Sunday, September 11, 2011
Ravens dismantle Steelers
On a day where football fans tried to keep things in perspective, being the tenth anniversary of September 11, 2011, it was tough to bottle up the emotions and relief that came along with a 35-6 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Baltimore.
The Ravens hadn't beaten a Ben Roethlisberger-led team since 2006, and since Joe Flacco had been in the league, he'd previously been winless against Roethlisberger in head-to-head match ups. The subject had been the topic of many criticisms against Flacco. But he shed that criticism in a big way, throwing for 224 yards and 3 TD's in the win. In fact, shedding criticism became the theme for the day for the Ravens.
Flacco a slow starter?
He throws for a touchdown on the third play of the game.
Can't run on the Steelers defense?
Ray Rice rushes for 107 yards and a score, and the Ravens rush for 170 total yards.
Can't finish off the Steelers?
The Ravens forced 7 turnovers (a Steelers record) and put the game away in the 3rd quarter.
Will the Ravens be OK without Derrick Mason?
Anquan Boldin, 4 catches, 74 yards, 1 TD.
Will the Ravens miss Todd Heap?
Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta combined for 7 catches and 104 yards receiving.
The offensive line played great, giving Flacco all kinds of time to throw and opening running lanes for Rice. Flacco was sacked only once. Vonta Leach punished Steelers defenders, paving the way for the running game.
Meanwhile, the defense was on the prowl, delivering blows left and right. It didn't matter who they hit, as long as they were wearing black and gold. Haloti Ngata flatted Rashard Mendenhall and forced a fumble, which Hgata recovered. Jarret Johnson upended Hines Ward, wiping that perma-smirk off of his face. And Ben Roethlisberger was cut down several times. It's a wonder he was able to continue playing after taking some of the hits he received. I'm sure the talk of nagging injury will begin with Roethisberger now.
The biggest noticeable thing, though, was the Ravens aggressiveness. They attacked the Steelers secondary on the first drive. They went for a two-point conversion early in the 3rd quarter to go up 29-7. They went for it on 4th and 1 on the Pittsburgh 8 yard line shortly after the two pointer coversion, but were unable to move the chains. But much of the aggressiveness came with the execution of Cam Cameron's playcalling. Gone were the horrible end-arounds, but Cameron stuck with the run and it worked. Just goes to show you how much better play-calling cam look when players execute.
In short, the experience at the stadium yesterday was amazing. To get the monkey off their backs, the Ravens have to be feeling good moving forward. They just humiliated their most hated rival to start the season. Steeler fans were fleeing the stadium en masse during the 3rd and 4th quarters, their yellow rags between their legs. The tribute to the 9/11 victims and soldiers was heartfelt. And the "Seven Nation Army" chant taught on and people were still chanting it on the way out of the stadium after the game was in the books.
It doesn't get much better than that. We're alive, the Ravens won, and they beat the Steelers.
Next week the Ravens play the Titans in Tennessee.