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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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With season on the line, rookies Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards carried Ravens to another week

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With season on the line, rookies Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards carried Ravens to another week

This was one of the most interesting weeks the Baltimore Ravens have experienced in a very long time.

Coming off three-straight losses and preparing to face division rivals with their season on the line, their starting quarterback was likely out with an injury, their backup spent an afternoon in the hospital with a stomach illness and job security was the buzz around town. 

But when the clock read one at M&T Bank Stadium and it was do-or-die, two rookies took their team and carried them to a win, literally and figuratively. 

In his NFL start, first-round draft pick Lamar Jackson was 13-of-19 for 150 yards in the air while rushing for 117 yards on 27 attempts.

All afternoon long we were in awe of his speed, and probably at times nervous, by just how confident the rookie was in taking the game into his own hands.

"I thought he played spectacular," head coach John Harbaugh said after the win. "I thought he played winning football. It's tough being a quarterback in this league."

"For a first-time-out rookie in an environment like that...All those operation things, I think, speak to his intelligence, his studiousness, and just his ability to run the show. And that's everything. The playmaking — that comes from God. He made use of that, too. Very proud of that."

Jackson hasn't been one to put his feelings into many words, and in the week leading up to his NFL start, the Heisman Trophy winner continuously remained humble.

When asked how it felt to lead the Ravens to a 24-21 win over the Bengals, Jackson said, "I don't know. Come out with a win. It was pretty good, I guess."

On the Ravens' opening drive, Jackson rushed five times for 46 yards while converting two third downs that ended with a seven-yard touchdown run from Alex Collins. The QB is so fast that according to NFL Next Gen Stats, Jackson reached 15+ mph on 14 rushing attempts. No other player has hit 15+ mph on more than nine rushing attempts this season. 

Plus, his 27 carries were the most by a quarterback in an NFL game since Pittsburgh Steelers' Joe Geri's in 1950. 

"I think he brings a different dynamic to the game. As you can tell, our offense looks totally different, obviously from when Joe [Flacco] is in. It's hard for defenses to game plan for Lamar. And I think that shows with Gus [Edwards] having 100 yards as well. It's good to see, and it's a great win."

That brings us to our next rookie speedster; Gus Edwards.

The undrafted free agent out of Rutgers put up 115 rushing yards on 17 attempts averaging 6.8 yards-per-carry and one touchdown.

"I've got a great coaching staff," Edwards said on getting his big chance and playing well. "I've got a great group of veteran running backs [that] told me to always be prepared, from day one when I came in here, they told me what it was going to be like. This game, a lot of things played into it, and you;you've always got to be ready."

The last time the Ravens had two 100+ rushers in a single game was December 23, 2012 against the New York Giants when Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce ran for 107 and 123 yards respectively. Today also marked the first time in NFL history that a team had a rookie quarterback and running back each surpass 100 rushing yards in a game, per Elias Sports Bureau.

For a team that had many daunting questions surrounding them just a week ago, two young bloods came out and managed to change the aura in the city of Baltimore, at least for now. 

"It's just a confidence builder to be honest," Willie Snead said on having a quarterback like Jackson. "When we were running the ball how we were, it just gives us so much momentum and a lot of flexibility to do what we want. It was awesome to see that today, and [we] look forward to keep doing it."

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What a rush: Lamar Jackson ran for 117 yards in win

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What a rush: Lamar Jackson ran for 117 yards in win

The opening drive set the tone.

Stepping on the field for the first time as a starting quarterback in the NFL, Lamar Jackson led the Ravens on an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown to get the team out to an early 7-0 lead over the Bengals.

In that drive, the rookie from Louisville did not attempt one pass. His legs did the work as he rushed for 46 yard on five carries. 

That was the type of day it was for Jackson. While his passing numbers (13-19, 150 yards, 1 INT) were pedestrian, the 117 yards rushing are what left the Ravens fans and the Bengals defense with their heads on a swivel.

Showing the lighting quickness that help make a name for himself in college and made him such an intriguing prospect coming into this year’s draft, Jackson was the team’s leading rusher in the much-needed, come-from-behind 24-21 win over the Bengals.

It was clear head coach John Harbaugh and his staff came into the game with a run-first game plan. Jackson’s 117 yards, along with Gus Edwards’ 115 yards led the way for Baltimore’s 265 yards rushing on the day. 

Jackson got the start in place of Joe Flacco who was sidelined due to a hip injury.

While Jackson has seen time on the field in various offensive packages this season, his first start and win as an NFL quarterback came at a crucial time for the Ravens as the playoff race is heating up. 

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