Ravens lose composure, can't contain Roethlisberger in 43-23 loss to Steelers

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PITTSBURGH — Terrell Suggs isn't one to get rattled. The Baltimore Ravens linebacker has made a career out of being the one who agitates, not the one who gets agitated.

For a night anyway, the Pittsburgh Steelers found a way to reverse the roles.

Ben Roethlisberger threw six touchdown passes and the Ravens lost their cool in a 43-23 loss on Sunday night. Baltimore turned it over twice, gave up four sacks and was flagged 10 times while losing its second straight.

"We didn't respond well when bad things started to happen," Suggs said. "We've got to be better. We can't be kidding ourselves anymore. We have a lot of work to do."

Better get started soon. The Ravens (5-4) fell into last place in the crowded AFC North with the loss after it failed to sweep the season series from the surging Steelers (6-3), who have won three straight.

"It's frustrating anytime you lose and don't play the way you expect to play, but we've got to get over it and keep working on it," Baltimore wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "Nobody's going to feel sorry for us."

Certainly not Pittsburgh. The Ravens dominated the Steelers 26-6 in Week 2, emerging from a chaotic few days surrounding the release of running back Ray Rice by physically overwhelming the Steelers.

This time, it was the other way around. Joe Flacco threw for 303 yards with two touchdowns and an interception but absorbed a series of shots from a relentless Pittsburgh pass rush.

"They come after you and you have to get the ball in someone's hands," coach John Harbaugh said. "You have to make a play to take them out of it. We didn't do enough to discourage that at all really at any point in the game."

There were no such issues for Roethlisberger.

A week after passing for a franchise-record six touchdowns against Indianapolis, Roethlisberger duplicated the feat to help Pittsburgh (6-3) win its third straight. Roethlisberger's 12 touchdown passes over the last two games broke the mark of 11 set by Tom Flores for Oakland in 1963 and matched by New England's Tom Brady in 2007.

Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for 138 yards and a score. Rookie Martavis Bryant hauled in two scoring receptions and has five touchdowns in three games.

The renewal of one of the NFL's most physical rivalries traded its usual taut, low-scoring style for something decidedly more spectacular but no less physical. When Roethlisberger wasn't dissecting Baltimore's depleted secondary with his expanding number of targets, the teams were trading punches and penalties.

Just not the lead, not after a resurgent Pittsburgh defense gave Roethlisberger all the momentum he would need to continue the finest stretch of his 11-year career.

"We took advantage of turnovers our defense gave us," Roethlisberger said. "We were slow starting but made plays down the stretch."

The Ravens were in front 7-0 midway through the second quarter and the Steelers were sputtering when a little vintage Pittsburgh defense — led by suddenly youthful 36-year-old linebacker James Harrison — turned the tide.

Cornerback Brice McCain raced 26 yards following a Lorenzo Taliaferro fumble to set up a 5-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Le'Veon Bell, and Jason Worilds picked off Flacco and returned it 30 yards to put Roethlisberger in position to find Bryant for a 19-yard score to put the Steelers up 14-7.

The Ravens, playing without injured cornerback Jimmy Smith, simply couldn't keep up. Roethlisberger ended the half with a perfect 47-yard strike to Markus Wheaton.

Even when things went wrong, they went right for Pittsburgh. The Steelers tacked on a 2-point conversion following Wheaton's score when punter Brad Wing made up for a botched hold by scrambling to his right and connecting with tight end Matt Spaeth to make it 22-10 at the break.

Rather than sit on the lead, the Steelers kept attacking. Roethlisberger's 25 completions went to eight different receivers, though he relied on an old one and his new favorite to help the Steelers end a pivotal three-game homestand with a perfect 3-0 record.

Roethlisberger found Brown for a 54-yard catch-and-run early in the fourth quarter to make it 29-10. Jacoby Jones responded with a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but Roethlisberger then hit the 6-foot-4 Bryant for an 18-yard strike and capped another remarkable night with a 33-yard score to Spaeth with 1:51 remaining.

"I guess once you get in the groove it is what it is," Suggs said. "He made some lays. His receivers made some plays for him. He played a phenomenal game."

NOTES: Steelers S Troy Polamalu left with a sprained left knee in the second quarter and did not return. ... Baltimore TE Owen Daniels had six receptions for 53 yards a week after having minor knee surgery. ... Pittsburgh plays at the New York Jets next week while the Ravens host Tennessee.


AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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