Today’s Flashback Friday revisits what is arguably the most satisfying regular season win in Ravens history: the opener of the 2011 season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This game serves as a fitting tribute to the news that both Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu have officially retired. But more on that in just a bit.
As you probably know, the Ravens positively pulverized the Steelers on that day after a 35-7 shellacking. I remember Phil Simms stating in his pregame “keys to the game” that the Steelers were the better team, but the home crowd of the Ravens would probably “help even things out” on the field.
Hey, Phil. You were wrong. But thanks for trying.
The Ravens’ offense got off to a blazing start on the opening drive of the game. A 36 yard run by Ray Rice started off the drive, and a 27 yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin ended the drive two plays later. That little three play drive set tone for the remainder of the game. Later in the 1st, Terrell Suggs strip sacked Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger on the Steelers’ 2nd drive that eventually led to a Ray Rice touchdown a few plays later.
Side note: Anyone remember when Terrell Suggs said “His soul may belong to God, but his a$$ belongs to me” in reference to Roethlisberger? Tact aside, Sizzle was 100% right.
The Ravens went into halftime of the game leading 21-7. If you recall, that was the same halftime score of the playoff game that ended the Ravens’ season the year prior. The Steelers eventually came back to win that game. So naturally, Jim Nantz was all kinds of excited to announce that fact in the hopes of another Steelers comeback.
Sorry, Jimbo…didn’t happen.
So anyway, the second half opened up with Rashard Mendenhall running into the proverbial brick wall that is Haloti Ngata, resulting in a fumble recovery for the Ravens. That was a slobber knocker.https://youtu.be/0rmGQN-DGyw
The Ravens scored on the next play, an 18-yard pass from Joe Flacco to Ed Dickson. My favorite part of that play was watching Dickson literally sprint right past Troy Polamalu to catch the pass in the back of the end zone. The Ravens delivered another gut punch on the very next play when Sam Koch sprinted into the end zone on a fake extra point attempt to put the Ravens up 29-7.
Side note number two: I absolutely loved how Steelers fans cry-babied after that play, claiming the Ravens were running up the score. Didn’t Nantz just remind you all of the Steelers’ comeback the previous season when the halftime score was the same as it was in this game? C’mon, guys. Jim Nantz, one of the most respected announcers in the world, just explained how this game was still up for grabs. And now, two plays later, the Ravens are being unfair? Classic Steelers fans! Patriots fans may be the most obnoxious, but Steelers fans are the most delusional.
Later in the 3rd, Troy Polamalu found himself in a fight with Ray Rice that started when Polamalu allegedly twisted Rice’s ankles following a play. Video replays weren’t definitive, but Ike Taylor was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct during the brawl that followed. A loud “Steelers suck” chant rang throughout M&T Bank stadium afterwards as well. That chant was fun, but I’m guessing Troy Polamalu wasn’t having any, and he got a lil’ upset about it.
Early in the 4th, a long Steelers drive abruptly ended when Ed Reed picked off Ben Roethlisberger at the one-yard line. Jarret Johnson obliterated Hines Ward during Reed’s return. Hines Ward is my least favorite player in the history of everything sports, so this was especially satisfying. Good game, Hines.
Reed picked off Ben again just two drives later.
Other than being outhustled by Ed Dickson and intentionally (allegedly) trying to injure Ray Rice, Troy Polamalu was pretty invisible this game. Meanwhile, Ed Reed had 6 tackles and 2 INTs. Who is the better safety of all-time? That’s a rhetorical question. You all know the answer to that.
Ray Lewis also had an INT and a forced fumble in the game. The Ravens won 35-7 behind Joe Flacco’s 224 yards passing and 3 TDs. The Ravens forced a total of seven Steelers turnovers in the game. Seven.
Maybe that’s what the delusional Pennsylvanians mean by “Stairway to Seven.”
This game was cathartic to say the least.