PITTSBURGH - Jeff Reed kicked a 46-yard field goal in overtime and the Pittsburgh Steelers overcame a 10-point deficit, numerous injuries and a late Baltimore comeback to outlast the Ravens 23-20 on Monday night.
Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Jeff Reed, right, kicks the game-winning field goal out of the hold by Mitch Berger in overtime against the Baltimore Ravens in an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008. The Steelers won 23-20.
(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Reed's third field goal ended a back-and-forth game in which the Steelers (3-1) were down by 10 late in the third quarter, rallied but couldn't hold a seven-point lead, then found a way to win despite being without their top three running backs.
Pittsburgh came back to win despite losing two players to season-ending injuries, running back and first-round draft pick Rashard Mendenhall (fractured shoulder) and right guard Kendall Simmons (right Achilles). Both will be placed on injured reserve, coach Mike Tomlin said.
The Ravens (2-1), losing for the seventh time in their last eight games in Pittsburgh and falling out of the AFC North lead, won the important overtime coin toss but were backed up by two penalties and a sack and Sam Koch had to punt out of the end zone.
Then, on third-and-8, Ben Roethlisberger found fourth-string running back Mewelde Moore — playing only because of the injuries — on a key 24-yard swing pass for a first down at the Ravens' 31. On third-and-14, Moore made a 7-yard catch to the 28 to give Reed the extra yardage he needed to make it.
"That was important — a 46-yarder there isn't a given, and a 53-yarder isn't easy," Reed said. "I get too much credit. My foot won it, but that's what I'm supposed to do in that situation."
Moore said, "Coach Tomlin told me when I came here I'd be his minute man, that I had to be ready on a minute's notice. Everything he said held true."
The Steelers turned the 10-point deficit into a 17-13 lead in a 15-second span in the third quarter, only to have rookie quarterback Joe Flacco of the Ravens hit Derrick Mason for 35 yards ahead of Le'Ron McClain's 2-yard TD run that tied it at 20 with 4:02 remaining.
Before then, Pittsburgh appeared to have overcome three mostly dreadful quarters in a momentum-turning span of three plays, and Reed added a 19-yard field goal to make it 20-13.
The Steelers, booed by their own fans while held without a touchdown for eight quarters since the second period of a 10-6 win in Cleveland on Sept. 14, finally awoke late in the third by going to a no-huddle offense with Roethlisberger lined up in a shotgun formation.
They resorted to the no-huddle almost by necessity, with Mendenhall out and Pro Bowl runner Willie Parker (knee) not in uniform.
With only one first down since the first quarter, the Steelers got a second when Baltimore's Jarret Johnson unwisely drew a personal foul penalty for an out-of-bounds hit following Nate Washington's 8-yard run. With his best field position since the first quarter, Roethlisberger — sacked and harassed by Baltimore's defense most of the game — found Santonio Holmes for a 38-yard touchdown pass three plays later on a third-and-4. Roethlisberger was 14-of-24 for 191 yards and was sacked three times.
On Baltimore's next play after the kickoff, Flacco — who had impeccably managed the game until then in only his third career start — fumbled while being sacked by James Harrison, Woodley scooped up the ball and scored from the 7, after initially attempting to fall on the ball.
"Then I remembered it wasn't college and I could run, and I don't have a lot of speed but I got in there," Woodley said.
Flacco, who was 16-of-31 for 192 yards, said, "I'm proud of the way we came back and tied the game up. I thought we did a good job of weathering what they threw at us. But I've got to take care of the ball."
Until that turnaround sequence, the Steelers' offensive malaise carried over from a dreary 15-6 loss in Philadelphia in which Roethlisberger was sacked eight times, threw an interception, lost a fumble and was dropped for a safety.
"We're resilient," Steelers receiver Hines Ward said. "There was no finger-pointing when we fell behind. We stayed together. I can't say enough about that group of running backs."
This time, the Steelers drove for Reed's 49-yard field goal on their opening possession, then could barely gain a yard until late in the third. Baltimore, beaten 38-7 in Pittsburgh last season, answered with field goals by Matt Stover of 33 and 20 yards before making it 13-3 on Flacco's first career TD pass, a 4-yarder to Daniel Wilcox with 17 seconds left before halftime.
Flacco, outplaying Roethlisberger for much of the game, set up the score with completions of 13 yards to Mason and 25 to McClain, who was in the game because starter Willis McGahee hurt his chest earlier in the 56-yard drive.
In a game filled with injuries, the Steelers also lost backup running back Carey Davis (ankle) and backup linebacker Andre Frazier, who was carted off the field on a stretcher with a spinal injury after being blocked by Haruki Nakamura during the opening kickoff. Frazier was immobilized before leaving the field, but appeared to be fine after the game.
Pittsburgh won its 14th consecutive Monday night home game, a streak that dates to a 1991 loss to the New York Giants at Three Rivers Stadium.