PITTSBURGH | The Steelers were so close to being 4-0 without Ben Roethlisberger. Only close doesn’t count in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry, where every game is tight and no lead is truly safe.
Joe Flacco withstood Pittsburgh’s late go-ahead touchdown and goal-line stand to throw an 18-yard scoring pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with 32 seconds remaining, and the Ravens won 17-14 Sunday to prevent the Steelers from going unbeaten without their suspended quarterback.
“You go and win it on the last drive, there’s no better way to win,” Flacco said. “There’s not too many better ways to win in Pittsburgh.”
A worst-case scenario for the Steelers, Roethlisberger’s four-game suspension, nearly became a perfect one.
The Steelers (3-1) took a 14-10 lead on Rashard Mendenhall’s 7-yard run midway through the fourth quarter, and they appeared to seal it after Flacco twice threw incomplete from their 2 with slightly less than 3 minutes remaining.
Now, instead of being two games down in the AFC North to Pittsburgh with Roethlisberger to go for the rest of the season, the Ravens are tied after winning in Heinz Field for only the second time in 11 games. Tight end Todd Heap called it a “huge win.”
“I think one of reasons why we play so hard here is we hardly win here,” defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said.
For the Steelers, it feels empty. Even without Roethlisberger and his two injured backups, Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon, they were within seconds of being 4-0 for the first time since 1979.
“We fought for perfection,” cornerback Bryant McFadden said. “We tried to get as close to that as possible.
Baltimore appeared to squander its final chance at winning when, after driving from its 30 to the Steelers 2, William Gay knocked away a Flacco pass intended for Boldin on fourth down.
“We put two great drives together at the end of the game,” Flacco said. “We were fortunate to get the ball back.”