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Ravens top Steelers 13-10, control AFC North race

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Ravens top Steelers 13-10, control AFC North race

PITTSBURGH (AP) Terrell Suggs isn't ready to declare the race for the AFC North title over.

Besides, even if it were after the Baltimore Ravens' 13-10 victory over the Steelers on Sunday night, the veteran linebacker knows Pittsburgh still has the upper hand in the rivals' ultimate litmus test.

``They got it where it counts,'' Suggs said. ``That's all that really matters is championships. These little independent battles is good for morale but until we catch them in the ring race ... we'll take the win but we've still got to catch them in that component of the rivalry.''

The Ravens (8-2) took a significant step in that direction by shutting down the Steelers (6-4) and backup quarterback Byron Leftwich. The veteran completed 18 of 39 passes for 201 yards in place of injured starter Ben Roethlisberger. Leftwich ran for a score but also threw a drive-killing interception and was sacked three times.

``We went out there and we tried to make plays,'' Leftwich said. ``Some went our way, some didn't. And it just wasn't enough.''

The rematch comes in Baltimore in two weeks.

``It's like halftime,'' Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. ``It's like we won the first half and the second half is coming up.''

The Steelers certainly hope it goes a little better than the first.

Pittsburgh was a clock chewing, drive extending machine under Roethlisberger. There were considerably more fits and starts with Leftwich under center. The Steelers converted just 5 of 17 (29 percent) of third downs, well below their season average or 49 percent.

``We never found a rhythm,'' Leftwich said.

The Ravens weren't much better. Joe Flacco completed 20 of 32 passes for 164 yards. Running back Ray Rice managed just 40 yards on 20 carries, forcing the Ravens to rely on an old standby make the difference.

Typically, that's not a problem. But this is not a typical year in Baltimore.

The defense came in ranked 27th in the league in yards allowed and is missing spiritual leader Ray Lewis, who is on the injured reserve-return list with a triceps injury.

The emotional linebacker made the trip anyway, giving his teammates a lift in the locker room.

``We haven't been playing the best the past couple weeks, or the whole season, some people say,'' said Baltimore cornerback Corey Graham, who intercepted Leftwich in the third quarter. ``We've just got to find a way to get wins and that's what we were able to do today.''

The Steelers hosted a number of franchise greats, including Hall-of-Famers Lynn Swann, John Stallworth and Joe Greene.

Their presence was appreciated, though it did little to make up for the absence of safety Troy Polamalu - out again with a right calf injury - or Roethlisberger, the franchise's current standard bearer.

Roethlisberger offered to do everything he could to help Leftwich win his first game as a starter in more than six years and insisted all week the offense wouldn't change.

For a fleeting moment, Roethlisberger appeared to be right.

Leftwich went deep on the game's first snap trying to hit Mike Wallace, drawing a pass interference penalty on Baltimore's Cary Williams. Two plays later Leftwich - who joked all week about his lack of speed - bought time in the pocket, rolled to his right and made for the sideline.

Rather than slide or duck out of bounds, the 250-pound Leftwich got a block and raced - in a manner of speaking - 31 yards for a touchdown to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead. Roethlisberger lifted his good arm in the air in celebration after the longest run of Leftwich's career, and the play seemed to give Pittsburgh a sense of confidence.

It didn't last. At least, not on offense.

The Steelers' second possession ended with a Wallace fumble that Ed Reed returned to the Pittsburgh 14. Baltimore managed only a field goal, but it seemed to bring the Steelers back to earth.

If that didn't, Jones did.

The explosive return man drifted under a Drew Butler punt late in the first half, sprinted up the field, cut to the right and zipped untouched to the end zone for his third return touchdown of the season to give Baltimore a 10-7 lead.

``They were trying to set up the outside wall, but I saw nothing but open field to the right so I thought, `Why not go this way?''' Jones said.

Baltimore moved in front 13-7 in the third quarter on Justin Tucker's second field goal, more than enough to help the Ravens take a major step toward their second straight division title.

``They talked about how it was going to be a physical game, how it was going to come down to the end and it lived up to it,'' Graham said. ``It was definitely a great experience. I look forward to it in a couple weeks.''

NOTES: Baltimore TE Dennis Pitta left the game with a concussion in the first quarter and did not return ... Pittsburgh RB Isaac Redman also left with a concussion and did not return ... Pittsburgh RB Rashard Mendenhall had 33 yards in his first game in a month ... The Steelers travel to Cleveland next week while the Ravens play in San Diego.

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Amid Eric Decker rumors, Ravens front office now shifts attention to offensive line

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USA TODAY Sports

Amid Eric Decker rumors, Ravens front office now shifts attention to offensive line

Following the signing of veteran receiver Jeremy Maclin, the Ravens were rumored to be a potential suitor for Eric Decker after his release from the New York Jets. 

Although receiver is a position that must improve, Baltimore owner Steve Bisciotti recently made it clear that the team needs to address the offensive line now. 

The Ravens offensive line faces major changes after right tackle Ricky Wagner signed with the Detroit Lions this offseason, center Jeremy Zuttah was traded to the 49ers, and guard Marshal Yanda is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. 

In the 2016 draft, the Ravens took Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley with the 6th overall pick. Stanley had an impressive rookie campaign, earning AFC North Rookie of the Year in a season where he only allowed three sacks while blocking for Flacco. 

The team added some young talent in this year's draft as well, taking guard Nico Siragusa (No. 122) and Jermaine Eluemunor (No. 159) both in the fourth round. 

However, it is unsure if either rookie is ready to be thrown into the starting offensive line right away.

The Ravens front office may have just made a big splash when signing Jeremy Maclin, but they aren't quite done fixing an offense that has suffered many departures over the years. 

RELATED: JEREMY MACLIN GETS FREE CRAB CAKES FOR LIFE

 

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In addition to signing a two-year deal with the Ravens, WR Jeremy Maclin is getting free crab cakes for life

In addition to signing a two-year deal with the Ravens, WR Jeremy Maclin is getting free crab cakes for life

Like they said in Wedding Crashers: "Crab cakes and football, that's what Maryland does!"

When word got out last week that veteran WR Jeremy Maclin was meeting with the Ravens to possibly pen a deal, one Maryland restaurant took matters into their own hands. 

Jimmy's Seafood, a well known seafood restaurant in Dundalk, Maryland, tweeted at Maclin and presented him with a delicious incentive. 

On Monday, Maclin signed a two-year deal with the Ravens. Maclin was also in talks with the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles, but I guess he prefers crab cakes over buffalo wings and cheese steaks. 

Soon after the deal became official, Maclin responded to Jimmy's Seafood's tweet.

The restaurant has strong relationships with many current and former Ravens such as Tony Jefferson, Torrey Smith and Jonathan Ogden.

CEO of the restaurant, John Minadakis, isn't too worried about supplying the wide receiver with as many crab cakes as he would like.

"How many crab cakes can one person eat?" Minadakis said. "It's not going to take us out of business. That's for sure."

The restaurant is even willing to offer up the same deal to other potential Ravens prospects like Eric Decker, who was released from the Jets on Monday.

Whether or not their offer had that much of an effect on Maclin's decision, the man will be eating good for a very long time. 

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