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BYRON LEFTWICH INJURED IN HIS DEBUT AS STARTER
Tue, 20 Nov 2012 12:45 PM EST

It actually doesn’t matter to the Baltimore Ravens who starts at quarterback for the Steelers, the mission stays the same.

So do the results.

While hurt starter Ben Roethlisberger watched from the sideline, Baltimore pounded backup Byron Leftwich during a 13-10 victory on Sunday night that put the Ravens in total control of the AFC North.

The Baltimore Ravens(8-2) sacked Leftwich 3 times, intercepted him once and sent him crumbling to the Heinz Field turf on a handful of occasions as Baltimore built a 2-game lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers( 6-4 ) heading into the season’s final 6 weeks.

And the Baltimore Ravens have no trouble brawling. On a night the offense could get tiny going against the NFL’s No. One defense, Jacoby Jones returned a punt for a touchdown and Justin Tucker kicked 2 field goals to help the Ravens win their 12th straight game in the division.

Three of those victories have come at Heinz Field, one of the most difficult places to play in the NFL. Still, Ravens coach John Harbaugh was not exactly in the mood to declare the division race over.

”It’s like halftime,” Harbaugh announced. ”It’s like we won the 1st half and the 2nd half is coming up.”

The Steelers definitely hope it goes slightly better than the first.

Leftwich, making his first start in more than 3 years, finished 18 of 39 passes for 201 yards and an interception. He spent lots of the 2nd half slowly picking himself up off the grass and was checked for a rib injury after taking a nasty shot from Ihedbigo late in the 4th quarter.

Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin sent the 32-year-old veteran out for one last-gasp drive; nonetheless it ended in chaos as the Steelers’ 4-game lucky streak came to an unattractive end. Pittsburgh Steelers is 0-5 against the Ravens since 2005 when Roethlisberger doesn’t play. Baseball lines

Joe Flacco wasn’t much better than Leftwich, completing 20 of 32 passes for 164 yards. Running back Ray Rice managed just 40 yards on 20 carries, causing the Ravens to rely on an old standby make the difference.

Generally that’s not a problem. But this isn’t a typical year in Ravens.

Roethlisberger offered to do everything he could to help Leftwich win his 1st game as a starter in more than 6 years and insisted all week the offense wouldn’t change.

For a fugitive moment, Roethlisberger seemed to be right.

Leftwich went deep on the game’s first snap attempting to hit Mike Wallace, drawing a pass interference penalty on Baltimore’s Cary Williams. Two plays later Leftwich – who joked all week about his lack of speed – acquired time in the pocket, rolled to his right and made for the sideline.

Rather than slide or duck out of bounds, the 250-pound Leftwich got a block and raced – in a manner of talking – 31 yards for a touchdown to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead. Roethlisberger lifted his good arm in the air in celebration after the longest run of Leftwich’s career, and the play appeared to give Steelers a sense of confidence.


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