In a game marked by the traditional smash-mouth Steeler/Raven rivalry, a Joe Flacco fumble caused by a Troy Polamalu sack proved to be the game-changing moment, giving the Steelers the ball on the Ravens 9-yard line. Three plays later, Ben Roethlisberger connected with third-string running back Isaac Redman for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:51 to play.
Actually, it wasn’t all that simple. On Pittsburgh’s first drive, Roethlisberger’s nose was broken by Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata when Ngata’s hand penetrated the quarterback’s facemask. While the Sunday Night Live commentators refused to state that it was a broken nose, it was fairly clear to America’s audience when the camera showed Roethlisberger walking off the field with blood streaming onto his jersey and his nose skewed to the right. Roethlisberger’s trainers corrected his nose and he went back onto the field for the next series.
However, for three and a half quarters, the ball game was firmly in Ravens hands, with Joe Flacco at the helm on offense and Terrell Suggs leading the Ravens battering session that resulted in Big Ben’s broken nose and injuries to tackle Flozell Adams and tight end Heath Miller. In the first half, Roethlisberger exhibited limited mobility as he seemed to be affected by the walking boot which served to protect his fractured foot. Joe Flacco & Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin seemed to have more chemistry than Roethlisberger and any of the Steelers players as they led a Ravens touchdown drive late in the first quarter. Although it was the longest touchdown drive the Steelers have given up this season, it would prove to be the last for the Ravens, although Boldin finished with five catches for 118 yards and the lone TD.
Flacco had a chance to come back after the Steelers touchdown, but a fourth down pass to Ed Dickson fell short. The Steelers now have a one-game lead over the Ravens for the AFC North, but the Ravens are in solid position for one of the AFC wild-card spots, with a full two-game lead over any other AFC opponent and four games to go before the end of the season.
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