BALTIMORE -- Like most Americans, the Baltimore Ravens turned back the clock on Sunday. But the Ravens went all the way back a decade.
Baltimore jumped into a first-place tie with the rival Pittsburgh Steelers by going back to its old-school roots, relying on strong defense and timely special teams in a 21-14 victory. It was sort of nostalgic that the Ravens beat their biggest rival for a franchise-record fourth straight time in this fashion.
“I feel like we have to play great to win games," safety Eric Weddle said of the defense. "That’s no slight to the offense. That’s no slight to this team. We’re playing complementary football. But we feel like we have to get turnovers, and we have to hold teams to low points. That’s the way our team is, and there is nothing wrong with that."
How dominant was the Ravens' defense? The Steelers didn't cross midfield or score their first points until the fourth quarter. Baltimore continually frustrated a less-than-full-strength Ben Roethlisberger, holding Pittsburgh to 277 total yards and 4-for-16 on third downs.
How clutch were the Ravens' special teams? Baltimore received two long field goals (49 and 42 yards) from kicker Justin Tucker on a windy day as well as a blocked punt that was returned by rookie Chris Moore for a touchdown.
How awful was Baltimore's offense? The Ravens and an inaccurate Flacco managed one touchdown, a 95-yard catch by Mike Wallace in the first quarter that represented more than one-third of their total yards. This resembled the days of Trent Dilfer and Kyle Boller, when Baltimore won in spite of its offense.
The Ravens became the first team in nine years to shut out the Steelers in the first three quarters, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Baltimore held Pittsburgh to three or fewer plays on 10 drives Sunday (only one other team managed that same level of futility).
This is how you have to win when the Ravens' offense gets 42 yards and two first downs in the second half.
Linebacker Terrell Suggs was asked if this could be one of the best defenses he's played on.
"I don't know. It's all how you finish," Suggs said. "If you miss the playoffs, who cares where your defense ranked?"
The Ravens and Steelers are now both 4-4, but they're going in opposite directions. Baltimore ended a four-game losing streak and faces the winless Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. The Steelers dropped their third straight.