Charlie Batch completed just 57 percent of his passes and repeatedly targeted second-year speedster Mike Wallace downfield with unnecessary bombs when he had options underneath, most maddeningly late in the third quarter, deep in Baltimore territory, when a drive-sustaining pass to Heath Miller would've almost certainly led to points for Pittsburgh.
On the drive in question, the Steelers had to instead settle for a Jeff Reed field goal attempt following the incomplete to Wallace. Reed, who missed earlier from 49 yards, missed again from 45. He now has as many failed attempts on the year (four) as in his entire 2009 season. Unsurprisingly, the Steelers failed to produce any points off of turnovers.
Pittsburgh also had 88 penalty yards, many of which came on false start violations on the offensive line, inexcusable missteps for a home-field matchup.
Nonetheless, I'm encouraged by what I saw and definitely think the Steelers are a better team than the Ravens. After all, if the game was this close with Pittsburgh's fourth-string quarterback, how will the Steelers fare in Baltimore with Ben Roethlisberger under center? (Granted, the Ravens were also at a disadvantage with Ray Rice being hobbled, but he is obviously less important to his team than Roethlisberger is to his.)
Furthermore, Rashard Mendenhall looked decisive and powerful, grinding out 79 hard-fought yards on the ground. William Gay had another monster game from his natural position, nickelback. Ike Taylor was his usual terrific self and - unlike his usual terrific self - managed to hang onto an interception. Lawrence Timmons made plays all over the field and continues to look like one of the best inside linebackers in the league. Daniel Sepulveda averaged nearly 50 yards per punt and kept his team in the game with a field position advantage.
Credit Baltimore for putting the game away. There's no denying that the Ravens were the better team this Sunday. But Pittsburgh is still the best team in the AFC North.