Ravens' Lewis: Defense not to blame for loss
Ray Lewis has been in the NFL long enough to know not to call out any of his teammates, especially after a heartbreaking playoff loss to the rival Steelers.
So the 12-time Pro Bowl Baltimore Ravens linebacker refrained from putting the blame for Saturday's 31-24 collapse to the Steelers on any specific group or player.
However, he made it known that it wasn't the defense's fault for the Ravens allowing their second most points this season in the loss to the Steelers.
"I tell you time and time again, the No. 1 thing you cannot do is turn the ball over in the red zone," Lewis said. "That will never change in this business ever. We are good, but to overcome all of that is harsh on my defense, and I wouldn't put that much on my defense because we went out and played our hearts out."
Quarterback Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense turned the ball over three times inside its 25-yard line in the third quarter, and that allowed the Steelers to erase a 21-7 deficit.
"That's how they got back in the game," Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said.
Two fumbles and an interception gave the Steelers short fields, and they responded with three touchdowns.
"It is too much of a momentum swing," Lewis said. "They are already at home, they already have things going their way, and you turn the ball over three in the red zone on our side of the field."
The first turnover occurred early in the third quarter when Ray Rice fumbled at the 23. That led to Ben Roethlisberger's touchdown pass to Heath Miller to make it 21-14.
Two possessions after that, Flacco was intercepted by Ryan Clark at the 25-yard line. That led to Hines Ward's touchdown catch that tied it, 21-21.
Finally, Flacco fumbled the exchange with center Matt Birk the next time the Ravens had the ball, and the Steelers answered with a Shaun Suisham field goal for a 24-21 lead.
Baltimore had four possessions in the third quarter and turned the ball over three times.
"We didn't do it once, we didn't do it twice, we did it three times," Ravens defensive star Terrell Suggs said. "Those are the type of things that get you beat."
The Ravens' defense allowed 21 first downs to the Steelers, who converted 50 percent of their third downs (7 of 14) and allowed touchdowns on four of the five times the ball was inside their 20-yard line.
"I have to take my hat off to my defense," Lewis said. "You don't come out and play the way we played and because it didn't go your way, you hold your head down."
"It just (stinks) to lose a game like this," defensive lineman Haloti Ngata said.
Steelers vs. Ravens 1/1 5⁄11
The Steelers defeat Baltimore, 31-24, in an AFC playoff game Saturday January 15, 2011 at Heinz Field.