Justin Tucker capped a 40-yard drive with a 45-yard field goal. Then, after Pittsburgh went three-and-out, a pass interference call against Cortez Allen accounted for 30 yards in a 54-yard drive that produced Tucker’s second field goal.
Just when it appeared the Ravens were taking control, Flacco threw an up-for-grabs floater that was intercepted by Ryan Clark near midfield. Pittsburgh gave it right back, though, when wide receiver Antonio Brown took a handoff and ran left before throwing a pass across the field that was picked off by Corey Graham.
Baltimore didn’t waste the gift. Flacco connected twice with Anquan Boldin during a four-play, 69-yard drive, including a 31-yard touchdown throw just beyond Allen’s reach to make it 13-3.
Third-string QB guides Pittsburgh to 23-20 victory
Ben Roethlisberger couldn’t have done it any better.
Whaley, FSHS girls top Bees: VIDEO AND PHOTOS
Kaden Whaley caught a pass along the baseline, split two defenders and floated the ball effortlessly into the hoop.
As the Fairmont Senior bench erupted, assistant coach David Price blurted out, “Wooo, she’s killing them.”
Perhaps that’s the best way to describe it. The junior forward pulled down seven boards, snatched four steals, blocked three shots and scored 30 points (more than the entire East Fairmont team combined) to power the Polar Bears to a 66-20 victory over their cross-town rival.
COLUMN: A message for the snubs: Prove me wrong
I still remember sitting by the phone, waiting for the call that never came.
I was 12 years old, and all summer long my singular objective was to make the Little League All-Star team. I was obsessed. I’d do anything — even my homework if that’s what it took — to be on that team.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Defense needs to be WVU’s No. 1 priority
When Dana Holgorsen took over as West Virginia’s football coach, he came carrying the credentials of an offensive innovator and with an unbroken history of offensive success, the assumption being that it would carry over from Texas Tech, Houston and Oklahoma State to WVU.
Gonzaga avoids upset at WVU
For most of Tuesday night’s battle at the Coliseum, West Virginia did a number on Gonzaga star Kevin Pangos, and because of that and some dazzling first-half shooting by Eron Harris and second-half heroics of Terry Henderson, the Mountaineers seemed on their way to an upset of the nation’s No. 20 team.
East Fairmont, Fairmont Senior cheer squads heading to state competition Friday
No matter the sport, it all comes down to one thing: a championship.
WVU hoping for home-court advantage against Gonzaga
On the surface, you may wonder what chance West Virginia has at victory at 9 p.m. today when Gonzaga comes into the Coliseum to face the Mountaineers.
HERTZEL COLUMN- Gonzaga brings excitement to WVU Coliseum
Gonzaga comes to the Coliseum today to face West Virginia in a 9 p.m. game televised nationally on ESPN2 and, like it or not, it is Gonzaga and not the Mountaineers that has the star power to make this an attractive national game.
FURFARI COLUMN- IMG could still be seen as controversial
West Virginia University is in its first year of partnership with IMG College for at least partial media rights.
County has 20 on All-Big 10 football team
It’s no secret that the Big 10 is a deep football conference, with four teams making the AA playoffs and one in AAA.
Mascaro in the running for USA Today High School Ultimate Athlete award
Fairmont Senior girls’ soccer player Gabi Mascaro is up for another award as the 2012 sports season comes to a close.
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