BALTIMORE (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Steelers were looking to start the 2011 season on a good note after falling to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl last year. However, seven turnovers and a fast start by the Baltimore Ravens sunk the Steelers in Week 1.
Ray Rice ran for 107 yards and a touchdown and also caught four passes for 47 yards and another score to help lead the Ravens to a 35-7 win Sunday afternoon.
Baltimore began the game with the ball at their own 35 yard line and they wasted no time in drawing first blood.
Ray Rice opened the drive with a 36-yard run. After a short gain by Rice on the next play, Joe Flacco went to the air and hooked up with Anquan Boldin for a 27-yard touchdown with 13:28 to play in the opening quarter.
On Pittsburgh’s first possession of the game, they were only able to gain 15 yards on five plays before being forced to punt.
The Steelers took over after forcing the Ravens to punt on the ensuing drive. Facing a 1st-and10 from their own 44 yard line, Terrell Suggs sacked Ben Roethlisberger and forced a fumble.
Baltimore recovered and quickly added to the lead.
Rice capped a five-play, 37-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to make the score 14-0 with just under two minutes to play in the first quarter.
Pittsburgh answered on their next possession to score their first points of the season.
Rashard Mendenall began the drive from the Steelers’ 32 yard line with a 23-yard run.
On 3rd-and-goal from the 11 yard line, Roethlisberger found Emmanuel Sanders in the back of the end zone to cut the lead to 14-7. The touchdown capped a 10-play 68-yard drive.
Toward the end of the first half, the Ravens orchestrated a 12-play 84-yard touchdown drive.
Baltimore completed four third-down opportunities on the drive, including an 11-yard touchdown pass to Rice with 1:48 to play in the half.
Pittsburgh was unable to get anything going on their final possession of the half as the Ravens’ defense forced a three-and-out.
Baltimore elected to run out the clock and take a 14-point lead into the locker room.
Pittsburgh began the second half with the ball, but didn’t have it for very long.
On their first play from scrimmage, Mendenhall was met in the backfield by Haloti Ngata and fumbled. Replays showed that the hand-off was not clean and Mendenhall did not have control of the ball before Ngata hit him.
The Ravens recovered and on their first play of the drive, Flacco went deep to Ed Dickson for an 18-yard touchdown. The Ravens faked the extra point attempt and Sam Koch scampered into the end zone to complete the 2-point conversion and extend the lead to 29-7.
The bad news was not over for the Steelers. On their first play after the touchdown, Roethlisberger was picked off by Ray Lewis.
However, the Steelers’ defense held on a 4th-and-1 from their own 13 yard line to get the ball back.
It appeared as if the Steelers would cut into the lead after a 31-yard pass to Hines Ward got them deep into Ravens territory.
However, Ed Reed came up with an interception to stop the drive cold.
The Ravens continued to pull away on the ensuing drive.
A 29-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff extended the lead to 32-7 with 2:59 to play in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Steelers were threatening to score again. However, Reed came up with his second interception of the game to end the drive.
After forcing the Ravens to punt, the Steelers began to march downfield. But again, a turnover ended the drive.
Roethlisberger connected with Mewelde Moore for an 8-yard gain, but Lewis tackled him from behind and forced a fumble, which Baltimore recovered. Initially, Moore was ruled down by contact, but a review of the play overturned the call. It was the sixth turnover of the day for the Steelers.
With four minutes left in the game, Roethlisberger was hit while attempting to throw a deep pass. The ball came out of his grasp and was recovered by the Ravens.
Cundiff added a 30-yard field goal with 1:56 to play to cap the scoring at 35-7.
Flacco finished the game with 224 yards and three touchdowns, while Roethlisberger threw for 228 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
During the pregame festivities, the NFL took a moment to reflect on the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. Players from both teams helped unfurl an American flag that stretched from sideline to sideline while the National Anthem was sung.
The loss was the first opening day loss for the Steelers since 2002 against the New England Patriots.