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Rice's touchdown gives Ravens 16-6 lead over Steelers after 3 quarters of key AFC North game
PITTSBURGH (AP) ' Ray Rice had a 4-yard touchdown run, Billy Cundiff made three of four first-half field-goal attempts and the Baltimore Ravens held a 16-6 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers at the end of the third quarter of a crucial AFC North game Sunday night.
Rice's touchdown came with 4:27 left in the third quarter to cap a 12-play drive that lasted more than six minutes. The possession was aided by a pass interference call on Pittsburgh's Ike Taylor two snaps earlier that gave the Ravens a first-and-goal at the 4.
Rice had 15 carries for 37 yards, and Joe Flacco was 18 for 28 for 180 yards for the Ravens (5-2), who are looking to sweep their bitter rivals and move past them in the division.
Cundiff had field goals of 18, 43 and 51 yards, the latter coming on the final play of the first half. Cundiff also missed from 40 yards, and Pittsburgh's Shaun Suisham kicked field goals of 36 and 30 yards in a game befitting the NFL's two best statistical defenses.
The Ravens converted 10 of 14 third downs and had 224 yards of offense against the team that ranks No. 2 in the NFL in defense, trailing only Baltimore.
Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger was 14 for 26 for 235 yards ' but Terrell Suggs intercepted him on the first drive of the second half with the Steelers at the Baltimore 14.
The Steelers (6-2) have won four consecutive games and are 6-1 since a 35-7 blowout loss at Baltimore in the season opener.
Baltimore took the opening kickoff and held the ball for 14 plays and 6:50, getting a first-and-goal at the 1 after a pass interference call on William Gay in the end zone.
But Ryan Clark nearly intercepted Flacco's pass on the ensuing play, and Rice was stuffed running up the middle on the next two plays, setting up Cundiff's first field goal.
Rice had taken the first play from scrimmage 76 yards into the end zone, but the play was called back for a holding penalty on Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith.
Baltimore's second field goal that gave it the lead again came at the end of a 10-play drive in the second quarter.
A week after holding the ball for almost 40 minutes in a 25-17 win over New England, the Steelers had less possession time than the Ravens through three quarters.
The Steelers drove to the Baltimore 18 early in the second quarter, but the drive stalled after Hines Ward could not hold onto a pass near the first-down marker on third-and-7 due to a helmet-to-helmet hit from Ray Lewis.
Ward left the game with a stinger and his return was questionable. Ward, who missed last week's win over New England due to an ankle injury, was sitting on the sideline without his helmet.
Suisham's second field goal came with 1:05 left in the first half, but Davis Reed returned the ensuing kickoff 32 yards. That ' along with a personal foul call on Clark for hitting a defenseless receiver ' allowed Flacco to drive the Ravens in position for another Cundiff field goal.
Pittsburgh has beaten Baltimore six of the previous nine meetings ' including in playoff games following the 2008 and '10 seasons. That includes five of the past six played at Heinz Field, although the Ravens did win here in the regular season last season.
The previous meeting was the Ravens' most lopsided victory in the 15-year series between the teams. In that game, Baltimore sacked Roethlisberger four times and forced seven turnovers.
Pittsburgh, though, has just two turnovers during its four-game winning streak.
Flacco had three touchdown passes in the September meeting against the Steelers, but has only five since.
Pittsburgh welcomed back former All-Pro linebacker James Harrison, who had missed the past four games since sustaining a broken orbital bone in a loss at Houston. Harrison had his third sack of the season late in the second quarter.
Former Pro Bowl linebackers James Farrior and LaMarr Woodley are not active for the Steelers due to injury. Also inactive for Pittsburgh was nose tackle Chris Hoke and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
The winner of the game keeps pace in the division with Cincinnati (6-2).
This is the fifth consecutive season these two teams have played a prime-time game.