The faces of one of the NFL's fiercest rivalries may be changing. Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel insists the intensity is not.
Considering the final minutes of Pittsburgh's 19-16 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, it's hard to argue.
"It's still violent, it's still smashmouth, it still came down to the very end," Keisel said. "That's what these games are all about. That's why we consider it one of the greatest rivalries in all of football."
The Ravens trailed all day only to tie the game with 1:58 to go on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Dallas Clark. All it did was set the stage for Ben Roethlisberger and Shaun Suisham. The Pittsburgh quarterback calmly drove the Steelers 39 yards to set up Suisham's game-winning 42-yard field goal, the fourth straight game between the two teams that's been decided by three points.
"To get the ball, tied with two time outs, you just have confidence," Roethlisberger said. "I told the line and I told the guys lets go win it, and we did. Give them credit we went down and won it."
Pittsburgh (2-4) won its second straight at it begins the long climb out of an 0-4 start while Baltimore (3-4) heads into a bye week having lost three of four.
Here are five things we learned from two teams heading in opposite directions, at least at the moment:
SUISHAM IS SWEET: Suisham knocked in four field goals for the second straight week and is now 14 of 14 on the season. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin awarded his kicker the game ball, though Suisham isn't quite sure he deserved it.
"That's my job," Suisham said. "I'm happy that I did it. A lot of guys out there did their job tonight too. It's a big win for us."
The Steelers needed Suisham to be perfect as its red zone offense continued to have issues. Pittsburgh managed just one touchdown in four trips inside the Baltimore 20.
BALTIMORE BLUES: The Ravens' last three losses have come by a total of eight points. The journey to get things turned around may be short, but Baltimore can't afford to look like a team that's dealing with a mild Super Bowl hangover. The defending champions are under .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2009. They rallied to make the postseason back then and remain confident they can do it again.
"It's going to be a dog fight just like it always is in this division," Flacco said. "Cincinnati won today and they probably have a little bit of a stronghold on it right now, but we haven't played them yet. We still have a lot of games to go."
THE BELL TOLLS: Pittsburgh rookie running back Le'Veon Bell ran for a season-high 93 yards, the highest total by a Steelers back since Isaac Redman ran for 147 yards against the New York Giants nearly a year ago.
Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley opened up the playbook to get Bell involved. Bell lined up in the wildcat formation several times, with Roethlisberger lining up at wide receiver.
Bell played quarterback in high school, though he's going to stick to his day job at the moment. There are no plans for him to start throwing it around.
"We kind of all put our heads together and came up with some fun, funky-good plays for us," Roethlisberger said. "They worked out."
JOHN HARBAUGH LIKES TO GAMBLE: The Ravens kicked a field goal to draw within 13-9 early in the fourth quarter when coach John Harbaugh decided it was time for an onside kick. Justin Tucker's "bunt" however, failed to go the required 10 yards. The Steelers took over and turned the good field position into three points to build a 16-9 edge.
With his defense having trouble getting off the field quickly, Harbaugh doesn't regret the call.
"We're going to try it because we think we can get it," Harbaugh said. "We thought we had a great shot at getting it. Their guy made a nice play there, made a great play."
THE STEELERS HAVE LIFE: Pittsburgh's 0-4 start is beginning to look like a distant memory. While the Steelers remain well back of the Bengals, they also aren't buried yet. Pittsburgh travels to Oakland next week — where the Steelers have struggled — but after such a shaky September they'll take it.
"At 0-4, a lot of people counted us out and we still have an opportunity to turn this thing around," linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. "Right now we just have to keep marching in the right direction."
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