PITTSBURGH — Haloti Ngata engulfed an offensive lineman, tossing him aside like an inanimate blocking dummy.
Gaining momentum, the Baltimore Ravens’ massive and mobile Pro Bowl defensive tackle burst into the Pittsburgh Steelers’ backfield to deliver a devastating hit on quarterback Charlie Batch on the fourth play of the game.
It was only a preview of things to come from Ngata, who was unblockable during the Ravens’ 17-14 victory over the Steelers on Sunday at Heinz Field.
Ngata racked up a game-high and career-high 11 tackles to go with one sack, two tackles for losses and two quarterback hits.
He was simply dominant as he lined up at defensive end throughout the game with starting defensive end Cory Redding sidelined with a concussion.
"Haloti’s a beast," rookie nose guard Terrence Cody said. "That’s why he’s the best in the league."
Few would argue that point based on this game where Ngata did practically whatever he wanted.
Ngata shed blocks. He penetrated the backfield. He even dropped back into coverage and nearly crushed Ravens cornerback Fabian Washington when a Batch pass popped into the air.
"Yeah, I love playing these guys," Ngata said. "I was just able to make some plays. They kept running it my way and I was able to make those plays."
Ngata is a humble man of few words. He’s not prone to beating his chest after a win or a strong performance.
This was one of the top games of his NFL career, though.
The 6-foot-4, 350-pounder also leveled Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall in the open field, planting him into the ground with a big-time hit that rocked Mendenhall’s head back.
"I think it was a passing package and they kind of checked to a run," said Ngata, a former first-round draft pick from Oregon. "I just read it and kind of followed it and I was able to stick Mendenhall."
And this victory was particularly satisfying for Ngata considering it’s the first time the Ravens have won at Heinz Field since they swept the Steelers in 2006.
"Great," Ngata said. "I haven’t won here since my rookie year. It’s real tough to win out here and it’s great to come out with a win."
Prior to the Ravens’ game-winning drive capped by quarterback Joe Flacco’s 18-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the defense stuffed the Steelers on three consecutive runs.
Ngata said the defense was confident it would be able to halt the Steelers and give the offense a final chance to come back and finish the game.
"As a defense, we just try to get the ball back for the offseason," Ngata said. "We’re able to do it sometimes. The offense did a great job."