Ravens 16, Steelers 13
-- The Baltimore Ravens have watched Matt Stover do this so many times that they weren't anxious when the veteran placekicker lined up for a 44-yard field goal with 4 minutes 9 seconds left in overtime Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Stover, often the only reliable offensive weapon for the Ravens, calmly converted the kick to give the Ravens a 16-13 victory over their AFC North rival and was swarmed by teammates, who desperately craved a victory.
Stover's field goal, the fourth game-winning overtime kick in his Ravens career, mercifully ended a game that featured nearly 72 minutes of ineffective offensive football in front of 70,601, the largest crowd in Baltimore history -- a large portion of which seemed to be dressed in black and gold.
It also helped the Ravens (3-7) break two streaks: their four-game losing slide, and Pittsburgh's string of 11 consecutive road victories. Earlier in the game, Baltimore scored a touchdown for the first time in 12 quarters.
"We needed a win around here, and the way that we won was a full team effort," Baltimore quarterback Kyle Boller said. "It just feels great."
Neither team seemed capable of winning after Pittsburgh running back Willie Parker caught an 11-yard touchdown pass that tied the score at 13 with 5:15 left in the fourth quarter.
The Ravens had two shots at a potential game-winning drive in regulation, but both stalled when Boller was sacked. Pittsburgh's final drive of the fourth quarter ended with a bizarre interception; wide receiver Hines Ward inadvertently kicked Tommy Maddox's pass into the air, and linebacker Terrell Suggs made a diving grab.
Maddox struggled in place of Ben Roethlisberger, completing 19 of 36 passes for 230 yards. He was sacked six times; defensive end Anthony Weaver got to him twice in overtime, and effectively killed the Steelers' two possessions in OT. Roethlisberger, who missed his third straight game following arthroscopic knee surgery, was in uniform, but Pittsburgh Coach Bill Cowher said that he had no thoughts of replacing Maddox.
"We just tried to bring the heat and make [Maddox] make quick decisions," said linebacker Bart Scott, who was starting his fourth straight game in place of the injured Ray Lewis (thigh).
Boller, who did not play well in last week's loss at Jacksonville, was inconsistent against the Steelers (7-3). He threw his fifth interception of the season, missed open receivers, and was sacked five times. But on the game-winning drive, he completed key passes to Randy Hymes and Todd Heap that moved the ball into Stover's range.
Boller (21 of 36 for 163 yards) also received a lucky break early in the game. On first and goal from the 1-yard line, Boller stumbled and tried to pitch the ball to Jamal Lewis, but the ball bounced off of Lewis's face mask and was recovered by the Steelers. Coach Brian Billick challenged the fumble, and referee Ron Winter ruled that Boller was hit and that his knee was on the ground when he fumbled. Two plays later, Boller tossed the ball to the 6-foot-3 Hymes, a former Grambling basketball player who out-jumped 5-10 cornerback Deshea Townsend.
"I barely caught the ball. I just stuck my hand out and made a hell of a catch," said Hymes.
Billick and his staff decided during the week to rotate Lewis and Chester Taylor and stick with whichever running back was more effective. That was Taylor, who appeared to be more explosive. He gained 59 yards on 19 carries, and his tough 13-yard run -- in which he dragged Pittsburgh's Ike Taylor -- set up Boller's touchdown pass. Taylor also returned three kickoffs for 101 yards.
Lewis, who has yet to have a 100-yard rushing game this season, had 13 carries for 28 yards. He fumbled at the Baltimore 20-yard line, which led to a 37-yard field goal from Pittsburgh's Jeff Reed.
When Lewis returned to the field after the fumble (his fourth of the season), he was booed. Fans cheered when Taylor replaced him two plays later.
"I've been through much worse than that," said Lewis, who spent four months of the offseason in a federal prison after accepting a plea bargain on federal drug conspiracy charges. "That's really nothing."