The Steelers 0-4 start revealed that the answers to those individual “if’s” were all in the negative. Worse yet, the collective meaning of provided a portrait of a team learning to lose.
- Last week vs. the Jets, the Steelers managed to break that cycle.
What the Steelers victory over Baltimore showed was that life in the NFL is a series of “Ifs” and the question isn’t so much if the answers are negative or positive, but in how you deal with them.
Setting a Tone
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens yield nothing to the rest of the NFL when it comes to the intensity of their rivalry. The NFL Flims writers who are scribes of era of Vince Lombardi and the Ice Bowl could not have scripted Steelers-Ravens games better:
- Hard hitting
- Down to the wire action
- Dramatic, game-changing plays
- Overcoming odds
After exchanging punts, the Steelers got the ball on their 40 thanks to an 18 yard punt return by Antonio Brown. With Marcus Gilbert injured, Todd Haley went to his bag of tricks, which included reverses to Brown, splitting Ben Roethlisberger wide, and pounding Le’Veon Bell either via handoff or direct snap.
- The Steelers rewarded the creativity of their offensive coordinator with a touchdown on a shovel pass to Health Miller.
In what was one of the key plays of the game, on 3rd and 1 Steve McLendon overpowered the Ravens offensive line to completely stuff Bernard Pierce for a one yard loss.
- The Ravens responded with a field goal, but the Steelers responded in kind.
- Like other Steelers-Ravens game, this one was going to be about who wanted it more – and a little something else
Normally you’d criticize settling for field goals instead of touchdowns in the Red Zone – but if you get lemons, make lemonade.
- The next drive it was the Steelers defense’s turn to drive that lesson home.
- Unlike the Steelers, the Ravens were unable to squeeze any juice out of their lemon.
- That’s a very, very dangerous gift to give the defending Super Bowl Champions.
While the Steelers were attempting to close out the first half, Behind the Steel Curtain Editor Neal Coolong offered this precautionary tweet:
Big sack by 56. Need to keep #Ravens offense off the field the rest of the half. They figure things out most second halves, need a cushionYou don’t ascend to the status of defending Super Bowl Champions for by accident. The Baltimore Ravens title defense has been rocky, but they’ve made second half adjustments.
— Neal Coolong (@NealCoolong) October 20, 2013
In the first half the Steelers protected Ben Roethlisberger fairly well…
- In the second half the Ravens got to him.
- In the second half, not so much.
- In the second half, the Ravens took much of that away.
- In the second half the Ravens turned the tables and reversed the Red Zone score card.
- Flacco willed the Ravens to a tying touchdown
And so it was. The Ravens had just tied the game with 1:58 remaining, and Emmanuel Sanders was deep into his own end zone to return a kick. Sanders fielded the kick. He took off. He didn’t stop until he got to the End Zone. Touchdown Steelers!
- But not so fast.
Suisham split the uprights.
And the Pittsburgh Steelers won 19-16. And therein lies the lesson.
On their final two possessions, the Steelers and Ravens both demonstrated how much they “wanted it” Flacco with his poise, Sanders with his return. Both teams encountered their share of adversity. Both teams make mistakes.
- But the Steelers won because they transformed adversity into advantage more consistently than Baltimore.
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