Ryan Mallett leads Ravens to victory over Steelers

Never underestimate a rival. Despite their first losing season since 2007, the Baltimore Ravens (5-10), with Ryan Mallett under center, beat the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6) for the second time this season. The 20-17 loss put the Steelers' playoff plans in jeopardy. Here is what you need to know:

  1. The loss puts a huge dent in the Steelers' playoff hopes. Pittsburgh controlled their own path to the playoffs entering Sunday, but the loss puts the New York Jets (10-5) in the driver seat for the final wild card spot. Pittsburgh now needs a win over the Cleveland Browns, coupled with a Jets' loss to the Buffalo Bills to hop back into the playoffs. The Steelers were considered a scary team that most wouldn't want to face in the playoffs. They need help to make it first.
  1. Just 12 days after signing in Baltimore, Ryan Mallett played his best game as a pro, throwing for a career high 274 yards on 28-of-41 passing and a touchdown. Credit Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman for concocting a game plan that tailored to Mallett's big arm, asking the quarterback to make quick throws up the seam or to the sideline. Mallett wasn't required to make many touch throws, a noted weakness in his game. Instead Trestman utilized a balanced attack and allowed Mallett to fire darts. This is the type of game talent evaluators see when they drool over the quarterback's positive traits.
  1. Ben Roethlisberger did not play well. The Steelers came out running early in the first half with the Ravens playing their safeties deep, daring Pittsburgh to patiently run the ball. Big Ben had just 12 passing attempts in the first half (completing just seven for 66 yards). In the second half, Pittsburgh scrapped that plan and went pass heavy. Big Ben ended 23-of-33 passing for 227 yards, his lowest yardage total of the season in a game he's started and finished -- he entered the contest averaging 336.9 pass yards per game. Roethlisberger was off target much of the day and forced several passes that his receivers couldn't snag. His two interceptions killed Steelers momentum in each half -- he also had a 100-yard pick-six negated by a Ravens penalty. It was Big Ben's worst game of the season at the worst time.
  1. Pittsburgh's defense didn't fare much better, allowing a rag-tag group of receivers and a quarterback who hadn't been in the building a fortnight to find space all game with little pressure. The Ravens were also able to run right at the Steelers' defensive front. Buck Allen gashed Pittsburgh up the gut in the fourth quarter milking the clock. When you are making Terrance West look good for stretches your defense has problems.
  1. Sunday's loss snapped a streak of six straight games with 30-points scored for the Steelers. Part of the issue was the Ravens holding the ball, especially early in the first half. At one point, Baltimore ran 23 more plays than Pittsburgh. Another issue was Pittsburgh's inability to sustain drives. The Steelers were 2-for-8 on third down and 0-for-2 on fourth -- including one missed fourth-down conversion on the opening drive, when they were in field-goal range.
  1. The first time the Ravens beat the Steelers this season, Antonio Brown's five-catch, 42-yard performance was blamed on Mike Vick. Sunday the Pro Bowler was held to seven grabs for 68 yard on 11 targets with Big Ben under center.
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