Pro Bowl nose tackle Haloti Ngata said this week that his left knee was getting back to normal after he sprained it against the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 10 and then missed a game against the Chicago Bears a week later.

Ngata backed up his words in the first quarter Thursday night, bursting through center Fernando Velasco's block to stuff rookie running back Le'Veon Bell for no gain on the Steelers' opening play.

The Ravens had advocated a more patient approach against Bell after he punished them for a career-high 93 yards during a 19-16 loss to the Steelers on Oct. 20 at Heinz Field.

They shut down his cutback lanes with better lane discipline and block-shedding techniques, holding him to 21 yards on nine carries in the first half.

Chippy game

There were three confrontations in the first half between the Ravens and the Steelers, living up to the tradition of feisty exchanges between the AFC North rivals.

The most notable altercation ensued when Smith (Maryland) shoved Taylor in the chest, setting off a large scrum with officials eventually stepping in to restore order.

No flags were thrown, and tempers cooled after that incident.

Stokley sprains knee

Veteran wide receiver Brandon Stokley left the game at the end of the first half with a sprained left knee and did not return.

In just his second game back from a recurring groin injury that had bothered him since the third week of the season, Stokley injured his left knee at the end of a route and went to the locker room for further examination. He went back on the field for one play before he was ruled out for the rest of the game.

Ravens outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil left the game with a left ankle sprain in the first half, but returned in the second half.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith may have suffered a concussion during his collision with Bell and went through the NFL testing protocol.

"Jimmy should be OK," Harbaugh said.

Cornerback Corey Graham landed badly in the fourth quarter, but went back in the game.

"I just fell on my hip," he said. "I made a break on the ball and then I came down on my hip. It's not a big deal. I should be all right."

Woodley out

Steelers starting outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley was ruled out before kickoff, the third consecutive game he has missed because of a calf injury.

He had been listed as doubtful on the injury report.

The Ravens had no surprises with their scratches, deactivating safety Brynden Trawick (high ankle sprain), safety Omar Brown, running back Bernard Scott, center Ryan Jensen, wide receiver Deonte Thompson, outside linebacker John Simon and defensive tackle Brandon Williams.

Reserve cornerback Asa Jackson was active for the second time this season.

End zone

The Ravens game captains were offensive guard Marshal Yanda, offensive tackle Michael Oher, Ngata, middle linebacker Daryl Smith and wide receiver Jacoby Jones. … The Steelers also deactivated quarterback Landry Jones, wide receiver Derek Moye, cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, tight end Richard Gordon, linebacker Stevenson Sylvester and nose tackle Steve McLendon (sprained right ankle). ... The Ravens are now 11-5 all-time wearing their black jerseys, going 8-2 under Harbaugh (4-2 in white pants and 4-0 in black pants).

awilson@baltsun.com
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