The Pittsburgh Steelers have lost two straight games. No one is going to feel bad for them and nobody knows that as much as Head Coach Mike Tomlin who is tasked with righting the ship this coming Sunday. But this isn’t just another game or even just another division game. This is Baltimore and this is John Harbaugh who has out-coached Tomlin at nearly every turn in recent years.
Since the Steelers defeated the Ravens 31-24 in the AFC Playoffs in 2011, things have not gone well for Tomlin and the Steelers. The two teams have met 11 times including once in the playoffs. During that time, the Ravens have won eight of 11 games and defeated the Steelers at home in that one playoff match-up. The Steelers have also dropped three straight in the series.
As much as we discuss our series with Cincinnati not being a rivalry because of our dominance, Baltimore is getting to the point where they could actually say the same about us. That’s sad, but it’s true.
During the recent run of Ravens’ success, they’ve beaten the Steelers by an average of nearly 24 to 15. During the Steelers’ three wins they’ve beaten the Ravens by a score of 28-20. There are two games that stand out from the rest. Baltimore had a 35-7 win in 2011 and the Steelers had a 43-23 win. Take those games out things tighten up substantially. In Baltimore’s case the margin of victory drops to about five points per game while in Pittsburgh’s situation the margin drops to just three points.
When you have close games as often as these two have had, it comes down to coaching and execution. Right now, advantage John Harbaugh.
We can dig deeper and address how often Ben Roethlisberger has missed games against the Ravens but I’m not going there. Last season the Steelers went into Baltimore with a chance to clinch a playoff berth. They were facing a team ravaged by injury and led by quarterback Ryan Mallett. The Steelers would leave M&T Bank Field with their tail between their legs and would also need help to get into the postseason.
With the exception of Big Ben’s six touchdown performance in 2014, Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Dean Pees have largely held the Steelers’ offense in check. If Mike Tomlin is going to break this current string of Ravens’ success then he’s gonna need some help from Todd Haley who has to out-coach Pees.
Steelers’ fans in general can tolerate very few things and of late it has been losses to “lesser teams” on the road. Nothing however grinds our gears quite like consistently losing to Baltimore. Tomlin can re-build a lot of faith this coming Sunday with a victory and I for one certainly hope he gets it. For his sake as much as our own.