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Ravens top Steelers 13-10, control AFC North race


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.


Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP


Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Fantasy Football: Week 7 Waiver Wire

Fantasy Football: Week 7 Waiver Wire

Whether you're in bye week hell wth six teams off, dealing with umpteen injuries or just always in the hunt for more fantasy football help, here's a look at some likely free agent options for Week 8.

Quarterbacks – Because Eli Manning is hanging on Peyton's couch this week and Ben Roethlisberger is hurt.

1.  Ryan Fitzpatrick, NYJ
2.  Alex Smith, KC
3.  Ryan Tannehill, MIA
4.  Landry Jones, PIT

* It's reasonable to be like the Jets organization and show Fitzpatrick no love, but there's plenty to like in a matchup against a Browns defense that has allowed at least 17 touchdown passes in seven games and at least two each week. This option is so tempting that Philip Rivers (at San Diego) owners could consider going with the New York guy and just hope he's more FitzMagic than FitzTragic. 

Running Backs Because Le'Veon Bell and Jay Ajayi are on byes and you're not sure what to think of the Bears backfield.

1.  Chris Thompson, WAS
2.  Matt Asiata, MIN
3.  Dion Lewis, NE
4.  Ka'Deem Carey, CHI
5.  Wendell Smallwood, PHI
6.  Don Jackson, GB
7.  Justin Forsett, DET
8.  Zach Zenner, DET

* Don't expect a planned heavy workload for Thompson despite his impressive efficiency (113 yards from scrimmage on 19 touches), but he's the main man if Washington trails Cincinnati. With so many teams on byes, PPR leagues can view the scatback as a low-end RB2. ... Lewis could return soon from his injury. While James White is making plays as Tom Brady's pass-catching back, the oomph Lewis provided last season makes him a strong sign-and-stash option.

Wide Receivers – Because Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham are on byes and you didn't plan for that reality.

1.  Davante Adams, GB
2.  Jamison Crowder, WAS
3.  Corey Coleman, CLE
4.  Marquise Goodwin, BUF
5.  Marqise Lee, JAC
6.  Tajae Sharpe, TEN
7.  Russell Shepard, TB
8.  Victor Cruz, NYG
9.  Anquan Boldin, DET
10.  Brian Quick, LA
11.  Kenny Stills, MIA
12.  Brandon LaFell, CIN
13.  Cordarrelle Patterson, MIN
14.  Darrius Heyward-Bey, PIT
15.  Kamar Aiken, BAL
16.  Rishard Matthews, TEN

* Adams is my overall No. 1 free agent this week. Here's what  wrote on the matter for FantasyPros.com:

“Davante Adams had a severe case of the drops last season, but the talent was apparent. Now he’s putting it together and most of all, the opportunities are coming his way. With the Packers run game a mess, more passes from Aaron Rodgers seems logical, which means more pass catching opportunities. Adams tops Jamison Crowder among receivers because his weekly role is clearer, though the Redskins’ slot threat continues to standout.”

Tight Ends  Because Dennis Pitta is on a bye and you're starting to wonder if Travis Kelce will get going

1.  Jack Doyle, IND
2.  Vernon Davis, WAS
3.  Ladarius Green, PIT
4.  Jacob Tamme, ATL

Here's a tweet about that stunning Doyle machine.

Though his matchup against Kansas City isn't great, Doyle is the top option here based on the big picture. Davis has the better matchup (Bengals 25th against fantasy tight ends), but it's possible Jordan Reed (concussion) returns this week. ...Green (ankle) begins practicing this week after starting the season on the PUP list. Before the injury, the ex-Charger screamed top-10 option. Don't expect that version in his first game next week against a Ravens defense that's allowed the third fewest points to fantasy tight ends, but the upside is real.* 

Defenses – Because you stream this position

1. Jets (at Browns)

2. Titans (vs. Jaguars)

3. Browns (vs. Jets)

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Ravens' Terrell Suggs vows to play against Steelers despite pain of torn biceps

Ravens' Terrell Suggs vows to play against Steelers despite pain of torn biceps

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said he would play Week 9 against the Steelers, despite having a torn biceps that kept him out Week 7 against the Jets. The Ravens have a bye Week 8, giving Suggs extra time to get ready.

Suggs was asked Tuesday why he opted to play through the injury he suffered Week 6 agaisnt the Giatns, rather than have surgery. He acted almost offended. Suggs also played with a torn biceps in 2012.

“Man, who am I?” Suggs said. “What team do I play for? I come from an era where this is just a bump in the road. It may be season-ending for somebody else, but it is not season-ending for a Raven. I played through it before.

“I can play through it, and I am going to play through it. It is most definitely a pain tolerance thing. But it is also a win tolerance thing – how much you want to win and how much you want to play…I am not going on IR unless I absolutely have to, if I tear another Achilles or something.”

Suggs is also motivated to play through the injury because the Ravens (3-4) have lost four straight, and the Steelers are their archrivals.

“Go out there and play against your greatest foe,” Suggs said.

Suggs returned to practice Tuesday wearing a brace on his arm, something he didn’t do in 2012 after tearing his biceps.

“It is just something to help me diminish the pain,” Suggs said. “It is going to hurt regardless. They offered me a brace (in 2012), but I was young and dumb. I wanted to be the Hulk. ‘No, I’m not going out there with no brace. Tape it and let’s go!’ I am damn sure going to wear one now.”   

MORE RAVENS: Terrell Suggs and Marshal Yanda return to practice