"Games in your division and on the road are where quarterbacks can really elevate themselves," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "Those are the hardest ones to win. That's what separates the really good ones from the average ones."
The Ravens' defense roughed up fill-in quarterback Charlie Batch (12-for-21 for 141yards and one interception) and showed why it's ranked No. 1 in the NFL in the third quarter.
After two turnovers by the offense (Willis McGahee's fumble and Flacco's interception) in Ravens territory, the defense didn't allow a first down and forced long field-goal attempts. Jeff Reed's 49-yard try hit the right upright, and his 45-yarder was wide left.
The defense's greatest lapse came in the fourth quarter, when Mendenhall's second touchdown capped a 93-yard drive and gave the Steelers a 14-10 lead.
On the next series, after the offense couldn't score from the 2-yard line, the defense redeemed itself by keeping Pittsburgh pinned and giving the ball back to the offense.
"I think we all have faith in our defense converting in that situation," Flacco said.
Flacco couldn't have led the Ravens to their second win in 11 trips to Pittsburgh without his offensive line.
He was sacked only once, and that was the result of guard Chris Chester blocking the Steelers' Casey Hampton into the quarterback. That's a major turnaround from last season, when Flacco was sacked nine times in two meetings with Pittsburgh.
"You can break down coverage eventually if you have a chance in terms of protection," Harbaugh said. "I think the credit goes to our offensive line. That's the best pass-rush group in the league right now, and our guys got them blocked."
In the end, the Ravens won because they had their franchise quarterback and the Steelers did not (Ben Roethlisberger served the final game of his four-game NFL suspension).
Said Cameron: "I can't imagine a better fit for the city of Baltimore and for this division than Joe Flacco."
Baltimore Sun reporter Ken Murray contributed to this article.
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