Penalties and turnovers. That was Baltimore's theme Sunday night against the Steelers.
At key moments in the first half, quarterback Joe Flacco threw an interception and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro lost a fumble. The Ravens, as a team, were flagged for 10 penalties for 108 yards.
In a game the Ravens dominated early, these miscues set them back with the momentum suddenly changing. And from there, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger shredded the Ravens' secondary en route to a 43-23 victory. And to be honest, the score at the end wasn't indicative of how this game played out.
The Ravens (5-4) held a 7-0 lead midway through the second quarter. But after Taliaferro lost his fumble, the Steelers capitalized with Roethlisberger tossing a touchdown to running back Le'Veon Bell at the 7:18 mark. After Flacco threw his interception on the ensuing possession, Roethlisberger found Martavis Bryant for a 19-yard touchdown.
Justin Tucker cut the game to 14-10 with a field goal late in the first half. But Roethlisberger responded with a 47-yard touchdown pass to receiver Markus Wheaton. Pittsburgh (6-3) botched the extra point play but somehow managed to get two points with punter/holder Brad Wing finding tight end Matt Spaeth. At that moment, it just felt this game was out of the Ravens' control.
Roethlisberger continued where he left off last week against the Colts. He completed 25 of 37 passes for 340 yards and six touchdowns against a woeful secondary. That's now 12 touchdowns for Roethlisberger in two weeks. The Ravens' secondary had no answer once Roethlisberger caught fire. And now there's a real concern with the back end, at least for as long as Jimmy Smith is unable to play with his foot injury.
Defensively, it was an embarrassing performance for the Ravens, especially with the entire country watching on Sunday Night Football. For the meantime, the Ravens drop to last place in the AFC North standings. Of course, everybody is right there and the division is still up for grabs between any of the four teams.
The Ravens aren't as bad of a team as they looked Sunday night. They're not as good as performances against the three NFC South teams made them look either. The optimism that surrounded this team just three weeks ago has suddenly waned with what's transpired against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh over the past two weeks.
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