The Times West Virginian

Sports

December 3, 2012

Steelers stun Ravens with late field goal

Third-string QB guides Pittsburgh to 23-20 victory

BALTIMORE — 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.

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