Bell Carries Steelers to Win in Baltimore

By Ryan Gojich

Falling short of a goal, failure, is a part of the human condition that we all encounter at some point in our lives. Character is never revealed by failing, it is instead displayed in how one responds to that shortcoming. On Sunday, in a familiar foes inhospitable house, the Steelers shined bright in this regard.

The Ravens opened the game with a off tackle run that gashed the defense for 23 yards. I cannot believe my living room was the only one that felt the woes from last week suddenly resurface with stinging vengeance! The defense would clamp down for the rest of the drive and force Sam Koch to punt the ball away 6 plays later.

The Steelers offense could have begun their day with only two worse places to start, as the Ravens punt gave them possession on their 3 yard line. The offense was determined they’d set the tempo of this game however. They put up an impressive, 16 play drive that ate up a NFL season high 10:23, resulting in a Chris Boswell 30 yard field goal. The drive was highlighted by James Connor’s 23 yard dash off tackle.

The teams would trade three and outs with the Steelers maintaining an advantage of field position. The offenses third series would enjoy a more advantageous starting position as a result. The offense was able to take advantage of starting at the Baltimore 46. They put together a 9 play drive that was extended on 3rd and 7 when JuJu Smith-Schuster flashed some speed on a 19 yard reception. Things would get chippy on the following play and Alejandro Vilanueva was flagged for 15 yards for unnecessary roughness. Two missed deep balls later and Boswell nailed his second field goal of the game, this one from 49 yards, to give the Steelers a 6-0 advantage.

Cameron Heyward was disruptive in every aspect of the game. That was on full display on the Ravens next possession. Ravens running back Alex Collins took a hand off left of Joe Flacco. Ryan Shazier shot the hole forcing Collins into Heyward, who stripped him of possession of the pigskin and fell onto it at the Baltimore 28.

The offense needed only 6 plays to extend the lead. Jesse James helped keep the drive alive on a 2nd and 15 when he took a pass for 18 yards to the Baltimore 14. Looking for his first professional touchdown, James Conner added a 7 yard run to take the Steelers to the Baltimore 7. Two plays later Bell punched the ball into the end zone from the 1 to cap the 6 play drive and expand the Steelers lead to 13-0.

The defense forced another Ravens three and out and with 2:13 left in half the Steelers started with the ball at their 30 yard line not satisfied with the 13 point lead they went to work. Ben Roethlisberger found Martavis Bryant three separate times on the drive, totaling 58 yards. Bryant’s third catch would put them on the Baltimore 11 yard line. From there Smith-Schuster would work to get open when the play broke down and find the end zone. The six points from the touchdown put the score at 19-0. The Steelers would attempt a two point conversion that was unsuccessful.

Coming out of the break, the Steelers offense had a feel of trying to run out the clock. Snapping the ball inside of the play clock’s 5 seconds and a heavy steady dose of Bell who finished with 35 totes. On the opening series of the half, on 3rd and 6, Roethlisberger completed a pass for no gain to Brown. Baltimore challenged the ruling on the field, saying Brown never possessed the ball. Therefore was not down and since the ball never touched the ground and ended up in Eric Weddle’s hands, was actually intercepted.

The officials agreed and Baltimore was awarded possession at the Steelers 18. The defense stood tall and sacked Flacco on third down. That was followed by Justin Tucker connecting for a 44 yard field goal to put the Ravens on the board but still down 19-3.

After Boswell’s missed 44 yard field goal attempt, on the Steelers following possession, the Ravens found life thanks to a 50 yard run from Collins. That play took the ball all the way to the Steelers 16 yard line and two plays later Flacco found former Steelers Mike Wallace for a touchdown that pulled the game closer, 19-9. The Ravens went for the two point conversion and it appeared Terrance West crossed the goal line. However following a review it was reversed and the score stay 19-9 Steelers with 6:02 left to play in the third quarter.

From here the defense would have the chance to close the game out, as the offense continually sputtered and didn’t find much success. The defense was certainly up to the task. Giving up only 9 more yards on the ground. They pressured and harrassed Flacco, with Heyward registering a sack and Stephon Tuitt and Bud Dupree splitting one. Shazier could be seen showcasing his speed sideline to side line finishing with 11 tackles, 10 of the solo variety. He added an interception as well, on a briliant diagnoses of the play, that screamed football IQ. Shazier factored into the closing of the game in a big way as well, when he dropped into coverage and tipped a Flacco pass at the peak of his leap. The ball fluttered into the hands of Mike Hilton for his first career interception. That was the second first of Hilton’s career as he had added a Flacco sack to his stat line earlier in the game.

Hilton’s interception came at the 5:37 mark of the fourth quarter and with possession at the Baltimore 49, the offense smelled blood. They would put together a 7 play drive that saw Bell’s trademark patient running style, highlighted on 21 yard run off Villanueva’s back side. After draining the clock down to 2:26 Bell plunged ahead on a 1 yard dive, for his second touchdown run of the day, plunging the fatal dagger into the heart of charm city.

Character was revealed Sunday afternoon and the Steelers left no doubt what theirs can be said to say. They also reminded the Ravens, although the calendar year has changed, they still run the North.


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