Ravens

Quick Links

Batch, Steelers stun Ravens 23-20

201212021542565692842-p2.jpeg

Batch, Steelers stun Ravens 23-20

BALTIMORE (AP) If Charlie Batch doesn't start another game for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season, the 37-year-old quarterback can take solace in knowing he went out on a decidedly high note.

And if Ben Roethlisberger isn't healthy enough to reclaim the starting job this week, Batch will be delighted to build on his memorable performance Sunday in a 23-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

With the Steelers facing elimination in the AFC North and trying to avoid slipping to .500, Batch rallied Pittsburgh to an uplifting win over a hated rival. Batch went 25 for 36 for 276 yards and directed a 61-yard drive in the closing minutes to set up Shaun Suisham's 42-yard field goal as time expired.

Roethlisberger has missed three straight games with shoulder and rib injuries, and Batch took over after Byron Leftwich was injured against Baltimore two weeks ago. Roethlisberger is working his way back into form, which means Sunday's game against the Ravens could be Batch's last start this season.

Maybe ever.

``Every game that I go out there, I look at it that way,'' he acknowledged. ``A lot of other people were starting to make a little more of it than maybe what it was.''

If nothing else, it was a redemptive performance. Batch threw three interceptions one week earlier in a loss to Cleveland, and the Steelers committed eight turnovers overall.

``I wanted this opportunity because I played poorly last week,'' he said. ``I wanted an opportunity to come out here and lead this team.''

With Batch leading the way, the Steelers (7-5) kept alive their slim hopes of winning the AFC North and enhanced their playoff chances. Pittsburgh also ended Baltimore's 15-game home winning streak.

``To be able to go on the road and do something that nobody outside of our locker room thought that we could do is big,'' Batch said.

The Ravens (9-3) and Steelers split two games this season, with each winning by three points. Seven of the last eight regular-season games between the teams have been decided by that same margin.

``That was a typical Pittsburgh-Baltimore game,'' Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. ``It's amazing how it works out that way.''

Pittsburgh trailed 13-3 in the first half and 20-13 in the fourth quarter before coming back. Batch missed a wide-open Mike Wallace in the end zone near the conclusion of the first half, but the cagey quarterback more than made up for it after halftime.

The Ravens could have clinched a playoff berth with a victory. Instead, Baltimore had its 12-game winning streak against division foes came to end.

Asked if it was a shock to get beat by the seldom-used Batch, Ravens safety Ed Reed said, ``It's not surprising at all.''

Then he added, ``Maybe a little bit.''

Batch outplayed Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, who went 16 for 34 for 188 yards and fueled Pittsburgh's comeback by losing a fumble in the fourth quarter.

``I think we missed a couple of opportunities early to really take a hold of this game even more,'' Flacco said. ``I thought we could have put up 30 or 40 points today and we didn't. I think that's a reflection that we hurt ourselves.''

The Steelers gave the ball away three times. The Ravens converted two of the takeaways into touchdowns, and the third - a leaping interception by Reed in the end zone - kept a 20-13 lead intact with 10:59 left.

Pittsburgh got the ball back, however, when James Harrison forced a fumble by Flacco at the 27.

``Guy came around hit my wrist and hit the ball and just got it out,'' Flacco said. ``I wish I could have held on but wasn't able to.''

Batch threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Heath Miller to tie it with 7:24 to go.

The next time Pittsburgh got the ball back, Batch showed his poise with a beat-the-clock march. The key play in the final drive was a 15-yard completion to Wallace on a third-and-7.

After generating only 93 yards in offense in the first half, the Steelers opened the third quarter with a 78-yard touchdown drive to pull even at 13. Batch threw a 43-yard pass to Miller before Jonathan Dwyer scored on a 16-yard run.

Later in the quarter, Batch connected with Emmanuel Sanders near midfield with no defender in sight. But Sanders inexplicably lost his grip on the football after taking two steps, and the Ravens recovered on the Baltimore 37.

The Ravens turned the miscue into a 20-13 lead. Flacco completed a 19-yard pass to Dennis Pitta before Ray Rice took a handoff, veered right, then broke left and outside for a 34-yard score.

NOTES: Pittsburgh CB Ike Taylor hurt his right ankle in the first quarter and did not return. ... Tomlin said FB Will Johnson ``probably has a concussion.'' ... Brown has thrown two passes this season. The other one was incomplete. ... Baltimore missed a chance to go 10-2 for the first time in franchise history. ... Rice's 32nd rushing touchdown broke a second-place tie with Willis McGahee on the team's career list.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale welcomes second chance at role

martindale.png
AP Images

Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale welcomes second chance at role

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Don Martindale wondered if he would ever get a second chance to be an NFL defensive coordinator after his one-and-done disaster with the Denver Broncos in 2010.

The Broncos went 4-12 that season and gave up more points (29.4 per game) and yards (390.8) than any team in the league. Those miserable numbers, not surprisingly, cost Martindale his job.

He latched on with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012 as linebackers coach. After working diligently with several stars, including Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Zachary Orr and C.J. Mosley, the 54-year-old Martindale last week was promoted to defensive coordinator.

RELATED: WHO WERE THE RAVENS' MVP'S IN 2017?

To say he's pleased to be in charge of an NFL defense again would be a profound understatement.

"Without a doubt," Martindale said Thursday. "My family knows it. Everybody knows it. My players know it. I can't wait."

His performance in Denver eight years ago is hardly worth putting on a resume, but Martindale believes it was a worthwhile experience.

"Even though the stats were what they were, I was really proud with how we played," he said. "I'm glad I went through that process because I think that makes me a better coach today. It's like I tell my guys: You either win or you learn."

Martindale's new job with the Ravens carries the responsibility of overseeing a unit that has long been among the best in the NFL, thriving under notable leaders such as Marvin Lewis, Rex Ryan, Chuck Pagano and Dean Pees, who retired on Jan. 1.

"I've been preparing for this job all my life," Martindale said. "It's very humbling, but I understand the pressure and I look forward to the challenge."

Martindale takes over a defense that this season ranked 12th in net yards allowed, first in takeaways (34) and sixth in fewest points allowed (18.9). He has no plans to revamp the unit or change the philosophy, especially since head coach John Harbaugh stressed the need to retain continuity before launching his search for Pees' replacement.

RELATED: CALVIN RIDLEY A TOP PROSPECT FOR RAVENS IN 2018 DRAFT

Martindale will, however, put his own stamp on the unit.

"I think personality-wise, and just calls, there's going to be some things that are the same. And then there are going to be sometimes where I'm going to pressure more," Martindale said. "I just think I have a more aggressive personality in calling the game. Sometimes, too aggressive. That's some of the things I've learned from the past."

His most daunting task will be finding a way to make the defense to come up big late in the game. In 2016, a fourth-quarter collapse in Pittsburgh cost Baltimore a playoff berth. This season, a fourth-down touchdown pass in the final minute by Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton bounced the Ravens from the postseason chase.

"Our mantra has always been to finish," Martindale said. "We're close. Obviously, the last two years, it's been the last play that's knocked us out of it. We are going to work diligently -- all of us -- with our package and situational football.

"That's going to be the next step, I think, that will skyrocket us. That's the big thing that I see. We were really good. Let's make it great."

Quick Links

Offensive, defensive and rookie of the year awards for Ravens' 2017 season

mvps.png
USA Today Sports

Offensive, defensive and rookie of the year awards for Ravens' 2017 season

The Ravens' season had it's ups and down, but out of it came some bright spots.

The defense continued to prove dominate and the offense found its groove during the second half of the season, but who stood out the most?

Offensive MVP: RB Alex Collins

Collins was a late preseason pickup after being cut by the Seattle Seahawks and Ravens fans are grateful they let him go. After new acquisition Danny Woodhead injured his hamstring on the first drive in Week 1 and Terrance West injured his calf Week 5 in Oakland, Allen emerged as a saving grace. He finished the season with 973 yards, six touchdowns and 212 attempts averaging 4.6 yards-per-carry. His longest rushing attempt was 50-yards against the Steelers in Week 4, and then in Week 14, rushed 120-yards on their defense. 

RELATED: RAVENS' 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT ROUNDUP

Defensive MVP: OLB Terrell Suggs

This one was a toss up between Suggs and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, but considering the level at which Sizzle is playing at in his 15th season, his 2017 performance is MVP worthy.

The 35-year old finished the season with 49 combined tackles, 12 assist, 11 sacks and four forced fumbles. Suggs ranks 11th in the league in sacks and was voted to his seventh Pro Bowl, something that should be expected from the leader of a defense that finished the regular season ranked sixth in points allowed. During the Ravens' Week 12 matchup, Suggs proved he doesn't age when he strip sacked Texans QB Tom Savage with 4:44 remaining in the fourth, shifting the momentum back to the Ravens who were clinging on to a 23-16 win. He's suffered two Achilles tears and a torn bicep over the last 5.5 seasons but has remained Hall of Fame worthy. As of right now, T-Sizzle has no plans of retiring. 

RELATED: FIVE OFFSEASON QUESTIONS RAVENS MUST ANSWER

Rookie of the Year: CB Marlon Humphrey

The Ravens' 2017 first-round pick stepped up to the plate when starting CB Jimmy Smith's season was over after suffering a torn Achilles in Week 13. The rookie out of Alabama finished the season with 34 combined tackles, four assists and two interceptions. Pro Football Focus graded Humphrey the fifth-best cover corner in the league. QBs only had a 53.5 rating when they threw in his direction. PFF also gave Humphrey a 82.7 rookie rating. 

Humphrey will continue to prove his worth during the 2018 season if Jimmy Smith is still recovering come Week 1.

RELATED: IMPORTANT 2018 OFFSEASON DATES

Special Teams MVP: P Sam Koch

Koch is in his 12th season with the Ravens and he's continuing to prove how efficient that leg of his is. He had a season long of 67-yards and placed 40 of 84 punts inside the 20-yard line. Koch's accuracy earned him AFC special teams player of the week not once, but twice this season. The first came in Week 12 against the Houston Texans when he not only placed five punts inside the 20-yard line, but also faked a punt and threw a 22-yard pass to Chris Moore for a first down. The second honor came in Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns after placing four punts inside the 20-yard line, three of them inside the five. While neither Koch or kicker Justin Tucker were named to the Pro Bowl, Ravens fans never break a sweat when the game is in their hands, or should we say, legs.