PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 20: Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers watches his teammates warm up prior to the game against the Green Bay Packers on December 20, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Most Steelers fans weren't giving the team a shot during the first of two bouts against the Baltimore Ravens in the next 3 weeks. The Steelers were without 3 Pro Bowlers: Ben Roethlsiberger, Troy Polamalu and Antonio Brown. The Ravens were coming off a dynamite performance last week and have a healthy Joe Flacco/Ray Rice combination that has given the Steelers fits. Pittsburgh had a chance to tie the game with under 2:00 to play, but the Ravens defensive backs jarred two long Pittsburgh pass receptions loose and the Steelers failed to convert on 4th and 10 as time expired.The Byron Leftwich-led offense started the night off with a bang as they scored a touchdown in the game's first minute, but they only mustered three points the rest of the way.The Ravens lone touchdown came on a punt return by Jacoby Jones in the first quarter and the Ravens also tacked on an early field goal after a Mike Wallace fumble set Baltimore up with a short field. Those two mistakes ended up costing the Steelers the game as the offense wasn't able to find any rhythm with Byron Leftwich in at QB. Leftwich appeared to be banged up most of the night, wincing and holding his throwing shoulder. Leftwich led a few long drives late in the 4th quarter and the Steelers had a few chances to take the lead with a touchdown. The first drive stalled near the Ravens goal line and Pittsburgh settled for a short field goal to make it 13-10.The Steelers drove into Ravens territory again with around 4 minutes remaining in the game, but Leftwich was sacked twice during the team's last real gasp at taking the lead. Willie Colon was fooled on a stunt by the Ravens and the drive ended. Pittsburgh had another chance to get the ball back with under 2:00 to play and appeared to stuff the Ravens on a crucial 3rd down at the two minute warning, but Brett Keisel was flagged for offsides and the Ravens converted the ensuing 3rd and 2 to ice the game. This was a frustrating loss for the Steelers. Despite not being given much of a chance, the team drastically outplayed a healthier Ravens team. The Steelers defense played an inspired game, holding the Ravens offense to two field goals. These games are always so close and a single mistake (the punt return) can swing the entire game on way or the other. The Steelers travel to Baltimore in two weeks for what will likely be a must-win game. Pittsburgh can't afford to get swept by the Ravens.