There was more riding on Sunday's Steelers/Ravens game than previously thought.
The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens look like the champagne they consumed in the form of a league championship is causing a huge headache and massive gut rot.
They look hungover. And Steelers fans should know. The last time a defending Super Bowl champion has been below .500 after playing seven games was the Super Bowl hungover Steelers of 2006.
Ravens are 1st defending champ with losing record through 7 games since 2006 Steelers— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 20, 2013
The Ravens got a pretty solid game from quarterback Joe Flacco, who carved the Steelers' defense up over a 16-play, 73-yard drive that ate up 8:01 in the fourth quarter. He followed the anti-Steelers formula to a T - short, crisp and quick passes. Wash, rinse and repeat.
At some point, the Steelers defense needed to make a play, but it never came, complete with Ryan Clark having lost Dallas Clark in the end zone, leading to the easiest touchdown throw Flacco's ever made.
Outside of that, Flacco doesn't appear to trust his receivers. He's improved with each of the past four times he's played the Steelers, and didn't appear to have thrown a pass that was anywhere near a defender all game. He finished 24-for-34 for 215 yards and a touchdown, and did not turn the ball over.
The Steelers got over their non-playoff hangover, particularly on offense, but shutting down Baltimore's aggressive pass rush. What's most impressive is they did it with Kelvin Beachum making his second start, and Guy Whimper replacing the injured Marcus Gilbert just a few plays into the game. Gilbert had been nursing a quadriceps injury all week, and to his credit, tried to get out there.
Whimper was solid in relief. For the most part, OLB Elvis Dumervil attacked from the right offensive edge, and had as many tackles (three) as penalties (three overall, two on one play).
These things didn't happen much, if at all, in the prior five games the Steelers played this year.
Maybe their opponent was just hungover. But maybe they found the right recipe in their offensive line.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Steelers win second in a row: All news and updates after 19-16 win over Ravens
- Ravens vs. Steelers final score: Suisham hits second consecutive game-winning field goal to sink Ravens 19-16
- Troy Polamalu's ill-timed block attempt
- First Ravens/Steelers game in which neither Flacco nor Roethlisberger turned the ball over
- Winners and Losers from Steelers' 19-16 win over Ravens
- Steelers Suisham heroic for second time against Ravens
- Brett Keisel injury: Steelers lose defensive end at end of third quarter
- Marcus Gilbert injury: Steelers right tackle questionable to return with quadriceps injury