Nov 2, 2014 10:31 PM
Steelers race to 22-10 halftime lead over Ravens
The Associated Press
PITTSBURGH (AP) Ben Roethlisberger tossed three second-quarter touchdown passes to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 22-10 halftime lead against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night.
A week after passing for a career-high 522 yards and six scores against Indianapolis, Roethlisberger shook off a slow start to put the Steelers in control.
Roethlisberger hit Le'Veon Bell for a 5-yard score, hooked up with rookie Martavis Bryant for a 19-yard touchdown and found Markus Wheaton deep down the sideline for a 47-yard TD during a 22-point outburst over the final 7:18 of the half.
Even when things went wrong, they went right for Pittsburgh. The Steelers tacked on a 2-point conversion following Wheaton's score when punter/holder Brad Wing made up for a botched hold by scrambling to his right and connecting with tight end Matt Spaeth.
The Ravens had an early 7-0 lead behind a 35-yard strike from Joe Flacco to Torrey Smith, but Pittsburgh rallied behind a defense that stirred the echoes on a night the team retired the number of Hall of Fame defensive lineman Joe Greene.
The Steelers, led by resurgent linebacker James Harrison, forced a pair of turnovers that Roethlisberger converted into touchdowns. Brice McCain raced 26 yards following a Lorenzo Taliaferro fumble to set up Roethlisberger's toss to Bell and Jason Worilds picked off Flacco and returned it 30 yards to put Roethlisberger in position to find Bryant.
The 6-foot-4 fourth-round pick's scoring grab gave him four touchdowns in three games.
Pittsburgh's run was reminiscent of a 24-point jolt late in the second quarter against Houston two weeks ago, a victory that seemed to right its enigmatic season. The Steelers backed it up with a rout of Indianapolis, setting up a showdown with the Ravens.
Things were typically heated. Both sides were called for personal fouls for late hits to the opposing quarterbacks, and the Ravens drew three defensive flags on one play in the second quarter.
Roethlisberger took a shot to the jaw from linebacker Courtney Upshaw that left the quarterback comically stretching his face trying to check for damage.
He could afford to smile after the Steelers bounced back from a rough start.
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.
It hardly mattered by halftime, when the Steelers raced to the locker room with all the momentum as a group of the franchise's best players walked on to the field to toast one of their own.
Greene fought back tears as his No. 75 was taken out of commission for good, a fitting tribute for a player who guided a franchise renaissance during a 13-year career that included four Super Bowl titles.
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.
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