PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Steelers finally won the kind
of close game they've been losing at home all season. The problem
was it wasn't supposed to be nearly this difficult, not against a
depleted Ravens team whose season already seems to be fading away.
Jeff Reed kicked a 37-yard field goal with 1:36 remaining after
Ben Roethlisberger opened each half with touchdown passes to rookie
tight end Heath Miller, and the Steelers held off the
injury-weakened Ravens 20-19 Monday night to tighten up the AFC
But only with a sigh of relief did Pittsburgh (5-2) stay within
a half-game of division leader Cincinnati. The Ravens (2-5) were
without the last two NFL Defensive Players of the Year, Ray Lewis
and Ed Reed, and, seemingly, much chance of ending what now is a
seven-game road losing streak, but nearly pulled out a game it
seemed only they thought they had a chance to win.
"But our players know," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said.
"This is still Baltimore. They still have some good players, and
their coach challenged them and they responded."
The Ravens, two-touchdown underdogs, took a 19-17 lead after an
uncharacteristic botched play by Pittsburgh's special teams, a
failed punt attempt in which rookie Greg Warren's snap to Chris
Gardocki deflected off upback Sean Morey and resulted in Gardocki's
"It's a first," Cowher said, saying Warren mistakenly snapped
the ball early. "But we were holding them to field goals rather
than touchdowns and got a chance to win it in the end."
Thanks to the mixup, the Ravens got the ball at the Steelers 45
with 5½ minutes to play and a chance to steal a victory in a
stadium where they haven't won since 2001. Matt Stover followed
with his fourth field goal, a 47-yarder with 3:21 remaining that
gave the Ravens their first lead -- and, to the crowd of 64,178,
brought back unpleasant memories of a 23-17 overtime loss to
Jacksonville and a last-play 23-20 loss to New England at Heinz
Field earlier this season.
"I looked at Ben and said, `This is what it's all about,"
Cowher said. "He kind of smiled and has a look of confidence about
Roethlisberger (18-of-30, 177 yards, one interception) then hit
Antwaan Randle El for 14 yards and Quincy Morgan for 23 yards, and
Jerome Bettis had an 11-yard run on the 60-yard drive that led to
Reed's go-ahead field goal.
Baltimore had one more chance to win it, but Anthony Wright's
fourth-and-6 pass from his own 47 fell at Chester Taylor's feet and
the Steelers ran out the clock. Wright was 25-of-44 for 252 yards
and two interceptions as running back Jamal Lewis, a 2,000-yard
back two years ago, was held below 100 yards for the seventh
"I defy anybody to show me one frame of film that doesn't show
us playing as hard as we could," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.
"This group of guys had a lot of circumstances working against
them, but they almost beat one of the best teams in the league."
The Steelers are 11-0 in Monday night home games under Cowher
and Roethlisberger, who was hit on the right knee during the first
half and seemed to be bothered the rest of the game, is 18-1 as a
"I caught a cleat," Roethlisberger said. "They're going to
take a look at it tomorrow and, hopefully, it will be nothing."
Baltimore seemed to be in trouble at the start as the Steelers
drove 79 yards on their opening possession to take a 7-0 lead on
Miller's 4-yard touchdown catch. Baltimore, winless on the road for
350 days, couldn't have liked this, down 7-0 away from home against
their biggest rivals before an offense that hadn't scored a
touchdown in seven quarters got the ball.
But a pregame pep talk from owner Steve Bisciotti was credited
by the players as helping them think they could win.
"I think that got us all pumped up," linebacker Bart Scott
said. "He wanted to win as much as anybody in the locker room. We
were missing some pretty big guys, but I think we did a darned good
job against them."
The Ravens matched the Steelers by driving 73 yards to tie it on
Wright's 13-yard TD swing pass to Taylor on a third-and-12 play.
Reed (42 yards) and Stover (22 yards) later traded field goals
that followed turnovers to tie it at 10 at the half. Jamal Lewis
fumbled after Roethlisberger pinned the Ravens back at their 1 with
a quick kick -- a play the Steelers have revived from the 1920s --
but Roethlisberger later was intercepted for only the second time
this season, by Adalius Thomas.
The Ravens could have had a touchdown rather than the field
goal, but Wright didn't see a wide-open Derrick Mason in the end
zone on a third-and-4 play. Mason waved his arms at the quarterback
in frustration, angering Wright, and the two exchanged words as
they left the field ahead of Stover's field goal.
Stover later missed a 43-yarder off the right upright that would
have put Baltimore up. The Steelers then came out and started the
second half exactly the way they did the first, with Roethlisberger
going 6-of-6 on a 64-yard drive that again ended with Miller's
8-yard TD catch. Miller, the Steelers' first round draft pick, has
six touchdowns in his first seven NFL games.
Stover later made a 43-yarder, then hit a 49-yarder -- the
longest at Heinz Field -- midway through the fourth quarter to get
the Ravens to 17-16.
"It's not the way we wanted to play this game, but when you're
playing a divisional opponent and a tough opponent, you take what
you can get," Steelers linebacker Joey Porter said.
A week after rushing for 221 yards against Cincinnati, the
Steelers were held to 101 yards, with Willie Parker getting 63 on
14 carries. ... Pittsburgh hasn't lost a Monday night home game
since 1991. ... Stover went 4-for-5 in a stadium where visiting
kickers had made only 67 percent of their attempts. ... Baltimore
had scored only 22 points in its previous two games. ... The
Steelers had dropped three of four at home dating to the AFC title
game in January. ... Lewis (61 yards) has been held below 70 yards
in five of seven games against Pittsburgh.
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In thanking fans for their support over his nine-year career, ex-Bills running back Fred Jackson also took a parting shot at general manager Doug Whaley in an interview with The Buffalo News.
According to Russell Wilson, it wasn't until an April trip to Hawaii that Seahawks players finally put last season's Super Bowl loss behind them.
Texans owner Bob McNair said J.J. Watt would not have destroyed his cell phone if he faced the same situation as the Patriots' Tom Brady had with his dispute with the NFL over deflated footballs.
Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas will have surgery on Wednesday to repair ligament damage in his right hand.
Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel says he's had to manage elbow soreness since his freshman year in college, and that he does not need surgery.