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What we learned: Justin Tucker saves Ravens' season

In a sporting contest still anachronistically referred to as football, the Baltimore Ravens overcame the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime, 23-20, due to superior kicking Thursday night. Here's what you need to know:

  1. This was a tale of two kickers. For the second time in four weeks, Steelers kicker Josh Scobee cost his team dearly with a pair of missed field goals. Nursing a 20-17 lead with less than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh missed two plum opportunities to seal the game when Scobee shanked kicks from 49 and 41 yards on back-to-back possessions. Forced into overtime when Ravens kicker Justin Tucker nailed a 42-yard field goal of his own, the Steelers failed on a pair of fourth downs that were attempted at least in part because the coaches didn't trust Scobee to convert a challenging kick. Tucker promptly saved the Ravens' season with a 52-yard field goal in the league's most unfriendly stadium for kickers. If not for Tucker, Baltimore would have been staring at an 0-4 start the likes of which only the 1992 San Diego Chargers have overcome to make the postseason.
  1. This was a devastating loss for a short-handed Pittsburgh squad trying to keep pace with the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals. If the Steelers missed injured kicker Shaun Suisham, they missed Ben Roethlisberger even more. Coordinator Todd Haley called an ultra-conservative game with Michael Vick under center, resulting in a scant 96 net passing yards despite the quarterback's 73.1 completion rate. Haley and coach Mike Tomlin put the game in Vick's hands with a failed QB sweep on fourth-and-two and an overthrow of Antonio Brown on fourth-and-one in overtime. Although Le'Veon Bell showed special vision, patience and cutting ability in a 150-yard effort, his number was bizarrely forgotten with the game on the line. With two minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Steelers had a 99.82 percent chance of winning, per numberFire Live's win probability chart. "That last pass is going to haunt me for a long time," Vick said after the game. "... One of the toughest losses of my career."
  1. The Ravens were extremely fortunate to come away with a victory on a night in which a fake field goal was snuffed out, their quarterback fumbled three times and their offense was stuffed on a key fourth down. With the game on the line in the fourth quarter and overtime, Joe Flacco was dialing up No. 5 receiver Darren Waller and third-string tight end Nick Boyle -- both late-round rookies with two combined receptions entering the night. Crockett Gillmore was inactive, Steve Smith left with a lower back injury and jitterbug Michael Campanaro was absent from overtime with an injury of his own. Even if Smith and Gillmore return after a 10-day rest, this offense is flawed without an explosive playmaking element.
  1. It's no coincidence that Antonio Brown's famed streak of 35 consecutive games with at least five catches and 50 yards was thwarted in the first game Roethlisberger missed since the streak commenced. The quarterback-to-receiver rapport was missing, as Vick misfired on a pair of crucial late-game, fourth-down tosses to Brown. In Vick's defense, Brown dropped a perfectly thrown bomb in the end zone earlier in the game.
  1. The Steelers' defense has promising young talent in defensive end Stephon Tuitt and linebackers Bud Dupree and Ryan Shazier -- when healthy. They even got a sterling effort from recently signed cornerback Ross Cockrell, who showed excellent instincts on an interception as well as a fumble recovery. When it counted, though, this defense lacked backbone, losing at power football to Ravens tailback Justin Forsett and the excellent guard tandem of Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele.
  1. Another bright spot for the Ravens: Less than two weeks after he was acquired from the Dolphins, former third-round pick Will Davis was providing sticky coverage on Antonio Brown with the game on the line. Look for Davis to start stealing more and more snaps from nickel corner Kyle Arrington.
  1. Bell broke Baltimore's streak of 29 consecutive games without surrendering a 100-yard game to a running back. He was the best player on the field.
  1. The Steelers enjoyed a 20-7 lead early in the third quarter. Before Thursday's game, they had not lost a game in which they held a 13-point lead at home since November of 1964.
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