In a victory stirring up memories from last year's Super Bowl run, the Ravens capitalized on special teams and timely offensive production to pull out a 13-10 victory over the division-leading Steelers at Heinz Field.
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Sharpe's 26-yard reception in the fourth quarter -- which was altered from a curl to a flag pattern -- set up Matt Stover's 39-yard, go-ahead field goal. That left the game hanging on the Ravens' mind game with Brown.
With a limp reminding him of his recent past and a stiff crosswind part of his immediate present, Brown sliced the potential game-tying 35-yarder wide right, sealing the win for the Ravens with eight seconds left to play. It was the fourth miss of the game for Brown, who had failed on only 11 of 72 field-goal attempts before yesterday.
"I had no faith that he was going to make that one," McAlister said. "You could see how much it [the tipped attempt] affected him. He wasn't going to make another one after that."
The victory propelled the Ravens into a promising future, with a second half of the season that features five of their last eight regular-season games at home.
The fashion in which they won conjured up the roots of last year's championship surge.
It was reminiscent, coach Brian Billick said, of the Ravens' 24-23 win at Tennessee last November when they needed a late, wide-right miss by kicker Al Del Greco after a come-from-behind score to close the gap on a division leader's home turf. That win is regarded as the turning point in a season in which the Ravens won their final 11 games in capturing their first Super Bowl title.
"This feels very familiar," Billick said. "There's a certain familiarity there that you hope that bodes well. This is a big win."
The Ravens won yesterday despite one third-down conversion, despite Steelers running back Jerome Bettis cranking out 91 yards rushing, despite being outgained, 348-183, in total yards.
This time, the turnover-prone Ravens relished triumphing because of someone else's mistakes. The Ravens are 14-2 in November and December since 1999.
"We rose up to the occasion," Ravens safety Rod Woodson said. "In this league, the team that makes the plays throughout the game is usually going to win."
Said Steelers safety Lee Flowers: "We played better than them. We outplayed them. But that's why they're the Super Bowl champs. They found a way to win."
After Brown's only successful field goal put the Steelers ahead 3-0 in the first quarter, the Ravens answered with a 53-yard kickoff return by Jermaine Lewis.
Four plays later, quarterback Randall Cunningham, who was filling in for injured starter Elvis Grbac for the second straight game, hit a wide-open Sharpe to take a 7-3 lead. It was a rare mistake by the Steelers' top-ranked defense, as Sharpe was not picked up after splitting inside linebackers Kendrell Bell and Earl Holmes.
"Shannon always winks when he's coming out of the huddle," said Cunningham, who was 14-for-22 passing for 158 yards. "So, I was looking for him when he was going down the middle."
That margin was safe until the final minute of the first half when the Steelers took advantage of Ravens cornerback Duane Starks looking at the quarterback. Pittsburgh receiver Plaxico Burress just ran past the quicker Starks and caught a 21-yard pass in the right corner of the end zone.
Starks, who has allowed four touchdowns in his past four games, declined to speak with the media after the game.