Ravens stomp Steelers thanks to dominant second half

If you look at the drive chart from the second half of today's 35-7 Ravens win over the Steelers, this is what you see next to Pittsburgh's name:

Fumble
Interception
Interception
Punt
Interception
Fumble
Fumble
Downs

Eight drives, six turnovers (seven, if you feel like piling on and counting the turnover on downs to end the game), zero points.

Unreal.

"I ain't seen nothing like that before," linebacker Terrell Suggs said of all the turnovers. "It was amazing."

Up 21-7 at halftime, the Ravens hit a new gear in the second half, especially from a defensive perspective. They ratcheted up the pressure on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, hitting him, tossing him to the turf, and forcing him into poor decision after poor decision and mistake after mistake.

Instead of resting comfortably with a 14-point lead, the Ravens got after it, and the result was a dominant win.

"That's what you've got to do, and that's what we didn't do great last year," linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "We'd come out, play good in the first half, and then come out kind of slow in the second half. (Today), we came out in the second half and stepped on the gas. That's how you finish games, and it was big for us."

This second half completely contrasted the one we witnessed in the playoffs last season, when the Ravens held an identical 21-7 halftime lead in a divisional round matchup against the Steelers, but let the game slip away.

This time around, it was the Steelers - not the guys in purple and black - who self-destructed with turnovers, penalties and overall sloppy play.

"We had been in that position before, and we remember how bad it had hurt to come off the field knowing we (were) up and we lost that game," cornerback Lardarius Webb said. "So, we began the game again at halftime. Just started over, 0-0, let's play ball."

Three times in the second half, the Ravens' offense took advantage of a takeaway handed to them by their defensive teammates by turning the turnovers into points. The biggest change in momentum came when Haloti Ngata gave Joe Flacco fantastic field position at the Pittsburgh 18-yard line just one play into the second half after his crushing hit turned into a Rashard Mendenhall fumble.

On the very next snap, Flacco hit tight end Ed Dickson for an 18-yard touchdown. Sam Koch subsequently ran in a fake extra point for a two-point conversion, and just like that, the Ravens' lead had ballooned from 14 to 22 just 12 seconds into the second half.

With that blow, the wind was sucked out of Pittsburgh's sails. They went from coming out of the halftime break believing they could cut the Ravens' lead to seven points to sitting in a massive hole.

"I think that once we got that turnover and Ed Dickson got the touchdown, it just kept on rolling from there," Ngata said. "I think we kind of gave them a knock-out hit there, and they knew that they would have to do a lot to catch up. Our offense was able to keep running the ball and driving on them and that kept them on the field. It was a good thing to see."

The Ravens didn't just beat the Steelers today, they buried them. This was a statement performance, and the way Suggs, Ngata, Ed Reed and company went for the jugular in the second half bodes well for this team's potential in 2011.

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