The difference maker in this game? It wasn't having Troy and AB back, or even the lack of defense that Ravens fans claim as their demise. I think it was the attitude from the start. The Steelers came out ready to brawl and brawl they did. Numerous times. Clearly no love lost from the Coaches all the way down to the players. (See the Tomlin/Harbaugh post-game brush off ).
The stats show this game pretty even. And surely those who watched will concur that the game was really good, with no one dominating. It was a nail biter, but isn't that always the case when the Steelers play the Ravens? The biggest improvement since last week. Charlie Batch. Charlie completed 25 of 36 attempts for 276 yards, 1 TD and 1INT. Flacco threw for 188 yards and matched Charlie's 1 TD and 1 INT. Overall offense: Steelers 366 to the Ravens 288. The Steelers only had (and I use only
loosely) 4 penalties for 50 yards. The Ravens had 8 penalties for 70 yards. Even time of possession was pretty even.
Defense has stepped up considerably since the early part of the season. Ike Taylor left the game in the first defensive series and didn't return. But Lewis and Allen held their own. With Troy back in the game, Flacco did feel a little pressure. The Ravens defense did make some mistakes, though the Steelers weren't necessarily able to make them pay for it - they left Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders open several times throughout the game. Charlie overthrew Wallace in the endzone, Sanders fumbled one, and he didn't see Brown. Those kind of mistakes will not be ignored when Ben is back.And speaking of Ben, the rumor is he will play next week against San Diego. Let's all collectively cross our fingers that he's healthy and can return and play hard. We've seen a wildcard run before. It can be done.