The game pitted two teams who had major issues coming into the game. The Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2 overall, 0-1 AFC North) were without their leader in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who will be out 4 to 6 weeks because of a sprained MCL he suffered last week versus the St. Louis Rams. The Baltimore Ravens (1-3 overall, 1-1 AFC North) were without a win in the first three weeks of the season. Guess who came out on top? The Ravens did, by virtue of the right foot of their kicker Justin Tucker, who connected on a 52 yard field in the first overtime to give the Ravens a 23-20 victory at Heinz Field.
Tucker’s three made field goals tonight were of paramount importance to the Ravens, because their offense suffered through dropped passes by receivers and quite a few promising drives that netted no touchdowns.
As for the Steelers, quarterback Michael Vick did the best he could to will his team to victory in Roethlisberger’s absence. But in the end missed opportunities in and near the red zone doomed them. He finished 19 of 26 for 124 yards and 1 touchdown pass, plus he carried 9 times for 33 yards. He was exciting to watch tonight, but Pittsburgh needed more than his left arm and improvisational skills to beat a stubborn and hungry for a win Baltimore side.
The most frustrating non scoring drive by Pittsburgh took place early in the second quarter. Steelers cornerback Ross Cockrell intercepted quarterback Joe Flacco (20 of 33 for 189 yards, 1 touchdown pass and 1 interception) near the right sideline and then took the pick 37 yards to the BAL 36. But in just three plays, the drive withered away and on came Jordan Berry to punt.
Steelers placekicker Josh Scobee provided the first points of the game after a stalled drive by his team. His successful 45 yard field goal gave the Steelers a 3-0 lead with 7:41 left in the first quarter.
Former Wake Forest all-purpose star Michael Campanaro, scored his first touchdown of the year, when he took a jet sweep to the right and then sped down the right sideline. He then finished off the run when he leaped into the end zone and into the body of Steelers cornerback Antwon Blake. That 9 yard run by Campanaro gave the Ravens their first lead of the game at 7-3 with just 25 seconds left in the first quarter.
Pittsburgh finally was able to put together a touchdown scoring drive, after four drives in the last two quarters netted either no points, a punt, or just a field goal. With less than two minutes left in the first half, running back Le’Veon Bell (22 carries for 129 yards and 1 score) took a Vick handoff to his left, where he couldn’t find much room to run. So, he booked it to his right where he found some space and an empty right sideline, where he was aided by a Vick block and then it was all Bell. That 11 yard touchdown run gave Pittsburgh their second lead of the game at 10-7 with 1:37 left in the second quarter.
Then later in the second quarter, Vick led the Steelers on a 5-play 45 yard drive that culminated with a Scobee 36 yard field goal that barely got inside the lower part of the goal post. Nevertheless, the Steelers had a 13-7 lead at halftime.
Vick completed his first regular season touchdown pass in a Steeler uniform, when early in the third quarter he took the snap, rolled to his left and then let go of a pass that ended up in the hands of wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. The receiver caught the pass while he was falling out of the top-back left corner of the end zone. That 9 yard scoring reception padded Pittsburgh’s lead to 20-7 with 10:41 left.
But the Ravens countered with a touchdown connection of their own just over three minutes later. Flacco took the snap and then quickly found receiver Kamar Aiken (5 catches for 77 yards and 1 score) along the left sideline, who was closely covered by Cockrell. Aiken stretched out his hands and was already in the end zone, just as Flacco’s pass dived into the receiver’s hands. That 15 yard scoring play cut the Steelers’ lead to 20-14 with 7:27 left in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter and just when it seemed that the Ravens were going to take the lead, a fumbled snap by Flacco which made him scramble for the ball, and then get tackled 12 yards behind the line of scrimmage on 2nd and 11. Then on the next play on 3rd and 23, an 11 yard reception by running back Lorenzo Taliaferro forced a 4th and 12 field goal by Tucker. Tucker’s subsequent 40 yard field goal connection cut the Steelers’ lead to 20-17 with 10:14 left in the game.
Much later in the game, dropped passes by Ravens receivers and a sack by the Steelers defense on 4th and 10 gave the Steelers the ball at their 29 yard line with 2:04 left in the contest. Three plays and a prolonged huddle drained the clock to 1:06 left in the contest. At this time the Steelers sent in Scobee, who ended up missing the 41 yard attempt to the left of the goal post.
The Ravens on their last offensive drive of the game, received a huge play when Aiken got down field and beat Blake for a near the right sideline 20 yard reception to the PIT 32. That play set up a Tucker 42 yard field goal which he made and tied the game at 20-20.
Later in the overtime period, Tucker ended all the drama when he connected on a 52 yard field goal to win the game.
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