- Associated Press - Sunday, November 18, 2012

PITTSBURGH — It really doesn’t matter to the Baltimore Ravens who starts at quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the mission remains the same.

So do the results.

While injured starter Ben Roethlisberger watched from the sideline, Baltimore pounded backup Byron Leftwich during a 13-10 victory on Sunday night that put the Ravens in complete control of the AFC North.

The Ravens (8-2) sacked Leftwich three times, intercepted him once and sent him crumbling to the Heinz Field turf on a handful of occasions as Baltimore built a two-game lead over the Steelers (6-4) heading into the season’s final six weeks.


“We took the mentality as a team that we’re going into a fistfight,” Baltimore safety James Ihedigbo said.

And the Ravens have no trouble brawling. On a night the offense could get little going against the NFL’s No. 1 defense, Jacoby Jones returned a punt for a touchdown and Justin Tucker kicked two field goals to help the Ravens win their 12th straight game in the division.

Three of those victories have come at Heinz Field, one of the most difficult places to play in the NFL. Still, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh wasn’t exactly in the mood to declare the division race over.

“It’s like halftime,” Harbaugh said. “It’s like we won the first half and the second half is coming up.”

The Steelers certainly hope it goes a little better than the first.

Leftwich, making his first start in more than three years, completed 18 of 39 passes for 201 yards and an interception. He spent much of the second half slowly picking himself up off the grass and was checked for a rib injury after taking a nasty shot from Ihedbigo late in the fourth quarter.

Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin sent the 32-year-old veteran out for one last-gasp drive, but it ended in chaos as the Steelers‘ four-game winning streak came to an ugly end. Pittsburgh is 0-5 against the Ravens since 2005 when Roethlisberger doesn’t play.

“We didn’t find a significant play, particularly in the waning moments and in any of the three phrases to be the difference,” Tomlin said. “We accept responsibility for our performance, but we also tip our hat to those guys. They did enough to win the football game.”

Even if the Ravens didn’t do it with offense.

Joe Flacco wasn’t much better than Leftwich, completing 20 of 32 passes for 164 yards. Running back Ray Rice managed just 40 yards on 20 carries, forcing the Ravens to rely on an old standby make the difference.

Typically, that’s not a problem. But this is not a typical year in Baltimore.

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