Go ahead and get your brooms out because Joe Flacco and the Ravens accomplished what has only been done once in the entire 16 year history of the franchise, they swept the division rival Pittsburgh Steelers.
Last night gave us everything we expected from a Ravens-Steelers matchup. The Ravens came out firing early as Ray Rice appeared to break loose for a 76 yard touchdown, which unfortunately was called back due to holding call on wide receiver Torrey Smith.
Don’t worry he would make up for it later.
Rice was denied yet again on the same drive after a quick whistle blew the play dead before Rice got a push from his line, stopping forward progress and forcing the Ravens to settle for 3.
After the first half it felt a rerun of the LSU Alabama game as the score was separated by a field goal with the Ravens holding on to a 9-6 advantage. My stomach was in knots as this seemed to be shaping up like every other heartbreaker we have endured over the years, Ravens get a bad call, don’t convert in the end zone, Pittsburgh still hanging on. I’m sure I speak for most fans in saying it was all too familiar as we watched Pittsburgh march down the field and erase a fourth quarter lead before Big Ben in the most Roethlisberger like manor tossed a bullet to mike Wallace to give the Steelers a 20-16 lead with just under 5 minutes left to play.
My heart sank.
Not again, I couldn’t believe we were about to watch the same movie for what seemed like the hundredth time. After a Ravens three-and-out with 4:30 left to play I still had this feeling they could pull it out. You tell yourself the same thing every fan does in this situation
OK they need a quick stop here, there is still time.
If they get a turnover they are in great field position, there is still time.
They have to win this they want it too much, there is still time.
Well there was still time despite the Steelers moving the ball down to the Ravens 29 yard line with the field goal unit about to extend the lead to 7 a monumental delay of game penalty moved the Steelers just out of field goal range and head coach Mike Tomlin opted to pin the Ravens deep in their own territory rather than attempt a long field goal.
It was the right decision, but it didn’t matter.
With the Ravens defense doing their part and now kneeling on the sideline, they watched as Joe Flacco and the Offense took the field for one last drive with 2:24 left on the clock. They call him “Joe Cool” because he never shows emotion, they say nothing bothers him. After watching Joe Cool lead the offense down the field going 7 for 13 and 92 yards capitalized by a Torrey Smith 26 yard touchdown pass, after dropping what should have been a sure catch four plays earlier. They should call him “Joe Absolute Zero” because nothing could shake his confidence on that final drive. Joe kept firing, he ignored dropped balls and went right back to his play makers and they came through for him.
Not to mention all this at the expense of the NFL’s number 2 overall defense.
This left only 8 seconds on the clock for Pittsburgh in a stunned and silent Heinz Field. Eight seconds wouldn’t be enough time as the Steelers fell 23-20 to the Ravens and down to third place in the AFC North.
I mentioned in my last blog that win or lose this season is not over. Although the Ravens now hold the power to determine whether or not they get a first round bye and a home playoff game they still have 4 divisional games and a matchup with the 7-1 49ers who boast the top rush defense in the league. Although there is every reason in the world to be confident that this Ravens team can earn a home playoff game, Cincinnati is 6-2 and has always given the Ravens a headache in the past. There is still a lot of football to be played, but the Ravens control their destiny and are sitting pretty in the standings.
This should be one interesting second half of the season.