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Ravens 23, Steelers 20: By the Numbers

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I will leave most of my editorializing out of this post and leave that for later in the day on Monday, but a quick look at some of the telling stats and figures from the Pittsburgh Steelers heartbreaking 23-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the final minutes of Sunday Night Football.

  • 0 - No. of catches for Hines Ward, who left the game after being double-decked by Ray Lewis and another Ravens defender who I can't quite remember at the moment. The zero catches marks the first time Ward has failed to register a catch since the Steelers Week 10 loss to New England in 2010, another game in which he coincidentally was knocked out of on a helmet-to-helmet hit that was not called by the refs.
  • 1 -- No. of 300-yard passing games the Steelers have allowed in 2011. The lone one coming Sunday night by Joe Flacco, who finished with exactly 300 yards on 28-of-47 passing.
  • 2 -- No. of rushing first downs by the Ravens on the night, a nondescript number until you realize they had 23 first downs on the evening, by far the most yielded by the Steelers' defense so far in 2011.
  • 3 -- No. of sacks for James Harrison in his first game back from surgery to repair broken bones near his eye socket. Harrison might have been running on fumes in the game's final moments, but boy was he outstanding for the better part of 60 minutes considering he was far from a lock to even suit up for the pivotal matchup. Harrison forced a fumble that William Gay recovered in the fourth quarter, the first and only turnover the defense created on the evening.
  • 4 -- No. of 10-plus play drives for Baltimore. The Ravens got things started early with a 14-play, 75 yard drive that yielded a field goal after the Steelers stood their ground on the goal line. A 10-play FG drive extended Baltimore's lead to 6-3 in the second quarter, and a 12-play series in the third quarter gave Baltimore its largest lead of the game at 16-6; but it was their final, 13-play march down the field -- 92 yards for those scoring at home -- that won it for the Ravens. 
  • 5 -- No. of receptions Heath Miller has averaged over his past four games. Miller had five receptions -- tied with Antonio Brown for team high -- for 70 yards in the loss.
  • 6 -- No. of penalties Pittsburgh was flagged for, totaling 69 yards of field position for Baltimore. Look, the Steelers probably benefited from a call or two of their own on the evening, but I don't blame those in Steeler Nation who were frustrated by several of the calls made against the Steelers' secondary. As Chris Colinsworth said, and I'm paraphrasing, 'Sometimes I think these two teams wish they could play without officials.'
  • 7 -- Yards per play registered by the Steelers' offense, rounded up actually from 6.8.  The Ravens, meanwhile, averaged 4.6 yards per offense snap on 77 snaps compared to Pittsburgh's 58. Really the Steelers defense deserves some kudos for hanging that tough over the course of 77 snaps. As a point of reference, the Ravens ran just 61 plays in the Week 1 thrashing of Pittsburgh, and that was aided by seven defensive takeaways. Any time you hold your opponent to 4.6 yards per play, you have a great shot at winning. And Pittsburgh did. It just so happens that just about every last one of their positive plays came on third downs to keep the chains moving and the clock ticking.
  • 8 -- No. of sack yards for the Steelers offense. Big Ben was taken down just once on the evening, Sunday night was far and away the best game of the year turned in by the Steelers' offensive line.
  • 9 -- No. of Ravens passing plays that went for 10 or more yards on third down. That's one way to finish 14-of-21 on third down and control the clock for nearly eight minutes more than your opponent. Blame the Steelers defense for some meltdowns on third downs, but give credit to Joe Flacco and the Ravens as well for playing extraordinarily clean football on that pivotal down all evening. Don't discount the fact that James Farrior, the Steelers' undisputed 'quarterback' and communicator on defense pre-snap, was out of the lineup for the first time since the 2005 season.
  • 10 -- No. of wins by each team in the heated rivalry in the past 20 meetings dating back to 2003. Sounds like a legit rivalry to me.