Ravens vs. Steelers: Pittsburgh falls 13-10

The Pittsburgh Steelers fell two games behind the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North after a 13-10 loss on Sunday night at Heinz Field.

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Leftwich goes down; Charlie Batch next in queue

Steelers fans will be unsurprised to learn that Byron Leftwich was playing hurt against the Ravens.


Steelers on wrong end of 'dull, sloppy' affair

Past clashes between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers have been heavyweight bouts for AFC North supremacy and while it ended as a one-score defensive struggle on Sunday, the absence of marquee players Ben Roethlisberger and Ray Lewis hurt Sunday night's contest.

Neal Coolong from SB Nation's Steelers blog, Behind the Steel Curtain, described the 13-10 Baltimore win as: "Defensively, it was aggressive, but not like the past. Offensively, it was slogging and unbalanced, not at all like the past."

The Steelers' offense struggled without Roethlisberger, scoring just one touchdown in the 13-10 loss.

Pittsburgh's defense shut down Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense, holding them to no offensive touchdowns. The only Ravens' touchdown came on a 63-yard punt return by Jacoby Jones, a play that Coolong called, "the main difference in an otherwise dull, sloppy and uninspiring performance on both sides."

Coolong went on to say the following:

In a game with very few fireworks, Baltimore simply made a few more plays on defense, and the edge earned on special teams gave them the win.

Pittsburgh is now 6-4 on the season and two games back of Baltimore in the AFC North standings. Looking at the Steelers playoff hopes, Coolong wrote:

With all four losses coming within the conference, they'll be at long odds to capture any playoff tiebreakers from this point on, and likely won't be able to lose more than once the rest of the season if they wish to qualify for the playoffs.

You can also watch a video recap of the game, complete with analysis and highlights, below.

The Steelers are back in action on Sunday, Nov. 25, when they travel to Cleveland to take on the 2-8 Browns at 1 p.m. ET.

To read the whole recap and for everything on the Steelers, be sure to visit Behind the Steel Curtain.


Roethlisberger could miss a month, doctor says

A doctor tells Sports Illustrated's Peter King that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's rib injury could put him at "severe risk" if he were to try to come back too quickly.

"This is not about being a tough guy,'' said [Clark] Fuller, who has neither examined Roethlisberger nor seen his X-rays or scans. So he made it clear he was speaking generally about the dislocation of the first rib, which is connected to the breast bone on one side and the spine on the other. A throwing motion, he said, would not allow the rib to heal, and he would not recommend it any time soon. "Playing football with a dislocated first rib would put you at severe risk. There are many things to be concerned about, including destroying the nerves in the arm.''

Fuller (who has not examined Roethlisberger) says the quarterback could be out for at least a month. Of course, no one really knows at this point exactly how much time Roethlisberger will miss, but most estimates seem to be from three to four weeks.

As if Roethlisberger's importance to the Steelers weren't already perfectly clear, Sunday night's loss to the Ravens showed why the Steelers need him back -- Byron Leftwich under-threw his targets several times during the game, leading to speculation about whether he himself might be injured. The Steelers, though, kept running him out there, evidently preferring a struggling Leftwich to Charlie Batch. All other things being equal, the Steelers would have had an excellent chance of winning against the Ravens Sunday if Roethlisberger had been in the game.


Cornerbacks, Dwyer big against Ravens

Behind The Steel Curtain has its winners and losers for the Steelers' Sunday-night game against the Ravens, and they're pretty much who you'd expect. The winners include Jonathan Dwyer, who continued to look like he should be the Steelers' top back, and several defenders. Those included cornerbacks Ike Taylor and Keenan Lewis, who were terrific, along with James Harrison and Lawrence Timmons.

The losers focus on the offensive side, where strange play-calling and Byron Leftwich's often-poor throws cost the Steelers a shot at the win. Leftwich is on BTSC's list, along with Mike Wallace (who caused a turnover and who failed to get both feet in bounds on what would have been a crucial touchdown), Mike Adams (who played like the rookie he is) and Rashard Mendenhall (who couldn't get it going against a weak Ravens run defense and who failed to get out of bounds on the Steelers' final drive).


Steelers lose game, players to Ravens

The Pittsburgh Steelers are always one of the most banged-up teams in the NFL, mostly due to the fact they're old.

Nothing has changed this year, with a bevy of new Steelers now on the shelf with a variety of injuries. Running backs Issac Redman and Baron Batch both were hurt last night against the Baltimore Ravens. Batch sustained a foot injury while Redman has been diagnosed with a concussion, according to Steelersdepot.com.

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery also was injured on Sunday , hurting his ribs while defensive end Ziggy Hood is suffering from a lower back ailment.

It's unclear how long all of them will be out for, but Pittsburgh can't afford anymore injuries at this point. Quarterback Byron Leftwich was also clearly hurting, but he remaining in the game.

With a host of player including stars like Troy Polamalu and Ben Roethlisberger already out, the Steelers are mighty thin at a few spots.


Decisions, broken Leftwich lead to tough loss

As this game approached, Steelers fans justifiably spent most of their football-related energy fretting about the injured Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers, and especially their defense, gave themselves a chance to win without their star quarterback.

What they did with that chance, though, is another matter. The game was riddled with strange decisions and outright mistakes, and that was more than enough for the Ravens, who came away with a 13-10 victory.

Byron Leftwich, starting for Roethlisberger, looked like Byron Leftwich, except worse. It appeared throughout the game as if he might be injured, and he frequently under-threw his targets, but the Steelers kept running him out there, and he ended up 17-of-38 for 201 yards and an interception.

Some of the play-calling was odd, too -- for example, near the end of the third quarter, on 3rd-and-2 from the Ravens' four yard line, Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley had Leftwich throw a fade route to Mike Wallace. It nearly worked, but Wallace couldn't get both feet in, and the Steelers were forced to kick a field goal, instead of the touchdown, which would have tied the game. One would think a rushing play might have been an easier way to pick up the first down, at the very least, particularly given that Leftwich was in at quarterback.

The last several minutes of the game were difficult to watch. The Steelers had burned timeouts earlier in the half, so they had just one left for the end of the game. They burned their last one with 2:04 on the clock. Then, as Baltimore faced a 3rd-and-7, Brett Keisel was called for offsides. The Steelers were able to stop the Ravens on 3rd-and-2, but since the Steelers didn't have any timeouts left, the Ravens were able to run the clock all the way down to 1:12.

Finally, the Ravens punted, leaving the Steelers with just over a minute to charge most of the way down the field to attempt a kick. Unfortunately, on the second play of the drive, Rashard Mendenhall made a catch but chose not to go out of bounds despite clearly having the opportunity to do so, leaving Leftwich and the rest of the offense scrambling to the line as seconds ticked off the clock. Then Leftwich actually made a great throw to Jerricho Cotchery ... who was hit hard by Bernard Pollard, resulting in an incompletion. Then the Steelers botched a snap, but Leftwich recovered the ball and threw downfield to an open David Gilreath. Unfortunately, his throw was way short.

Ultimately, the Steelers lost because Leftwich wasn't good enough, and because their decisions weren't good enough. If Leftwich was hurt (and it looks like he was either hurt, or completely toast as an NFL quarterback), that's one thing. The decision-making was another. The Steelers' defense, which held the Ravens to just 200 total yards, did its part, and let's also tip our caps to running back Jonathan Dwyer, who looked great picking up yardage after contact. Unfortunately, much of the rest of what went on was frustrating.


Winners and losers from Sunday's game ve. Ravens

Here are some quick thoughts on the Steelers loss to the Ravens on Sunday night.


Steelers trail 13-10 heading to 4th quarter

The Pittsburgh Steelers trail the Baltimore Ravens 13-10 heading into the fourth quarter of Sunday night's game in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh's offense showed some life in the third quarter after struggling in the opening half. The Steelers drove 67 yards on their first possession of the second half, but the drive ended abruptly when Byron Leftwich was intercepted by Corey Graham.

Baltimore then took the ball and drove 41 yards in eight plays before settling for a 39-yard field goal by Justin Tucker to make the score 13-7.

On Pittsburgh's next drive, the Steelers moved the ball 80 yards on 12 plays, but they too failed to punch it in the end zone. Shaun Suisham's 22-yard field goal cut the deficit to 13-10.

Leftwich and Emmanuel Sanders found a bit of a connection in the quarter, hooking up twice for long gains. Leftwich has completed 11-of-24 passes for 153 yards, while Sanders has three catches for 82 yards.


Steelers trail Ravens at halftime, 10-7

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens are locked in a defensive battle on Sunday night in Pittsburgh, with the Steelers trailing 10-7 at the half.

Neither team scored in the second quarter, as the defenses controlled the game. Pittsburgh has managed 144 yards of offense, while Baltimore is at just 137 yards. The Ravens' only touchdown is a 63-yard punt return by Jacoby Jones.

Outside of a 31-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, Byron Leftwich has mostly struggled in the place of injured starter Ben Roethlisberger. Leftwich has completed just 7-of-17 passes for 85 yards. The Steelers' running backs have also gotten very little going, with Jonathan Dwyer, Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman combining for 28 yards on nine carries.

Joe Flacco has had some success throwing for Baltimore, completing 15-of-22 passes for 116 yards. But Flacco and the Ravens passing game has not been able to get any big plays. The running game has been completely anemic, as Ray Rice has 10 carries for just 13 yards.


Steelers trail Ravens 10-7 after 1st quarter

The Pittsburgh Steelers trail the Baltimore Ravens 10-7 after the first quarter of a huge divisional contest.

It took just three snaps and 31 seconds for the Steelers to get on the board. After a 42-yard pass interference call put Pittsburgh in Baltimore territory, Byron Leftwich, starting in place of the injured Ben Roethlisberger, showed off some running ability on a 31-yard touchdown scramble.

Baltimore scored the next 10 points in the quarter, using defense and special teams to do it. First, the Ravens forced Mike Wallace to fumble deep in Steelers territory. Baltimore was unable to get the ball in the end zone, but they managed a 26-yard field goal. Later in the quarter, Jacoby Jones returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown.

Pittsburgh has out-gained Baltimore 93-68. Leftwich completed 3-of-7 passes for 46 yards in the quarter, while Joe Flacco completed 5-of-8 for 61 yards. Ray Rice had five carries for three yards.


Roethlisberger's timeline still unclear

ESPN reports that Ben Roethlisberger will be out three weeks, or until the Steelers' rematch against the Ravens on December 2. Or not.

No one could fault ESPN for wanting to hedge a bit, but what this report amounts to is that no one knows when Roethlisberger will be back. It begins by saying the Steelers are "hopeful, though hardly optimistic" that Roethlisberger will be able to play in the December 2 game, then goes on to say this:

Steelers doctors believe Roethlisberger will miss three weeks, though the team has not abandoned hope that he may miss only two games and be able to return for the rematch against the Ravens.

The reports also notes, more concretely, that Roethlisberger is still in pain. It will probably be a week or two before we have a much better idea what Roethlisberger's timetable is. If it does turn out that he misses three games, that's not the worst news for the Steelers, even though two of those games are against the Ravens. If Byron Leftwich and company can win against the Browns next week, the Steelers will still be (at least) 7-5 when Roethlisberger returns, putting them in pretty good position to make the playoffs.


Steelers, Ravens battle for AFC North lead

The Steelers can grab a share of first place in the AFC North with a win on Sunday.


Rashard Mendenhall probable for Steelers

The Steelers get one offensive start back, but will be without another on Sunday in an important battle with the Ravens.


Keenan Lewis: Torrey Smith is 'not Mike Wallace'

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Keenan Lewis stated on Friday afternoon that he is not concerned about the speed of Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith.

Lewis said that while Smith may be fast, he is not as fast as Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace, who he believes is the fastest player in the league. Considering that he has to practice against Wallace every day, he believes that he is fully capable of handling Smith, via NFL.com.

"Honestly, he's a real fast guy, but he's not Mike Wallace. We've got the fastest guy in the league. Period. Every day. So when you have a guy like that you practice with, especially me in the summer time then every day in practice, I'm feeling pretty comfortable about guarding (Smith)."

The Steelers pass defense is currently ranked No. 1 in the NFL this season, allowing an average of only 171.1 yards per game. With starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sidelined for an indefinite period of time due to injury, the defense will potentially need to help out the offense by limiting the amount of points their opponents score.

Pittsburgh trails Baltimore in the AFC North by one game. With the two teams playing each other two times over the next three weeks, the division winner could potentially be decided over that span.


Mike Wallace expects 'finesse' against Baltimore

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace thinks that Sunday's showdown with the Ravens could be filled with more "finesse" than usual. The rivalry has recently been characterized by big hits and physicality, but both teams will be without some of their best players.

The Ravens will be missing linebacker Ray Lewis, while the Steelers will be without safety Troy Polamalu. But it's not just the defensive players who will be different. Now that Hines Ward has retired, the Steelers receiving crew consists of smaller, quicker wideouts like Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders.

As a result, Wallace says, "It's more of finesse Ravens-Steelers game now because there's a lot more skinny guys." Other players have told the media that they expect Sunday to be as physical and intense as any of the previous matchups.

Last season, Wallace did very well against the Ravens, grabbing 12 catches for 175 yards and a touchdown in two games.


Ryan Clark will play, not worried about concussion

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark will play on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, despite suffering two concussions in the last three weeks. Studies have shown that players who suffer multiple blows to the head are more susceptible to concussions, but Clark has passed all of the required tests. He practiced on Thursday and Friday without any problems.

"People make this more dramatic than it is, and there is no drama involved in the decisions I've made," Clark said Friday. "I've only had two (concussions) and I've been playing football since I was five."

He went on to say, "When I decide I can't play the way I've always played, I'll stop playing football, period."

Although Clark refuses to change his hard-hitting style of play, he has made several modifications to his equipment. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, he switched to a "bigger, more heavily padded helmet that is rated as the best in absorbing hard hits." In addition, he has lined his helmet with Kevlar to absorb some of the impact of a big hit.

Clark's most recent concussion came on Monday night against the Kansas City Chiefs on a hit to the side of his head.


Todd Haley adjusting offense for Byron Leftwich

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley is tweaking his game plan to better fit the strengths of backup quarterback Byron Leftwich, who will start Sunday night against the division rival Baltimore Ravens.

According to a report from Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Thursday, Haley said he is making changes to complement Leftwich's skill set rather than attempting to fit the 10-year veteran into the system typically manned by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is sidelined with a sprained shoulder and dislocated rib suffered during Monday night's 16-13 overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

With Roethlisberger under center, Haley and the Steelers usually run an offense described as "dink-and-dunk," leading to speculation in the week that backup quarterback Charlie Batch might be the better fit for that particular style of play.

Haley insisted his method of play-calling is based more on who's on the field, rather than a rigid system that players must conform to.

"We're going to do our best to cater to Byron's strengths as opposed to trying to force square pegs into round holes," Haley said. "He can't go out there trying to be Ben. He needs to go out there and be Byron."

In reliving Roethlisberger on Monday night, Leftwich completed 7-of-14 passes for 73 yard with no touchdowns or interceptions, good for a quarterback rating of 65.5.


Ben Roethlisberger could miss 6 weeks, says doctor

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could miss up to six weeks due to the rib dislocation he sustained against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 10, according to an estimation made by Dr. Melanie Friedlander in a post on AerysSports.com.

Friedlander states that the estimate is conservative in nature and that it is too early in the process to confidently assess how Roethlisberger's body will heal. She notes that he has a past history of high pain tolerance and potentially could heal quickly enough to return prior to the six-week mark.

However, she does state that in her opinion, Roethlisberger's doctors will take a "wait-and-see" approach as the injury is rare. If they allow him to return pre-maturely he could risk a recurrent dislocation, which would lead to other complications.

Of course, it must also be noted that Friedlander has not observed Roethlisberger personally and is merely speaking from a general understanding of the injury.

You can read the full assessment here.


Former Steelers to be honored Sun. at Heinz Field

All this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been commemorating 80 years of Steelers' football with special events for the fans, and on Sunday night Pittsburgh will continue the celebrations by honoring former players before a key divisional battle with the Baltimore Ravens. Via Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

In addition to Porter, recent Steelers Hall of Fame inductees Dermontti Dawson and Jack Butler will be honored as well Sunday night at Heinz Field. The team will be donning their throwback uniforms, first seen in Week 8, on Sunday evening as well.

As part of the "80th Season Celebration Weekend", the team will also be hosting a 2012 Taste of the Steelers event on Saturday night that will feature numerous players from the 80-year history of the franchise.

Kickoff on Sunday night is scheduled for 8:20 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on NBC. The Steelers will be without injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger against the Ravens. The team is 0-4 against Baltimore without Big Ben since his 2004 rookie season.


LB Marshall McFadden says he'll be activated

The Pittsburgh Steelers will have one more linebacker on the field when they face the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. According to his own twitter feed, Pittsburgh practice squad player Marshall McFadden will be on the active roster when the division foes clash this weekend:

McFadden, a former standout at South Carolina State, has been with the Steelers since the middle of January, meaning he was able to participate in all offseason camps and workouts. He was released on Aug. 31 by the team, only to be signed on Sept. 1 to the practice squad. McFadden was out of football all of last season, but made 15 tackles during the preseason.

The Steelers, winners of four games in a row, will be without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday night. Byron Leftwich will start under center in his place. Pittsburgh is 0-4 against the Ravens without Roethlisberger since his 2004 rookie season.

Kickoff between the Ravens and Steelers is scheduled for 8:20 p.m. ET on Sunday evening from Heinz Field.


Hines Ward unimpressed with Byron Leftwich

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the foreseeable future due to shoulder and rib injuries suffered in the team's win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night, meaning journeyman backup Byron Leftwich will take the helm when the Steelers face division foe Baltimore on Sunday evening.

Former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, now a commentator for NBC, pointed out the problematic differences with Leftwich under center rather than Roethlisberger:

"They've got to have Ben on the field. One thing about him, to be able to extend plays and get outside the pocket, that's when he's at his best. When you lose that element of the game and put Byron in there, a guy who is less mobile, now everybody can just pin back their ears and go with the pass rush and the blitz."

Nothing Ward said is false or a surprise, and the Steelers will need to do a much better job of protecting Leftwich in the pocket if they hope to take down the Ravens and force a tie atop the division with identical 7-3 records.

Leftwich has thrown 14 passes this year, completing 7 of those throws for 73 yards. In his 10-year career, he has thrown for over 10,000 yards with 58 touchdowns and 41 interceptions.

Kickoff between the Steelers and Ravens is scheduled for 8:20 p.m. ET on Sunday night from Heinz Field. The game will be televised on NBC.


Ravens 3.5-point favorites against Steelers

SB Nation's OddsShark has the latest on the line for Sunday's Ravens vs. Steelers matchup, which has, unsurprisingly, changed a bunch since Ben Roethlisberger went down with an injury last week against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Steelers, playing at home, were initially the favorites, but the line "swung seven points in a few hours" on Wednesday.

That still only makes the Ravens 3.5-point favorites, which still seems overly generous to a very banged-up Steelers team that will be without its franchise quarterback. Backup Byron Leftwich will play instead, just as he did when Roethlisberger left the game against the Chiefs, and if Leftwich's performance last Sunday is any indication, the Steelers' offense will be a lot more pedestrian. It doesn't help that receiver Antonio Brown is unlikely to play, either.

That doesn't mean the Steelers are dead in the water, of course. The Ravens scored 55 points against the Raiders last week, but before that hadn't really been dominant on either side of the ball, despite their 6-2 record. But I'd still figure Baltimore ought to be a pretty heavy favorite this weekend.


Ravens injuries: Yanda and Smith miss practice

The Baltimore Ravens were missing right guard Marshal Yanda and cornerback Jimmy Smith at Wednesday's practice as they prepare to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Yanda has an ankle injury, and Smith was out with a groin/ab injury that kept him out of the Ravens' win over the Oakland Raiders last week.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata returned to practice after not playing against the Raiders due to a shoulder injury; he was limited on Wednesday. Defensive end Pernell McPhee, who missed Baltimore's last two games with a thigh injury, was also limited in practice. Wide receiver Jacoby Jones (ankle), wide receiver Torrey Smith (chest), and guard Bobbie Williams (ankle) were all limited as well.

Safety Sean Considine (knee/chest), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (finger), safety Bernard Pollard (chest), safety Ed Reed (shoulder/leg/neck), running back Ray Rice (toe), linebacker Terrell Suggs (ankle), and linebacker Courtney Upshaw (shoulder) were all full participants in Wedneday's practice.


Seven Steelers miss practice, Clark participates

The Pittsburgh Steelers were missing seven players at Wednesday's practice, but safety Ryan Clark participated after suffering a concussion on Monday night.


Rashard Mendenhall likely to return vs. Ravens

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall is expected to return to action when the Steelers take on the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night.

Mendenhall has missed the last four games with an Achilles injury he suffered in Pittsburgh's Week 6 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Mendenhall also missed the first three games of the season as he was recovering from knee surgery. Overall he has appeared in just two games this season with 19 carries for 74 yards and four receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown.

Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman have carried the bulk of the load this season with Mendenhall injured. Redman has 84 carries for 295 yards and two touchdowns with 14 receptions for 172 yards. Dwyer has 77 carries for 355 yards and six receptions for 36 yards. Both Redman and Dwyer have missed time this season as well for various injuries, but all three running backs seem ready to go in the same game for the first time this season.

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