PITTSBURGH – The Steelers haven’t completely dug themselves out of an 0-4 hole, but they’re halfway there.
Pittsburgh reached that point Sunday by winning their second consecutive game, this one a thrilling, 19-16 victory over the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field.
Shaun Suisham booted a 42-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Steelers (2-4), who never trailed, to a victory over the defending Super Bowl champions and touch off a celebration the likes of which had not been seen in a home game this season.
Pittsburgh had lost its previous two home games.
“We really wanted to get that first home win,” said linebacker Lawrence Timmons. “That was important.”
Just as important was getting a second consecutive victory after the 0-4 start. The Steelers haven’t exactly put themselves back into the conversation when it comes to AFC playoff contenders, but wins are important at this point.
The victory over the Ravens (3-4) was Pittsburgh’s second consecutive over these hated rivals – the Steelers also won in Baltimore last season on a last-second, 42-yard field goal by Suisham – and its first over the Ravens at home since the AFC Championship game in 2011.
The running game made it happen as Pittsburgh had its first 100-yard rushing game in nearly a year, putting up 141 yards on 29 carries, including a 19-carry, 93-yard effort by rookie running back Le’Veon Bell in his home debut.
“We did the little things right,” said Bell, who also ran four plays out of a Wildcat formation. “The O-line had an attitude. The whole offense had an attitude. We were going to wear those guys out. We were able to do that.”
As has usually been the case in this heated rivalry, it wasn’t easy.
Baltimore, which had trailed the entire game, tied the score, 16-16, with 1:58 remaining in the game on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to tight end Dallas Clark. It was the first touchdown allowed by Pittsburgh’s defense in nine quarters. Flacco completed 24 of 34 passes for 215 yards and one touchdown.
“It was a good drive by them,” said Timmons, who led the Steelers with a career-high 17 tackles. “They’re a good team. It’s tough to keep a good team out of the end zone for an entire game.”
Needing a boost, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin decided to put wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, not usual kick returner Felix Jones, back to receive the kickoff.
Sanders took the kickoff up the sideline in front of Pittsburgh’s bench for an apparent touchdown. But as he reached the end zone, an official came running in to say that Sanders had stepped out of bounds at the Pittsburgh 37.
“I thought he scored,” said Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, who had six receptions for 50 yards. “What a great way that would have been to end this game.”
Instead, the Steelers relied on Suisham, who hit his eighth career game-winning field goal and sixth with Pittsburgh.
“There can’t be any doubt,” said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who deftly moved the Steelers into field goal range for the 31st career fourth quarter game-winning drive of his career and first since beating the Giants in New York last season.
“You have to have confidence, and I want the guys to see the confidence in me.”
As the Steelers relied heavily on their running game, Roethlisberger had his least-productive day of the season, completing 17 of 23 passes for 160 yards and a first quarter touchdown pass to tight end Heath Miller.
But the end result – a win – was far more favorable than a 300-yard game for Pittsburgh’s quarterback.
“For us, it’s still one game at a time,” Roethlisberger said. “We can’t look at the big picture. We are still in a hole and trying to get out. That’s the mentality and approach that I think we have to take.”
Odds and end zones
Suisham also had field goals of 34, 28 and 38 yards and is 14-for-14 this season. … Baltimore, which outgained the Steelers 287-286 in total yards, got three field goals from Justin Tucker. … Miller lost a fumble in the second quarter for the game’s only turnover. It led to a Baltimore field goal. … LaMarr Woodley had a sack for the Steelers, his team-best fifth of the season. … Jason Worilds started at outside linebacker for the Steelers in place of rookie Jarvis Jones, who was inactive because of a concussion. … Marcus Gilbert started at right tackle for the Steelers, but aggravated a quad injury suffered last week and did not play after Pittsburgh’s second possession. He was replaced by Guy Whimper. … Ray Rice was limited to 45 yards rushing on 15 carries for Baltimore.