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The defense, which returned all 11 starters from a unit that led the league in points against a year ago, let Baltimore do whatever it wanted whenever it wanted.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who’d never beaten the Steelers when Roethlisberger was in the lineup, threw for 224 yards and three touchdowns. Rice, who managed a total of 84 yards in three games against Pittsburgh last year, ripped off a 36-yard on Baltimore’s first snap and never looked back.

Harrison, who left the game with a knee contusion, posted on his Facebook page “That’s what you call getting beat like you stole something!!!!”

The Steelers are hoping to steal back momentum next week against the Seahawks, who hardly looked like world beaters in a loss to San Francisco yesterday.

They may have to do it without Colon, who is dealing with a triceps injury and could be out the rest of the season. The team re-signed Colon to a five-year, $29 million deal in July and Colon had a solid camp before apparently suffering the injury late in the second half against the Ravens.

If Colon misses the entire season, it could throw the line into more upheaval. The team cut veterans Flozell Adams and Max Starks before camp started to save money against the salary cap before signing Trai Essex a few weeks ago. Colon was supposed to be a calming presence on a unit that has struggled at times. It’s uncertain how the group would look.

The defense, save for a leg contusion suffered by Harrison, is healthy and Tomlin brushed off any suggestion that his group of 30-something defenders have lost a step.

“I’m not ready to judge it from a speed standpoint,” he said. “We didn’t turn around enough ball carriers. We didn’t get off well enough on third down. We didn’t create turnovers … Usually speed is a part of that equation but I’m not ready to say that at this juncture.”

What he is ready to say is that his team needs to get better quickly. The Ravens sent a loud message that they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. The Steelers can’t let their rivals become a distant speck on the horizon.

The benefit of being a veteran team, however, is that panic doesn’t come easy. Sure, Pittsburgh knows it needed to play better and yes, the team hardly looked like the one that dominated the Ravens so thoroughly a year ago.

It was still just one week. There are 15 more to come.

“Coming into this game, we thought our offense was better than what it was,” Roethlisberger said. “This gives us a chance to regroup and get ready for next week. I just think this was a bump in the road.”