Suisham's FG gives Steelers 3-0 lead over Ravens
PITTSBURGH (AP) Scott Suisham's 45-yard field goal with 1:29 left gave the Pittsburgh Steelers a 3-0 lead over the Baltimore Ravens after the first quarter of their AFC wild-card game Saturday night.
The Steelers twice drove into Baltimore territory in the opening quarter, but were slowed by sacks and had to settle for Suisham's kick to jump ahead of their bitter AFC North rivals.
Pittsburgh and Baltimore, which have developed a healthy hatred for each other over the past 20 years, are meeting for the fourth time in the playoffs.
The Steelers have won all three previous meetings, most recently on Jan. 15, 2011, in a division playoff matchup when Pittsburgh rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit to win 31-24 and eventually get to the Super Bowl.
Pittsburgh dominated the opening 15 minutes, holding the ball for 12:03 to Baltimore's 2:57. But the Ravens defense came up with big plays when it needed to as nose tackle Haloti Ngata and Elvis Dumervil sacked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers are without All-Pro running back and their MVP Le'Veon Bell, who hyperextended his right knee taking a hit last week against Cincinnati and couldn't get healthy enough in time for the game. The loss of Bell he only gained 20 yards rushing in Pittsburgh's 43-23 win over Baltimore on Nov. 2 figured to make Pittsburgh more reliant on Roethlisberger and his passing game.
Ben Tate, who was signed earlier this week, started for Bell and picked up 17 yards on the Steelers' first series. Tate was released earlier this season by both Cleveland and Minnesota, but found himself in the postseason.
After winning the coin toss, the Steelers drove to Baltimore's 34 before they bogged down and had to punt. On their next possession, the Steelers got to the Ravens 20 but Roethlisberger threw an incompletion and Dri Archer was thrown for a 1-yard loss by Terrell Suggs, and Dumervil dropped Roethlisberger for a 6-yard loss.
The Ravens (10-6), appearing in the playoffs for sixth time in seven years under coach John Harbaugh. He was visited before the game by his brother, Jim, San Francisco's former coach who was hired by Michigan this week.
While the Steelers have to compensate without Bell, Baltimore's defense got a boost with the return of Ngata, who was activated Friday after serving a four-game league suspension for taking Adderall and violating the performance-enhancing drug policy. The Ravens went 3-1 without the 340-pound Ngata, but his presence and playoff experience are invaluable.
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