Stillers opportunistic in win over Ravens
Since the NFL is not figure skating, style points do not apply. En route to a 9-6 victory over Baltimore in PSINet Stadium, the Stillers were neither pretty nor extremely effective but the box score tells the truth - they won...period! They took advantage of Ravens turnovers and that ended up defining the game's outcome.
Coming into the game, Trent Dilfer was ridiculed by many for making stupid decisions and not getting the job done. This criticism was justified as twice in the first half Dilfer moved his team downfield only to turnover the ball. First, Dilfer coughed up an interception to DeWayne Washington then he later fumbled a snap and fell on the ball only to have Lee Flowers rip the ball free before he gained control. Both defensive plays were tremendous. Washington's interception was an awkward over-the-shoulder catch in the endzone. Flowers' fumble recovery was stabbed away from Dilfer with a single hand. In my mind, these plays tie for the plays of the game - they seemed to be the plays that injected a lack of confidence back into a Ravens offense that was moving the ball well.
Defensively, Pittsburgh was soft in the first half, but was helped by Trent Dilfer's turnovers. They were able to limit Baltimore to two long fields (51 and 49 yards) in the first half though. In the second half, the Pittsburgh D stepped up and prevented the Ravens from putting additional points on the board. Dilfer ended up just 11 of 24 for 152 yards and an interception. On the ground, Jamal Lewis jumped out to nearly 70 first half yards but was limited to 93 for the game. The ability of the defense to adjust at halftime and shutdown the Ravens at home cut the Black 'n Gold offense the slack it needed.
Offensively, the Stillers struggled, but early in the third quarter, they were able advantage of a 14 yard run by Bettis and a 45 yard bomb from Stewart to Ward to put six points on the board and tie the ball game 6-6 (Kris Brown shanked the extra point). Approximately 4 minutes later, the offense put the game away with a field goal after Scott Shields recovered a Corey Harris' fumbled kick return near the Ravens 25 yard line.
Jerome Bettis ended up with a measly 65 yards, but ran the ball only 4 times for 16 yards in the first half. Combined, though, with Huntley (24 yards) and Stewart (31 yards) the team did accumulate 120 yards rushing. In the air, the 45 yard bomb was definitely the highlight - Kordell finished just 9 of 18 for 133 yards BUT no interceptions.
The win over the Ravens was indeed won by the defense. But, I'll reiterate that while this was not a pretty win, it was a win nonetheless. Pittsburgh is now in second place in the AFC Central and Baltimore is not. Stewart is finding a way to win and along the way, the dynamics of the AFC Central have changed. If the Titans lose tonight, Pittsburgh has a shot to tie Tennessee in the wins column next weekend....who have imagined that after an 0-3 start?
Pittsburgh extended the Ravens TD-less streak to 20 quarters...the Stillers defense has now gone 16 quarters without giving up a TD...Jerome Bettis had his streak of 100 yard games stopped at three...Joey Porter continues to play well collecting two more sacks to go with five tackles and two assists - he is now the team sack leader with seven...Dan Kreider proved that he is capable of playing in the NFL having a solid day blocking and actually catching a 14 yard pass during which he bulled a couple Raven defenders.