Steelers defense finally falters as Joe Flacco steps up for Ravens

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 03: Anquan Boldin  of the Baltimore Ravens runs after a catch in front of Bryant McFadden  of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on October 3, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

If you had gotten Mike Tomlin liquored up before the season started and asked him if he would take a 3-1 record without Ben Roethlisberger, it’s highly unlikely that he would have responded with a “no.” He may have even admitted that he would have taken a split without his starting quarterback.

But considering his Steelers were so close to a 4-0 start, he must be disappointed today.

For three weeks, Pittsburgh’s defense had played better than any unit in the league. But on Sunday against the Ravens, their secondary cracked late and Baltimore was able to steal a 17-14 victory in the final minutes.

I’ll be honest, after Joe Flacco threw that lame excuse for a pass to Anquan Boldin on a 4th and goal with just under three minutes remaining (the one that had little to no chance of being caught by Boldin), I thought the game was over. But the Steelers couldn’t kill the rest of the clock and when Flacco got a second chance to lead his team to victory, he didn’t falter.

Flacco completed all four of his pass attempts for 40 yards on the Ravens’ final drive, which ended with a T.J. Houshmandzadeh 18-yard touchdown reception with roughly 30 seconds remaining. Flacco shredded Pittsburgh’s secondary, which failed to cover a couple sideline routes and then allowed Houshmandzadeh to get behind them on the final play. Pundits said before the season started that the secondary was the Steelers’ biggest weakness (save for Troy Polamalu, of course) and it showed today.

But give credit to Flacco. All three of the Ravens’ running backs were banged up and the third-year quarterback stepped up when he had to. There hasn’t been one quarterback (that includes Matt Ryan and Vince Young) who has looked good against Pittsburgh’s defense this year, but Flacco managed to.

Now that Big Ben is set to return next week, it’s going to be fun watching the Steelers and Ravens battle it out in the AFC North.

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