The football never hit the ground in the fourth quarter for Charlie Batch. The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback connected on every pass attempt, except when free safety Ed Reed intercepted him in the end zone.
It was a slow burn for the Ravens secondary against the Steelers third-stringer during the close of a 23-20 loss Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens allowed Batch, whose 38th birthday is Wednesday, to complete 10 of 11 passes in the fourth quarter for 105 yards, including a game-tying touchdown pass to tight end Heath Miller and one interception for a 98.9 quarterback rating.
During the second half, Batch was 16 of 20 for 219 yards after passing for just 57 yards on 9-for-16 passing in the first half.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh chalked up the frequent breakdowns to too much aggressiveness rather than communication issues.
"It was more just keeping our eyes on our guy as opposed to jumping a screen-fake or another kind of fake to another guy," Harbaugh said Monday. "We got a little overanxious. I would say it was over-aggressiveness more than it was a miscommunication in those instances."
In squandering a 10-point lead, the Ravens' defense gave up several passes over the middle. That included a 23-yard completion to Miller and a 17-yarder to wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
"They made adjustments to certain things we were running," Reed said. "They made the plays, and we just have to play with better eyes, better composure. ... Charlie Batch is a professional. He did some good ball movement, ball fakes, pump fakes that kind of moved me a little bit.
"We have to look at ourselves as individuals. This is a team sport, but I think we had a bunch of individual plays, not selfish plays, but individual things where all of us can say, 'Man, if I'd made that play, if I would've done that, we could have been there.'"
Harbaugh addresses Tomlin handshake
In the wake of an awkward, somewhat tense exchange between Harbaugh and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin during the traditional postgame handshake, the Ravens' coach downplayed the oft-discussed episode.
"Really, I don’t know anything about the speculation," Harbaugh said. "Nothing uncomfortable at all. I thought Mike did a terrific job preparing his team. Obviously, they played very well, and I made a point to congratulate him on that. Hopefully he accepted that, and it was all good.”
Following the game, Harbaugh stuck out his hand and said "Congratulations," to Tomlin. While Tomlin accepted the handshake, he didn't respond verbally to Harbaugh.
Harbaugh then said, "Hey, hey, hey!" with Tomlin reacting by looking directly at him and replying: "Thank you, good job."
Both coaches headed to their respective locker rooms with Tomlin pausing to respectfully pat quarterback Joe Flacco on the chest.
“I really don’t know about the handshake agendas," Harbaugh said with a smile. "I felt fine about it. It was fine. I just wanted to make sure he knew that we congratulated him and that was it.”
Dickson, Ellerbe on the mend
Both starters were sidelined Sunday after Dickson injured his right knee against the San Diego Chargers, and Ellerbe hurt his right foot and ankle.
"Dannell Ellerbe is continuing to work, and we anticipate he's got a chance to get back this week," Harbaugh said. "We were hopeful for this past game, but it just didn't work out. We took him right to gameday, and he was unable to go.
"Ed Dickson did some running [Monday], so we are just going to see how that knee continues to develop. There is no injury in there. It was kind of a hyperextension deal, so he has a chance."
Harbaugh offered no substantive update on injured middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who remains on the injured reserve-designated to return list with a surgically-repaired torn right triceps. Lewis is expected to return at some point this season, but has yet to resume practicing.
"Ray is here rehabbing," Harbaugh said. "Nothing to report there. We'll just see how that goes this week, and we'll let you know."
For the second consecutive game against the Steelers, wide receiver Torrey Smith was contained.
After catching one pass for seven yards when targeted seven times in a 13-10 win at Heinz Field, Smith was held to three catches for 33 yards on eight targets Sunday.
"Yeah, it's definitely frustrating," Smith said. "Regardless of how tough it may be, it's my job to make the play and more often than not I make it. But there were a couple of plays that I'm very upset about."
Flacco was inaccurate and out of rhythm on the majority of his deep shots to Smith, but the former University of Maryland standout was culpable for failing to secure one accurate bomb.
"You guys saw them," Flacco said. "I'm going to have to look back at them to see what happened. I think we missed a couple of opportunities early in the game to take a better hold of the game. I thought we could have put up 30 or 40 points, and we didn't do it. That's probably the best reflection that we hurt ourselves a little bit."
Oher beaten by Harrison
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher.
Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison looped around him in the fourth quarter, evading his blocking attempt to sack Flacco and force a fumble recovered by defensive end Ziggy Hood.
It was a pivotal moment, leading to Miller's touchdown catch on the ensuing series.
"He's a good player," Oher said of Harrison. "You've got to account for him. You can always get better. We can do a lot of things better."
The turnover was reminiscent of strong safety Troy Polamalu stripping Flacco in a Dec. 5, 2010 loss to Pittsburgh.
“I had been bull-rushing all game,” Harrison said. “On the sack, I basically set up the same way. It looked like I was going to bull-rush, but I just slapped the hands (of Oher). I just hand-played him outside. Flacco held on to the ball a little longer than usual and I was able to get my hand in there."
Flacco waited in vain for receivers to create separation.
"Everybody was covered downfield," Flacco said. "I was getting ready to tuck it and chalk it up as a loss. The guy came around and hit my wrist. He hit the ball and just got it out. I tried to hold, but I couldn't."
Cornerback Jimmy Smith remains out indefinitely after having sports hernia surgery in November.
"Jimmy Smith continues to get better," Harbaugh said. "So, he will be moving around a little this week. We'll see how that goes.
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