The Pittsburgh Steelers finally got their offense running. The wait continues for the Baltimore Ravens.
Le’Veon Bell rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries and added 42 receiving yards as the Steelers dominated the Ravens, winning easily by a score of 26-9 in an early matchup for first place in the AFC North. It was the first time since 2012 the Steelers won on the road against their division rival, and for the second consecutive week, the Ravens were held to under 10 points.
Coming into the game, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was asked to identify the problem with a Pittsburgh offense that had accounted for only six touchdowns in the first three games of the season.
“The quarterback needs to play better,” he said.
Roethlisberger completed 18 out of 30 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown. And combined with the strong effort from Bell, who finally looked like his usual self after missing all of training camp and preseason due to a contract dispute and struggling to get on track during the first three weeks, the entire Steelers offense looked solid, amassing 381 total yards and controlling the ball for over 35 minutes.
The Pittsburgh defense proved just as strong, with back-to-back interceptions in the fourth quarter to seal the contest.
The Ravens, meanwhile, looked every bit like the lowest-ranked offense in the NFL. Appearing completely overmatched, Baltimore trailed 19-0 at halftime, generated only 154 yards through three quarters and stumbled through a second straight game with only one touchdown.
Flacco finished 31-of-49 for 235 yards with the two fourth quarter interceptions as the Ravens fell out of first place in the North. This comes after he was held to a career-worst 28 yards passing last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“I sucked,” Flacco said. “It wasn’t good.”
The game was not short on drama, though.
Frustrations boiled over, surprisingly enough, on the Steelers sideline in the second quarter.
With just over 12 minutes remaining before intermission, the Steelers had the ball and were facing a third down from their own 36. Superstar wide receiver, Antonio Brown faked a crossing route, then went deep to a wide-open stretch of grass. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t see Brown and threw an incompletion I the flat to running back Le’Veon Bell instead.
Getting the ball after getting open deep downfield, Brown explained to reporters after the game, was the gift he wanted to unwrap early in the second quarter.
“You work on it, you’re expecting that play on that day. Sometimes, it doesn’t work out and you move on.”
Brown threw his hands up after the play then knocked the Gatorade can to the ground and shrugged off offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who tried to get him to calm down.
Roethlisberger targeted Brown on the next play, an incompletion. Brown finished the game with 34 yards on four catches. He had entered the game leading the league in receiving yards with a total of 354 through the first three games.
“I’m passionate about the game. Any time you work as hard, and you expect something out of the play and it doesn’t go the way you wanted, you get a little frustrated.”
Several Steelers players defended Brown’s passion, saying he’s not a distraction to the team. Guard Ramon Foster said he spoke to Brown after the flare-up and assured him that the plays will come.
Roethlisberger acknowledged that not every playmaker will be happy each week.
“That’s just nothing more than a competitor wanting the ball every single play,” Roethlisberger said. “You can’t blame him.”
[Featured Image by Gail Burton/AP Images]