Ravens shake off Rice exit to beat Steelers
BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore’s dismissal of running back Ray Rice in the days leading up to the game sparked a response from his Ravens teammates on Thursday as they comfortably beat Pittsburgh 26-6.
Rice was reaching the end of a two-game suspension for domestic violence when a video of him striking his then-fiancee surfaced Monday. By the end of the day, the three-time Pro Bowler had been cut by Baltimore and suspended indefinitely by the NFL.
“We had a tough family situation this week,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Our guys handled it tremendously — with class, with character. They responded.”
Coming off a season-opening loss to Cincinnati, the Ravens (1-1) held Pittsburgh to two field goals and forced three turnovers.
“We wanted to kind of give that to Ray,” rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “We all wish the best for him. Even though he messed up, every man got to go through their mistakes to get better. We wish him the best, but as a team we’ve just got to keep moving forward.”
Bernard Pierce took over for Rice at running back, gaining 96 yards on 22 carries as part of a ground game that finished with 157 yards. Quarterback Flacco went 21 for 29 for 166 yards and two touchdown passes to tight end Owen Daniels, and Justin Tucker kicked four field goals.
Asked if he was curious how the team would fare after the tumultuous week, Baltimore defensive lineman Chris Canty shouted, “We weren’t curious at all. We knew how this was going to go. This was going to go one way, our way, tonight. No question about it.”
Pittsburgh (1-1) finished with only 22 fewer yards than Baltimore, but the turnovers made the difference. One Steelers miscue halted their opening drive, another set up a fourth-quarter field goal by Tucker, and an interception thrown by Ben Roethlisberger with 1:51 remaining ended any hope.
“A lot of the self-inflicted wounds are going to prevent you from being in a football game like that,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “We turned the ball over too often (and) were highly penalized. Those two things are a lethal combination.”
It was only the second time in the last 11 regular-season meetings between the teams that the outcome was decided by more than three points.
Roethlisberger completed 22 of 37 passes for 217 yards. It was the first time since 2006 that Baltimore held Pittsburgh without a touchdown.
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