Flacco hits bottom against Steelers

The Baltimore Sun

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco might remember this game for a long time - and for the wrong reasons.

The rookie turned in the worst outing of his career in the 13-9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last night at M&T; Bank Stadium.

Flacco forged lows in completion percentage (39.3 percent), passing yards (115) and passer rating (22.2). His 11 completions were better only than the 10 he made in last week's 24-10 win over the Washington Redskins. He also threw two interceptions and was sacked twice yesterday.

"It was a tough game," Flacco said. "That's what games are going to be in December in the NFL. Believe me, we learn something from every game."

Flacco's biggest regret occurred on third-and-eight on the Steelers' 27-yard line with the Ravens clinging to a 9-6 lead late in the fourth quarter. Feeling pressure to his right, Flacco slid left, but he could not avoid getting sacked and stripped by linebacker Lawrence Timmons.

The fumble pushed the Ravens out of field-goal range and forced them to punt, setting up Pittsburgh's game-winning 92-yard touchdown drive.

"I knew somebody was coming up that way," said Flacco, whose streak of quarters without being sacked ended at eight when defensive end Aaron Smith took him down in the third quarter. Flacco had attempted 54 passes without being sacked before that play. "I was sliding to my left, sliding to my left, and I wanted to get rid of the ball. That's what you've got to do in that situation."

Kicking in pain

Matt Stover said his sprained right ankle held up well yesterday.

The kicker converted field goals of 28, 26 and 28 yards on a sore ankle that forced him to miss practice Wednesday and Thursday.

"You try not to be [affected]," Stover said. "I'm not saying I wasn't affected, but you just grit and bear it and deal with it."

Washington injured

Cornerback Fabian Washington, who pulled a hamstring on the final play of the third quarter and did not return, said it was too early to tell whether the injury would prevent him from playing Saturday night against the Dallas Cowboys.

"It's sore right now," said Washington, who added a game-high three pass deflections for a team-leading total of 17 and recorded five tackles before the injury. "It just got tighter. If I don't have my hamstrings, that's my whole game - speed. And I felt like I'd be hurting more than helping."

In addition, linebacker Jarret Johnson injured a calf. His status for Saturday is also uncertain.

End zone

With four punts inside the 20, Sam Koch has posted 31 inside that opponent's mark, breaking his single-season record of 30 in 2006. The franchise's all-time record is 39, set by Kyle Richardson in 1999. ... Wide receiver Mark Clayton ranks fourth on the team's all-time receptions list with 192 after catching three passes for a team-best 38 yards yesterday. ... Le'Ron McClain's total of 87 rushing yards was 1 yard short of tying a season and career high set in Week 12 against the Philadelphia Eagles. The total was the second most surrendered by the Steelers' defense this season. ... Yesterday's announced attendance of 71,502 set a franchise record, eclipsing the mark of 71,438 established Dec. 7 against the Redskins. ... Mixed martial arts superstar Chuck Liddell attended yesterday's game as a guest of fullback Lorenzo Neal.

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