Bell, Steelers have their way in rout of Ravens
BALTIMORE — The Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled to win games in Baltimore for the past several years.
This time, the Steelers took control early and kept their AFC North rival reeling.
Le’Veon Bell ran for 144 yards with two touchdowns and Pittsburgh took over sole possession of first place in the division with 26-9 victory over the Ravens on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
“We have some work ahead of us, but man, it’s great to enjoy this victory in a hostile environment,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. “AFC North football; I thought our guys responded in the appropriate way.”
Bell carried the ball 35 times, the most by a Ravens opponent since 2003, and also caught four passes for 42 yards. Pittsburgh (3-1) won in Baltimore (2-2) for the first time since 2012.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 18 of 30 passes for 216 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Pittsburgh was 7 of 13 on third-down conversions.
Still, Roethlisberger sees room for more improvement.
“I still feel I personally didn’t make all the plays,” Roethlisberger said. “My goal this week was to take what they give us, don’t turn the ball over, and punting isn’t a bad thing. And I thought we did a pretty good job of that.”
Baltimore running back Alex Collins had 82 yards on nine carries, including a 50-yard scamper midway through the third quarter that helped set up the Ravens for their lone touchdown.
Baltimore cut the lead to 19-9 on a 16-yard pass from Joe Flacco to Mike Wallace. Running back Terrance West was ruled down on an attempted two-point conversion after a review.
Flacco’s second interception of the day set up a 1-yard touchdown by Bell that gave Pittsburgh a 26-9 lead with 2:26 left in the game.
Flacco was 31 of 49 for 235 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He has thrown a pick in 10 consecutive games, the longest streak in the NFL. Flacco was also sacked four times.
“I sucked,” Flacco said. “It wasn’t good. We have to be better early in games. I wasn’t good enough to get us back in the game.”
Wallace caught six passes for 55 yards against his former team. It was the second straight loss for the Ravens, who were blown out by Jacksonville 44-7 last week in London.
“You can get frustrated all you want,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “You can kick over trash cans if you want, but it’s not going to make you better.
“We have to work. We have good guys that work hard and can find a way to improve. We’ve been worse than 2-2 before and come back and gone to the AFC championship. So that’s what you do.”
The Steelers put together an impressive 16-play, 84-yard drive on their first possession that took 10:23. However, they had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Chris Boswell.
A fumble by Collins gave the Steelers the ball on the Baltimore 28. That set up a 1-yard score by Bell that boosted the lead to 13-0 with 3:24 left in the second quarter.
Flacco managed just 3.5 yards per pass attempt in the first half.
Pittsburgh took a 19-0 lead into halftime on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to rookie receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Entering the game, the Steelers had scored just six offensive touchdowns in the past 12 quarters. A lot of the issues — careless penalties and turnovers — were corrected against Baltimore.
“Not a perfect game, but a great team effort by us,” Tomlin said. “We’re moving in the right directions in a lot of areas: run game development, taking care of the football.”
NOTES: The Ravens were booed as they knelt in prayer before the national anthem. Players for both teams stood for the song. ... Ravens TE Benjamin Watson was under concussion protocol late in the second quarter. but was cleared to return. Fellow TE Maxx Williams was out with an ankle injury. ... Steelers LB James Harrison was inactive because of an illness. ... Baltimore LB Terrell Suggs came out of the pregame tunnel wearing a Bane mask from the movie “Batman.”