Ravens
Steelers
31 - 7 Final
  for this game

McNair throws three TDs in return as Ravens pound Steelers

Dec 24, 2006 - 11:38 PM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- One week after being grounded, "Air McNair" soared once again for the Baltimore Ravens.

Steve McNair threw three touchdown passes and the Ravens delivered another dominant defensive performance en route to a 31-7 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Arguably the key factor to Baltimore's Super Bowl hopes, McNair suffered a minor injury to his throwing hand in last week's win over Cleveland and missed most of the game.

But McNair clearly was not affected by the injury a week later, completing 21-of-31 passes for 256 yards.

Despite being intercepted twice, McNair appeared calm and comfortable in the pocket all day. The former league co-MVP was not sacked once and led the Ravens (12-3) to their eighth win in the last nine games.

"Steve McNair is just a phenomenal athlete," Baltimore coach Brian Billick said. "It's cool how he orchestrates the game. It's a gift to have him with us."

"Steve McNair is a true warrior," Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister said. "He comes out week in and week out and gives us everything he has."

McNair's favorite target was Mark Clayton, who had seven receptions for 108 yards and a TD. Baltimore took the lead for good with four second remaining in the first quarter when McNair found Clayton on a post route for a 35-yard score, which made it 7-0.

Pittsburgh drew within 14-7 just before halftime when Ben Roethlisberger hooked up with tight end Heath Miller for a one-yard TD pass.

But McNair pushed the lead back to 21-7 when McNair lobbed a perfect 25-yard TD pass to rookie Demtrius Williams with 10:39 left in the third quarter.

"I came in motion and just went straight up," said Williams, who has scored in consecutive games. "Steve just made a great throw. I'm just feeling good that I can be involved in the offense and everybody and count on me and make me accountable."

Ironically, McNair was brilliant on a day when he barely needed to be. Baltimore's ferocious defense, which sacked Roethlisberger nine times in a 27-0 win last month, was at its best once again, recording five sacks and forcing three turnovers.

"We're in a prime position to get homefield advantage," said Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who recorded four tackles. "With the way we're playing defense and the way our offense is clicking, we're going to be a hard team to beat in the playoffs."

Roethlisberger completed 15-of-31 attempts for 156 yards, a TD and two interceptions for the Steelers (7-8), who had their three-game winning streak snapped.

Pittsburgh became the first defending Super Bowl champion to miss the postseason the following year since the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who went 7-9 in 2003.

"We got beat by a good football team," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said. "They did a great job with their pass rush. ... We were unable to convert, and it's been like that this whole season. They just executed better."

Meanwhile, Baltimore improved its chance of landing a first-round bye.

The Indianapolis Colts (11-4) suffered a surprising 27-24 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday, meaning that the Ravens simply need a win or a loss by the Colts next week to secure a bye.

"This is a tough place to win," Billick said. "That's a championship-caliber team with all out, all on the line. It was important to them, and the way our guys answered the bell is something to be really proud of."

"The satisfaction is not ending the Steeler season but in what we have to accomplish," McAlister added. "(We are) trying to get homefield advantage for as long as we can. It's not about ending the Steeler season, it's about continuing ours."








  • NFL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    BALTIMORE 7 7 7 10 31
    PITTSBURGH 0 7 0 0 7 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: BAL - TD, MARK CLAYTON 35 YD PASS FROM STEVE
    MCNAIR (MATT STOVER KICK), 14:56.
    Drive: 5 plays, 45 yards in 2:45.
    Key plays: Gardocki 35-yard punt to
    Pittsburgh 45; McNair 1-yard run on
    4th-an

    Dec 24 4:12 PM


  • NFL
    TD BAL
    JAMAL LEWIS 1 YD RUN
    (MATT STOVER KICK)
    BALTIMORE 31
    PITTSBURGH 7 1:57 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Ravens vs. SteelersDec 24 4:03 PM


  • NFL
    FG BAL
    MATT STOVER 26 YD
    BALTIMORE 24
    PITTSBURGH 7 7:27 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Ravens vs. SteelersDec 24 3:49 PM


  • NFL
    END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    BALTIMORE 7 7 7 21
    PITTSBURGH 0 7 0 7 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: BAL - TD, MARK CLAYTON 35 YD PASS FROM STEVE
    MCNAIR (MATT STOVER KICK), 14:56.
    Drive: 5 plays, 45 yards in 2:45.
    Key plays: Gardocki 35-yard punt to
    Pittsburgh 45; McNair 1-yard run on

    Dec 24 3:22 PM


  • NFL
    TD BAL
    DEMETRIUS WILLIAMS 25 YD PASS FROM STEVE MCNAIR
    (MATT STOVER KICK)
    BALTIMORE 21
    PITTSBURGH 7 10:39 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Ravens vs. SteelersDec 24 2:47 PM


  • NFL
    HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    BALTIMORE 7 7 14
    PITTSBURGH 0 7 7 HALFTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: BAL - TD, MARK CLAYTON 35 YD PASS FROM STEVE
    MCNAIR (MATT STOVER KICK), 14:56.
    Drive: 5 plays, 45 yards in 2:45.
    Key plays: Gardocki 35-yard punt to
    Pittsburgh 45; McNair 1-yard run on
    4th

    Dec 24 2:27 PM


  • NFL
    TD PIT
    HEATH MILLER 1 YD PASS FROM BEN ROETHLISBERGER
    (JEFF REED KICK)
    BALTIMORE 14
    PITTSBURGH 7 0:07 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Ravens vs. SteelersDec 24 2:24 PM


  • NFL
    TD BAL
    DANIEL WILCOX 1 YD PASS FROM STEVE MCNAIR
    (MATT STOVER KICK)
    BALTIMORE 14
    PITTSBURGH 0 3:26 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Ravens vs. SteelersDec 24 2:05 PM


  • NFL
    BALTIMORE 7
    PITTSBURGH 0 0:00 LEFT, 1ST QTR
    PIT BALL ON PIT 24 YD LINE
    1ST AND 10

    Dec 24 1:39 PM


  • NFL
    TD BAL
    MARK CLAYTON 35 YD PASS FROM STEVE MCNAIR
    (MATT STOVER KICK)
    BALTIMORE 7
    PITTSBURGH 0 0:04 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Ravens vs. SteelersDec 24 1:36 PM