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Batch, Steelers stun Ravens 23-20

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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.

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

Since drafting Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have made it clear that Joe Flacco is their starter. That doesn't mean they're not experimenting with having them both on the field at the same time, however. 

During this week's minicamp, the team has been lining Jackson up at multiple positions. 

"Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us," coach John Harbaugh said of Jackson during Tuesday's minicamp, via ESPN.com.

"If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That's what we're trying to figure out."

While at Louisville, Jackson rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons. That's more rushing yards than No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley. That unique skill set could be the creative options the Ravens are looking for. 

While at the NFL Combine, however, Jackson refused to workout at any other position than QB. 

"I have a lot of fun seeing what they come up with and what they're going to come up with next," Jackson said. "We'll see where it goes. You have to use your good players."

The Ravens are already viewing Jackson as one of those 'good players.' 

"Once he gets out of the pocket, it's like watching a young Michael Vick," LB C.J. Mosley said after minicamp practice. "It's amazing to watch. When you're defending him, you just have to act like you're tagging off -- you don't want to be on the highlight reel."

Harbaugh has alluded to the fact that the rookie will be active on game days, just exactly how they get the most out of him is what's in play.

"There's a lot of considerations that go into that," Harbaugh said of using two QBs at the once. "Everybody has an opinion. I've read a few. You want to find a way to get the most out of all your guys."

While Flacco isn't the fasted QB in the league, he has shown glimpses of running ability in the past. Figuring out how to utilize Flacco when Jackson is under center is where things will get interesting.

Interesting - as long as it works - is what Ravens fans have been searching for over the last several seasons. 

"Joe has to be able to do other things if [Jackson is] throwing the ball," Harbaugh said. "It gets the creative juices flowing for our offensive coaches, and they've worked hard on that."

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Ravens D-coordinator Don Martindale puts personal stamp on unit

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Ravens D-coordinator Don Martindale puts personal stamp on unit

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- There are no dreary work days for Don Martindale, who has overwhelmingly embraced his new role as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

After serving for five seasons as the team's linebackers coach, Martindale was promoted to coordinator in January after Dean Pees left the post.

Enthusiastic doesn't even begin to describe Martindale's attitude about being in charge of the defense.

"Ever since we've made this transition, it's been a joy to just come through those gates every day. I love it," Martindale said after Wednesday's mandatory minicamp practice.

This isn't the first time Martindale has been put in charge of molding a defense. In 2010, he watched over a unit in Denver that was the worst in the NFL in both yards and points allowed per game.

Given a second chance, the 55-year-old Martindale is putting together a defense that will rely heavily on the instinct of several of its most proven players, most notably safety Eric Weddle and linebackers Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley.

"He's just putting his personal fix on our defense and expanding it, giving the guys confidence to play fast," Weddle said. "The idea is to do what's best for the defense, not what's best the individual."

Martindale called Mosley "the quarterback" of a fluid unit that can make a snap-change from drop-back coverage to an all-out blitz. In that regard, Mosley believes this defense is superior to the one that in 2017 yielded 18.9 points per game, sixth-best in the NFL.

"The way we're able to use our core guys, put them in different spots and do some of the same things just from different positions, it's more creative, I would say, than where we were last year," Mosley said.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh promoted Martindale rather than go outside the organization because he wanted to extend his vision of a defense that has evolved since his arrival in 2008.

"All we're doing is forwarding John's plan," Martindale said. "We're remodeling the package. It's still Ravens football, it's still Ravens defense, but we've streamlined it. It's the elegant simplicity. Guys are playing really fast."

Asked for his take on Martindale's defense, Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg replied, "They're fast and they're furious."

Sure, things might be different once the pads go on at training camp, but at this point, Martindale's boss likes what he sees.

"We're doing a lot of neat things on defense, things that are really good," Harbaugh said. "More than ever, we're putting it on our players to make decisions in real time."

Martindale has a new title, but old habits die hard.

"For the most part, it's been the same," Mosley said. "He always comes in and says, `I have to lead the linebacker room,' and sits down and gets to talking like he's back at linebacker coach."

Told of Mosley's disclosure, Martindale smiled and said, "I've been trying to stay out of there, but you can't help but go in. That's home. I have a good time in the secondary room as well."

And just about everywhere else.

"Where we're going with this thing is really exciting to me," Martindale said, "and I know it's exciting to the players."

In other training camp news, cornerback Jimmy Smith was a surprise participant at practice, going through a light regimen of individual drills just six months after tearing his left Achilles tendon.

"I don't know if Jimmy's like half Wolverine, but he's healed up in half the time of regular human beings," Weddle said, referring to the amazing recuperative powers of the Marvel super hero.

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