It really doesn’t matter to the Baltimore Ravens who starts at quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the mission remains the same.
So do the results.
While injured starter Ben Roethlisberger watched from the sideline, Baltimore pounded backup Byron Leftwich during a 13-10 victory on Sunday night that put the Ravens in complete control of the AFC North.
The Ravens (8-2) sacked Leftwich three times, intercepted him once and sent him crumbling to the Heinz Field turf on a handful of occasions as Baltimore built a two-game lead over the Steelers (6-4) heading into the season’s final six weeks.
On a night the offense could get little going against the NFL’s No. 1 defense, Jacoby Jones returned a punt for a touchdown and Justin Tucker kicked two field goals to help the Ravens win their 12th straight game in the division.
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.
Three of those victories have come at Heinz Field, one of the most difficult places to play in the NFL.
Joe Flacco continued his struggles on the road completing 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 to 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 Ravens will travel to San Diego next week to face the Chargers.