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Nov 2, 2014 9:21 PM

Ravens take early 7-0 lead over Steelers

The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) Joe Flacco hit Torrey Smith for a 35-yard touchdown pass, and the Baltimore Ravens took a 7-0 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers into the second quarter on Sunday night.

Jacoby Jones got the Ravens started with a 25-yard punt return and Flacco wasted little time going to work. He found a streaking Smith down the right sideline as the speedy wide receiver beat newly minted starting cornerback Brice McCain.

McCain was a replacement for the struggling Cortez Allen. The Steelers awarded Allen with a $25-million contract extension on the eve of the season opener but his play has tailed off in recent weeks. McCain didn't fare much better early on as Flacco looked right at home in a hostile environment he thrives in.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn't produce the kind of early fireworks that came so easy in a dismantling of Indianapolis last week, when he passed for a career-high 522 yards and six touchdowns.

Pittsburgh failed to record a first down on each of its first three possessions and didn't take a snap past its own 25 until the final minute of the opening quarter.

The Steelers planned to retire the No. 75 of Hall of Fame defensive lineman Joe Greene during halftime. The five-time All-Pro guided a franchise renaissance during a 13-year career when he helped Pittsburgh evolve from laughingstock to a dynasty that won four Super Bowls during the 1970s.

Greene called the honor "overwhelming," and it seemed awfully fitting that the Steelers selected a matchup with the Ravens to serve as the backdrop. In an era when defenses ceded the balance of power to the offense, Pittsburgh and Baltimore feels like a throwback.

Nine of the previous 11 meetings have been decided by a field goal or less, though the Ravens romped 26-6 in Week 2, emerging from a chaotic few days that included the team cutting ties with running back Ray Rice following the release of a casino elevator video that showed him striking his fiancee, now his wife.

The storm seemed to galvanize the Ravens, who were rolling until a stumble at Cincinnati last week. It also marked a familiar pattern of uneven play by the Steelers that they have only recently shaken.



AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL


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