Steelers notebook: Ravens winning close ones
The Ravens have played six games decided by three points or fewer. They've won five. (The Steelers have lost three such games.) If nothing else, this ability to win close games explains why Baltimore could clinch its second consecutive AFC North title Sunday.
None of those wins was as improbable as the 16-13 overtime decision in San Diego last week that was effectively decided by Ray Rice's conversion of a fourth-and-29 play.
“I've been around, and we've been on the other end of the situation where we found ways not to pull it out,” Rice said. “The growth and maturity of this team, we are just finding ways to win games. I'm in my fifth year. Joe Flacco is in his fifth year. We have a pretty mature team now that is finding ways to win.”
If he keeps this up, Shaun Suisham will have the best season by a Steelers kicker. He is 21 of 22 (95.5 percent), the second time in three seasons he has missed only one kick. He was 14 of 15 after signing in 2010. Based on percentage, the best season was by Gary Anderson (93.3 percent, 28 of 30) in 1993.
Following the 20-14 loss in Cleveland, left tackle Max Starks complained about cut blocking — blocks at knee level or lower — by the Browns, a tactic he said they hadn't used before. Starks has a history with Browns lineman Frostee Rucker, a former Bengals player.
Rucker's response was a head-shaking, “Who, us?”
“We don't come here with excuses if we don't come out on top,” Rucker told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “We give the team credit. They have more going on negative than we do. We don't come in here and cry about holding calls or anything like that.”
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.