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Instant analysis from the Ravens' 21-14 win over the Steelers

Baltimore Sun sports staff reacts to the Ravens' 21-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jeff Zrebiec, Ravens reporter: The Ravens regained the formula that led to their 3-0 start: solid defense, a game-changing play on special teams and Mike Wallace finding the end zone. Regardless of how hobbled Ben Roethlisberger was, the Ravens still had to stop Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, two of the NFL's most dynamic players, and they did that for 3 1/2 quarters about as well as a team could. The run defense was dominant in every way. Cornerbacks Tavon Young and Jimmy Smith were terrific and safety Lardarius Webb played his best game all season. Whether this victory turns out to be a highlight of another disappointing season or the impetus behind a playoff run will depend on whether the Ravens are able to fix their myriad issues. The run game remains a huge concern. Joe Flacco and the offensive line are still not playing well enough. As satisfying as any victory over the Steelers is, those problems don't appear to be going away.  

Edward Lee, Ravens reporter: Offensively, the Ravens fared worse than the Pittsburgh Steelers, trailing in categories such as yards (277-274), first downs (15-13), and third-down efficiency (25 percent-23.5). But the offense can thank the defense and special teams for coming through and helping the team end a four-game losing streak. Will the Ravens have enough in the tank to defeat the Cleveland Browns on Thursday?

Mark Selig, Ravens editor: This was a defiant win in the ugliest, most Ravenish way. The offense was lousy (aside from one play), the defense was firm until the end, special teams scored and referee John Hussey received more face time either quarterback. The Ravens are like those mischievous teens your parents never wanted you to hang out with: They'll make you look bad and soon you'll start mimicking some of their less desirable traits. The Ravens have mastered the art of bringing out the worst in an opponent this season. And now they lead an uncharacteristically weak AFC North again. 

Ron Fritz, sports editor: It ain’t over until it’s over, and the Ravens made a nailbiter out of a game they led by 21 in the fourth quarter. But somehow, they won and moved into first place in the AFC North. That’s how sad the AFC North is right now. It was a pretty impressive effort by the Ravens’ defense, which was on the field almost the entire fourth quarter. The offense is still in shambles and that still has to be the main concern.

Peter Schmuck, columnist: Make no mistake, this was a huge victory for the Ravens, who moved into first place in the AFC North (including head-to-head tiebreaker) going into Thursday night home game against the awful Browns. But nobody is going to hang a picture of this performance in the Louvre. The Ravens continued to pile up penalties in the first half and wasted a couple of possible field goal opportunities. They also dropped three very makeable interceptions that might have made this victory a lot easier. Still, when you've lost four in a row, a win is a win worth celebrating.

Childs Walker, reporter: With Tony Siragusa in the house to lead cheers, the Ravens partied like it was 2000, winning a crucial division game almost entirely because of their suffocating defense. The Ravens had to win to get their season back on track and now they have a superb chance to double down with the woeful Browns coming to town in four days. But the victory obscured another disappointing performance by the Ravens offense, which could not sustain drives and failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities because of penalties and poor decisions. Is this Ravens defense good enough to sustain a playoff drive with little help from the other side of the ball? That may be the story of the next eight weeks.

Mike Preston, Ravens columnist: Ravens were able to pull into a first-place tie with the Steelers in the AFC North, but the Steelers were simply a worse team than the Ravens. It will be interesting to see how these two teams match up in Pittsburgh on Christmas, especially if Ben Roethlisberger is healthy. This was a strong defensive effort by the Ravens and as I mentioned earlier this year, the front seven has to carry this team.

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