The way it was scripted, the Ravens were supposed to be speed bumps that the Browns (or perhaps the Steelers) passed over on their way to the AFC North Division title.
Cleveland started weakly, the Steelers have been inconsistent, and the Ravens, if not resurgent, showed that they have plenty of fight in them.
The Steelers won a 23-20 overtime battle of attrition against the Ravens on Monday night. However, it was a costly victory, and one has to wonder if they do not emerge from it in a weaker position to wage the ensuing war.
- Big Ben got tossed around like a rag doll in the first half
- Rashard Mendenhall was limited to 3.3 yards per carry, although he did show some flashes -- he's out for the rest of the year
- Kendall Simmons, the one supposed pillar of stability on the offensive line, is out for the year
Its true that the Steelers primetime players looked sharp when the chips were down Monday night. You don't get 14 point swings in 15 seconds too often.
And, the Steelers closed out a close one in the final moments, something which has been rare in the Mike Tomlin era.... Still the fact that the Ravens were able to tie the game is bothersome.
But a win is a win, and if the defense did disappoint by letting the Ravens back into the game, they delivered in overtime.
The Steelers have uncontested control of the AFC North, but the road ahead of them nonetheless now looks more complicated.