Football is really a game of emotion, and when you look at a matchup between two teams you can’t just look at what’s there on paper. You have to look at the context that surrounds each match-up.
The circumstances of this Sunday’s game remind me of two Ravens week tilts of the past, and I’m hoping it’s more like one than the other.
Those first game was a November 5th, 2007 game on Monday Night Football that the Steelers won 38-7. The other was a November 6th, 2011 game which the Steelers lost 23-20.
I’ll start with the bad…
Ask anyone that bets on game, and they’ll tell you to pay close attention to what happened to a team the previous week. Sometimes when a team is coming off a big, emotional, victory they tend to have a let-down the following game.
Anyone remember beating the Ravens in 2008 and then getting flattened by the Titans a week later in the infamous Lendale White towel stomp game?
In 2011 the Steelers traveled to New England to knock of a team that’s owned the Steelers in recent history. The Steelers were sitting at 6-2 following that win. They had momentum, a monkey off their back, and were coming home to face the Ravens.
They lose a hard fought, typical Ravens week game after that big Patriots victory.
Obviously the Colts don’t have the sort of rivalry with Pittsburgh that the Patriots had, but this was still a big win. The Steelers offense finally clicked, and more importantly the defense got pressure and rattled a very good quarterback.
The Steelers under Mike Tomlin seem to step up when their backs are against a wall, and ease off the gas when they feel confident. Hopefully that’s not a trend that continues this week.
Now for the game we want to remember…
In 2007 the Steelers were coming off of a close divisional win in Cincinnati, to come home and face the Ravens on Monday Night Football.
That was the Steelers 75th season, and Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Joe Greene, and Jack Ham were part of a ceremony at halftimes honoring the Steelers all-time team.
The Steelers legends were out there before the game with terrible towels, and Heinz field was rocking that night. I don’t think it’s any coincidence it was the next season that the Ravens requested not to play at Heinz field in prime-time games anymore.
It was in that game that James Harrison earned his nickname “Mr. Monday Night,” forcing two fumbles, recovering one, intercepting a pass and collecting 2.5 sacks before halftime. He finished the night with 10 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
Ben Roethlisberger also had a big night, throwing 5 touchdown passes all in the first half. He finished the game 13 of 16 for 209 yards and 5 touchdowns, with no turnovers.
As the Ravens said the next season, the Steelers know how to work up the crowd at Heinz when they need it the most…
So it’s no coincidence that Joe Greene personally picked this game to have his jersey retired. Greene knows that a win over the Ravens is almost like 2 wins in the division standings.
Hines Ward said after that game in 2007, “you want to put on a show for those guys.” Hopefully the Steelers will feel the same way knowing THE Steelers legend will be in-house on Sunday night.