BALTIMORE – Call this one the Miracle at M&T.
Their backs against the wall, the Steelers went to Baltimore as 8-point underdogs to the Ravens.
And with injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger still at least a week away from returning and the Ravens having already beaten the Steelers at Heinz Field two weeks ago, even that didn’t seem like enough points to give Pittsburgh.
But the Steelers rallied from a 10-point deficit, getting a sack and forced fumble by James Harrison in the fourth quarter to shock the Ravens, 23-20, Sunday on Shaun Suisham’s 42-yard field goal as time expired.
Charlie Batch, making his second start in place of Roethlisberger, completed 25 of 36 passes for 276 yards, one touchdown and one interception as the Steelers (7-5) kept their playoff hopes alive and ended Baltimore’s 15-game home winning streak.
“This was a character win for us,” said Steelers linebacker Larry Foote. “The Ravens are a very special team at home. We’ve still got a lot of work to do. We need to win four more games, but this win was great for our confidence.”
And they earned it by taking advantage of a rare Baltimore (9-3) miscue.
The Ravens, who could have clinched the AFC North championship with a win, entered the game with only nine turnovers all season. But moments after Batch was intercepted in the end zone by Ed Reed, Harrison sacked Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco and forced a fumble that was recovered at the Ravens’ 27-yard line by Ziggy Hood.
“I had been bull-rushing all game,” said Harrison. “Basically, I set up the same way, as I was going to bull-rush, and I just slapped hands. Just hand played (the offensive lineman) outside. Flacco held onto the ball a little longer than normal, and I was able to get my hand in there.”
Four plays later, Batch threw a short pass to tight end Heath Miller, who dove to the pylon to tie the score at 20-20 with 7:37 remaining.
“Heath did a great job of body position and really stretching out to make that play,” Batch said.
After forcing a Baltimore punt with 6:14 left, the Steelers took over at their own 15.
Batch completed five of five passes for 45 yards, and Baltimore’s Paul Kruger was penalized 15 yards for roughing the quarterback following a 10-yard completion to Mike Wallace, putting the Steelers in field goal range.
Suisham, who kicked field goals from 46 and 41 yards in the first half, made the game-winner to set off a celebration on the Pittsburgh sideline.
“The only people that thought we could win were the people in Pittsburgh and the people in this locker room,” said Steelers safety Ryan Clark. “Everyone else thought this was a done deal. Today, you saw the fight this team has and the will to get it done. We’re still alive, but we need some more games like this.”
Not that it looked that good early.
The Steelers took a 3-0 lead with a 48-yard dive, highlighted by Jonathan Dwyer’s 25 yards on five carries. The dive ended with a Suisham field goal.
Baltimore scored on its first two possessions of the second quarter, getting field goals of 45 and 23 yards from Justin Tucker to go ahead 6-3.
The two teams traded interceptions, with Clark picking off Flacco, and the Ravens’ Corey Graham making a nice play on a wide receiver throwback pass by Antonio Brown that was intended for Dwyer.
Baltimore turned Brown’s interception into a 13-3 lead. Flacco threw a 31-yard pass to Anquan Boldin, and then went back to him on the next play for a 28-yard touchdown pass with 3:23 remaining in the first half.
“It (stinks) that we let this one go,” Baltimore safety Bernard Pollard said. “Right now, we’re just trying to figure out how and why. Right now we’re eating humble pie.”Chris Rainey returned the ensuing kickoff to the Pittsburgh 40 and the Steelers cut the gap to 13-6 on a Suisham field goal, after Batch overthrew wide open Mike Wallace in the end zone on third down from the Ravens’ 23.
The Steelers tied the score on the opening possession of the second half on Dwyer’s first career TD run, coming from 19 yards. Baltimore regained the lead at 20-13 on a 34-yard touchdown run by Ray Rice with five minutes left in the third quarter.
“We knew it was going to be a tough environment, against a good football team, but we’re happy to be here and get the win,” said Miller, who led the Steelers with five catches for 97 yards.
Odds and end zones
Demoted to third-string running back this week, Rashard Mendenhall was among the Steelers’ inactives. … Cornerback Ike Taylor suffered a right ankle injury breaking up a deep pass on Baltimore’s opening possession. He did not return and was replaced by Cortez Allen. … Fullback Will Johnson suffered a concussion. … Harrison, Foote and Hood each had a sack.