PITTSBURGH (AP) — Terrell Suggs isn’t one to panic. And while it’s hardly time for the outspoken Baltimore Ravens linebacker to declare the defending Super Bowl champions are in trouble, he senses it’s brewing after a 19-16 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday.
“We can’t kid ourselves anymore, we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Suggs said. “We’re used to things going a little different for us, but that being said we’ve got to be able to adjust on the fly and play football.”
The Ravens (3-4) never led while falling below .500 this deep into the season for the first time since 2009. Baltimore recovered to make the postseason that year. They remain confident they can do it again but allow there’s plenty of room for improvement.
“It’s going to be a dog fight just like it always is in this division,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “Cincinnati won today and they probably have a little bit of a stranglehold on it right now, but we haven’t played them yet. We still have a lot of games to go.”
Joe Flacco passed for 215 yards and a touchdown but couldn’t stop the Baltimore from losing for the third time in its last four games. The losses have come by a combined eight points.
“We have a good bunch of guys, but this is the time of year where we have to create our identity,” running back Ray Rice said. “We have to find out who we are as a football team.”
At the moment, the Ravens are reeling. They won in each of their three previous regular season visits to Heinz Field but seemed a half-step behind the Steelers all day until Flacco hit Dallas Clark for a 1-yard score that tied the game with 1:58 to go.
All it did was set the stage for the 28th game-winning drive by Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers (2-4) took over at their own 37 and drove 39 yards to set up Shaun Suisham’s 42-yard field goal at the gun.
Baltimore coach John Harbaugh opted not to call timeout to make Suisham think about the kick, figuring all it would do was help Suisham compose himself.
“I didn’t feel like it would be a smart thing to do because the field was a little ruddy there and it gave them a little more time to prepare,” Harbaugh said.
Roethlisberger completed 17 of 23 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. He hit Antonio Brown twice on Pittsburgh’s final drive, putting Suisham well within range to win it. Running back Le’Veon Bell ran for a season-high 93 yards on 19 carries.
One of the NFL’s best rivalries over the last five years is in the midst of a transition. Bold-faced names Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and James Harrison are gone and at the moment, both teams find themselves looking up in the standings at Cincinnati.
Suggs did his best to insist nothing had changed, though with more than a third of the players in uniform making their debut in the series, there was a general sense of decorum previous meetings lacked.
A sense of inventiveness too, at least by the Steelers. Looking to spark a running game that ranked 31st in the league coming in, Pittsburgh found a variety of ways to get the ball in Bell’s hands, even lining him up in the wildcat formation with Roethlisberger split out as a wide receiver.
Bell churned for 61 yards in the first half alone, higher than any Steelers back produced in an entire game coming in. The variety wasn’t limited to Bell. The Steelers took an early 7-0 lead when Roethlisberger flipped a shovel pass to Heath Miller for a 3-yard touchdown.
The Ravens, who have spent most of the season flip-flopping impressive and inconsistent, looked more like the bunch that struggled against Green Bay and Buffalo than the one that blew out Houston and beat Miami on the road.
Still, Baltimore managed to pull within 10-6 at the half thanks to a rare mistake by Miller. The Pro Bowl tight end fumbled at the Pittsburgh 45 in the final minute of the second quarter and Matt Elam picked it up and returned it seven yards. The miscue gave Flacco enough time to get Baltimore in position for a 38-yard field goal by Justin Tucker.
All it did was set the stage for another taut finish between two teams that view the other as a measuring stick. Each of the last four meetings has been decided by a field goal.
“That’s how these AFC North games go against the Steelers,” said Baltimore wide receiver Tandon Doss.
NOTES: Pittsburgh lost RT Marcus Gilbert with a quadriceps injury in the first quarter … The Ravens called an onside kick in the third quarter trailing 13-9 but were called for two penalties on the play. The Steelers kicked a field goal to push their lead to 16-9.
“We thought we had a great shot at getting it,” Harbaugh said. “Their guy made a nice play there, made a great play.” … The teams meet again in Baltimore on Thanksgiving night.
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