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(Sunday, December 5th)
Final Score: Pittsburgh 13, Baltimore 10
Baltimore, MD (Sports Network) - Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers got punched in the nose early Sunday night, then rallied for a 13-10 victory over Baltimore to seize control of the AFC North.
In a battle this physical, it was only fitting that the game turned on a defensive play.
Troy Polamalu sacked Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco late in the fourth quarter, exploding untouched across the line to cause a fumble that Pittsburgh recovered for a first down inside the 10-yard line.
The Steelers converted the turnover into Isaac Redman's bruising nine-yard touchdown catch with about three minutes left, taking the 13-10 lead -- their first of the game.
Flacco completed three passes to Anquan Boldin for 43 yards, but the Ravens couldn't get a first down with time running out and they opted not to try for a long field goal to tie it.
"That's Steelers-Ravens right there. That's why we believe that's the No. 1 rivalry in football," said Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin. "It's a humbling thing to be a part of. We're fortunate to come out on top tonight."
Roethlisberger passed for 253 yards, most of them coming after his nose was broken by a blow in the first quarter.
Flattened is more like it.
Roethlisberger played the rest of the game with a bloody jersey and a red stain on his upper lip, but the Steelers (9-3) were no worse for the wear. They took sole possession of first place in the division over Baltimore (8-4) and earned revenge for a 17-14 loss on Oct. 3.
Among Roethlisberger's biggest plays? A pass he flipped out of bounds to avoid a seven-yard sack before the go-ahead touchdown at the end.
"Let's be frank: we needed to come here and even the score in this matchup," said Tomlin. "[The Ravens] came to our place earlier in the year and got us. So we had to even the score."
Flacco was 17-of-33 for 266 yards and threw a scrambling touchdown pass to Boldin that gave Baltimore a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter. Boldin caught five balls for 118 yards -- the only player other than the quarterbacks with more than 100 yards in offense.
Mike Wallace was Roethlisberger's favorite target, catching five passes for 76 yards. Rashard Mendenhall carried 19 times for 45 yards and Ravens running back Ray Rice gained 32 yards on nine rushes.
"Basically, we gave the game away at the end," said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. "We should've won the football game, and that's disappointing."
Roethlisberger wasn't the only player roughed up at M&T Bank Stadium.
Both teams lost tight ends: Baltimore's Todd Heap suffered a hamstring injury on the first play of the game and didn't return and Pittsburgh's Heath Miller suffered a concussion in the third quarter when his head snapped back on a helmet-to-helmet hit by linebacker Jameel McClain. Steelers tackle Flozell Adams also went down in the third.
"Things were so bad, I thought we were going to put me in at tight end," said Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward.
Roethlisberger's nose was bloodied (appropriately enough) on a sack by Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata, who struck the quarterback across the facemask with his left arm on Pittsburgh's first possession.
No penalty was called, the Steelers punted and Big Ben was back in the game for their next series after being looked at on the sideline.
As for the scoring? Baltimore struck first when Flacco scrambled to his right and found a wide-open Boldin in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown pass with 1:59 left in the first quarter.
There was a scrum on the ensuing extra-point attempt when the Ravens jumped offsides and several players gathered and pushed each other. No punches were thrown and no penalties were called for the ruckus.
The first half ended with Baltimore still holding a 7-0 lead and the Steelers pulled within 7-3 on Shaun Suisham's 45-yard field goal on the first possession of the third quarter.
Baltimore responded with a field goal, Billy Cundiff's 24-yarder, and Suisham kicked a 19-yarder at 12:46 of the fourth to pull the Steelers within 10-6.
Polamalu slammed into Flacco as he pulled his arm back to pass -- and just before he got it going forward. The ball was picked up by linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who rumbled 19 yards inside the 10.
"A lot of guys would go in there and (just) sack the quarterback," Tomlin said of Polamalu's forced fumble. "He sees the game a little differently, that's what makes him special."
It took three passes for the Steelers to score. The only one Roethlisberger completed was a dump over the middle to Redman as the Ravens sent a blitz. Redman broke two tackles to score.
"They blitzed everybody, I got it to Isaac and he did the rest," said Roethlisberger, who finished 22-of-38.
Pittsburgh took an 18-12 lead in the regular-season series...The Steelers have won three straight and six of eight since their loss to Baltimore...The Ravens had a two-game winning streak snapped.
12/06 01:33:51 ET