Ray Lewis: Don't Blame Baltimore Defense for Playoff Loss
So who's to blame for Baltimore's heartbreaking collapse? According to Ray Lewis, not his defense.
"I tell you time and time again, the No. 1 thing you cannot do is turn the ball over in the red zone," Lewis told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "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."
After the Baltimore defense forced a three-and-out on the first drive of the second half, the Ravens offense was faced with a third-and-14 on their own 18-yard line. The normally sure-handed Ray Rice, who hadn't fumbled once in 370 touches during the regular season, put the ball on the ground. Pittsburgh scored two plays after LaMarr Woodley recovered the fumble.
Two possessions later, Joe Flacco threw an interception, setting the Pittsburgh offense up at the Baltimore 25. The Steelers scored their second TD of the quarter four plays later. Flacco then fumbled two plays into the Ravens' next drive, giving the ball to Pittsburgh on the Baltimore 23-yard line. The Steelers would take the lead on a field goal in the ensuing drive.
"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."
Baltimore would go on to tie the game with a field goal after a Lardarius Webb punt return gave the Ravens a short field. The Steelers started their next drive on their own 35-yard line and marched the ball 65 yards in 11 plays to score the game-winning touchdown with 93 seconds left on the clock.
The Steelers will face the New York Jets in the AFC championship on Sunday in Pittsburgh.