Big Ben finds groove too late for Steelers
BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens frustrated longtime nemesis Ben Roethlisberger long enough to build a three-touchdown lead.
By the time Roethlisberger finally found his groove, it was too late.
Joe Flacco threw a 95-yard touchdown pass to former Steeler Mike Wallace, and the Ravens beat Pittsburgh, 21-14, on Sunday to snap a four-game losing streak.
Baltimore (4-4) moved into a tie atop the AFC North with the Steelers (4-4), who have dropped three in a row.
Three weeks after undergoing surgery on his right knee, Roethlisberger returned well ahead of schedule. Playing for the first time since Oct. 16, the 13-year veteran looked out of sync until the fourth quarter, when he directed a 75-yard drive that got the Steelers to 21-7 with 8:38 remaining.
Before that, Pittsburgh’s offense produced only two first downs and was limited to 69 yards. The Steelers totaled 36 yards rushing, 32 by Le’Veon Bell.
Roethlisberger ran for a 4-yard score with 48 seconds left, but Chris Boswell botched the onside kick — barely knocking it off the tee — and Baltimore closed out its fourth straight win over Pittsburgh (including playoffs).
“The bottom line is we put ourselves in a big hole with some adversity, some of which was created by us,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.
After going 8 for 18 for 54 yards and an interception through three quarters, Roethlisberger finished 23 for 45 for 264 yards.
Baltimore’s only touchdown offensively came on Flacco’s pass to Wallace, who was making his first appearance with the Ravens in this bitter rivalry after playing for Pittsburgh from 2009-12.
Wallace broke free on the left sideline , caught the pass in stride and outran safety Mike Mitchell to the end zone. It was the longest play from scrimmage in Ravens history during the regular season and second-longest in the NFL this year.
The home crowd gasped in the third quarter when Flacco hopped off the field after sliding at the end of an impromptu run. It appeared he had reinjured his surgically repaired left knee, but it turned out that his protective brace broke. He missed only three plays.
Flacco completed 18 of 30 passes for 241 yards to help Baltimore earn its first win since Sept. 25, at Jacksonville.
The offense of both teams was slowed by a steady stream of penalties. Pittsburgh had 84 yards in penalties in the first half and only 66 yards of offense, its fewest before halftime with Roethlisberger at quarterback since 2009.
Baltimore led 10-0 at halftime and 13-0 in the fourth quarter before Javorius Allen blocked a punt and Chris Moore took it 14 yards for a TD and a 21-0 lead with 13:36 to go.
Roethlisberger cut the deficit with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown. The Steelers then forced a three-and-out, and Roethlisberger brought Pittsburgh to the Baltimore 13 before a sack created a fourth-and-18.
Roethlisberger threw incomplete. Minutes later, he took the Steelers 65 yards for a score in his final shot at the end zone.
Moore, a rookie, has scored two touchdowns on special teams in the past two games. “I might not be able to catch some touchdowns, but I’m still going to score,” said Moore, a wide receiver from Cincinnati.
MR. SMITH RETURNS
Ravens WR Steve Smith returned after missing two games with an ankle injury. He had Baltimore’s first catch, a 30-yarder, and finished with four receptions for 47 yards.