NFL Game Summary - Pittsburgh at Baltimore
(Sunday, November 29th)
Final Score: Baltimore 20, Pittsburgh 17 (OT)
Baltimore, MD (Sports Network) - Rookie linebacker Paul Kruger intercepted a
Dennis Dixon pass and returned it into Pittsburgh territory less than five
minutes into overtime, and Billy Cundiff made the Steelers pay by kicking a
29-yard field goal six plays later, as the Baltimore Ravens escaped with a
20-17 victory in a critical AFC North matchup from M&T Bank Stadium.
The interception, which came on the Steelers' second drive of the extra
session, was Dixon's final play in what was otherwise a gutty effort by a
player who had been the team's third-string quarterback up until last week.
The second-year quarterback, who had thrown just one prior NFL pass, was
pressed into service when starter Ben Roethlisberger (concussion) and top
backup Charlie Batch (wrist) were ruled out earlier in the week, and acquitted
himself reasonably well.
Dixon completed 12-of-26 passes for 145 yards, a touchdown, and just the one
turnover, keeping the Steelers (6-5) in the contest throughout and nearly
coming up with the game's key highlight on a 24-yard touchdown rush that gave
Pittsburgh a 17-14 lead with 6:24 left in the fourth-quarter.
"I was proud of him," said Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward. "He stood strong
all to the end and he did the best he could do. We were really negated by some
of the game plans because he really wasn't familiar with a lot of stuff. We
just tried to keep things very basic. As far as I'm concerned, he played his
The touchdown was the culmination of a drive that began when the Ravens (6-5)
committed a costly turnover after quarterback Joe Flacco was strip-sacked by
outside linebacker Lawrence Timmons, with the ball recovered by Steelers end
Brett Keisel at the Pittsburgh 46-yard line.
Flacco, who was 23-of-35 for 289 yards and a touchdown, was sacked a total of
five times in the game but had a hand in some late-game heroics.
Following the Dixon touchdown, with the Ravens down 17-14 and facing a 4th-
and-5 play from their own 46-yard line with 3:31 left in the fourth, Baltimore
stared down what would have been a damaging defeat when running back Ray Rice
kept alive a short toss from Flacco with a 44-yard catch-and-run.
Rice amassed 155 yards (88 rushing, 67 receiving) on 24 total touches (19
rushing, five receiving) against what was the NFL's top-ranked rushing defense
entering the night.
"That was a way to get my confidence back," said Rice. "I like to take
ownership for what I do on this team, and on the sack-fumble, that was my
fault...and they scored on that drive, so I was down a little bit on the
sideline. For them to call my number in that situation, it shows the
confidence they have in me as a player."
Cundiff subsequently tied the game at 17-17 on a 24-yard field goal four plays
later, and nearly had a chance to win it for the team in regulation after the
Ravens stopped the Steelers on a three-and-out on their ensuing drive.
Baltimore would march as far as the Steelers 34-yard line in the final minute,
but Cundiff's 56-yard attempt as time expired fell short, a miss for which the
journeyman would redeem himself in OT.
"I came here to do two things, that was to make field goals and bring some
stability," said Cundiff. "I've done that for two weeks, so now I've got to
continue to do that because we've got a long road ahead, obviously. We've got
games we've got to win in order to make the playoffs."
After forcing a three-and-out by the Steelers on the game's first drive, the
Ravens struck first when Willis McGahee capped off a nine-play, 73-yard drive
with a two-yard touchdown run. The TD ended a five-game scoring drought for
McGahee, who had found the end zone in each of Baltimore's first four games.
Flacco was 5-of-5 for 50 yards passing on the team's opening drive.
Pittsburgh got even early in the second quarter, however, when Santonio Holmes
became the recipient of Dixon's first career touchdown pass on a 33-yard
catch-and-run to tie the score at 7-7.
Baltimore would take the lead into halftime thanks to a six-play, 89-yard
drive, culminating in a 10-yard TD pass from Flacco to Derrick Mason with 1:45
left in the second-quarter. A 54-yard deep ball from Flacco to Mark Clayton
earlier in the march, which moved the Ravens to the Steelers 16-yard line just
two plays prior to the touchdown, helped set up the score that made the game
The Steelers cut the lead to 14-10 when Jeff Reed was true on a 44-yard field
goal at the 9:09 mark of the third quarter, accounting for the only points of
the half prior to the dazzling Dixon touchdown run.
"We came up short. We accept responsibility for that," said Steelers coach
Mike Tomlin. "We will not go gently. We will unleash hell here in December
because we have to. We won't go in a shell, we'll go into attack mode, because
that's what required."
The Ravens snapped a three-game losing streak to the Steelers, including a
23-14 loss in last year's AFC Championship...Dixon's start was his first since
Nov. 15, 2007, when he opened Oregon's game against Arizona before being lost
for the season after aggravating a knee injury...Roethlisberger was dressed
as the team's emergency No. 3 quarterback and participated in pre-game
drills...Mason's first-quarter touchdown catch was his first score in 23
career appearances (regular season and playoffs) against the
Steelers...Kruger's interception was the first of his career...Baltimore and
Pittsburgh will meet at Heinz Field on Dec. 27...Baltimore running back Le'Ron
McClain left the game in the third quarter with an abdominal strain and did
not return...Pro Bowl defensive players Terrell Suggs of the Ravens and Troy
Polamalu of the Steelers both missed the contest with knee injuries...In
addition to the touchdown scamper, Dixon had a 31-yard run on the team's
second drive negated by a holding penalty.
11/30 01:11:42 ET
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