I guess it doesn’t matter who starts at quarterback for the Steelers when they take on the Ravens.
It doesn’t matter if it’s Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Vick or Byron Leftwich, Baltimore has Pittsburgh’s number.
And it also doesn’t seem to matter if Ryan Mallett is signed off the streets as a last resort to replace an injured Joe Flacco’s ineffective backups, the Ravens have the Steelers number.
Remember that glorious 2008 season in-which Pittsburgh performed a trifecta on the Ravens by beating them three times on route to Super Bowl XLIII—twice in the regular season and once more in the AFC Championship Game at Heinz Field?
Regarding that AFC title game, since the moment Troy Polamalu intercepted a Flacco pass late in the fourth quarter and returned it 43-yards for the clinching score, Baltimore has a 10-6 record against the Steelers.
And three of Pittsburgh’s six wins happened during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. What that means is, since that thrilling evening when the Steelers stormed back to defeat Baltimore in the divisional round following the 2010 season, Pittsburgh is 3-9 against the Ravens.
What used to be an even match-up that was once considered the greatest rivalry in the NFL, has now become a lopsided affair in favor of the folks who wear and support the purple and white.
That night two years ago, when Roethlisberger threw six touchdowns in a 43-23 thumping of the Ravens at Heinz Field was glorious. The organization honored the legendary Joe Greene by retiring his No. 75; the fans mocked Terrell Suggs at the end of the night—you couldn’t have asked for a better way to enjoy a 60-minute upper-hand in a pretty intense rivalry.
Unfortunately, that was the last time Pittsburgh enjoyed a 60-minute upper-hand in the rivalry. Since that night, Baltimore has defeated the Steelers four-straight times and has limited their high-powered offense to a combined 68 points (or 17 points per thumping) and a grand-total of seven touchdowns.
That is quite the one-sided rivalry.
Included in Baltimore’s nine victories since 2011 are two season sweeps (2011 and 2015) and a wild card win at Heinz Field (2014). And you can forget about the Steelers winning at M&T Bank Stadium, which hasn’t happened since 2012 (Charlie Batch started at quarterback) and only twice since 2008 (Baltimore has won five times at Heinz field in that same span).
It’s to the point now where, unlike, say against the Bengals, it’s hard to feel confident when analyzing “Ravens Week,” a Mike Tomlin coined phrase that used to get you excited about that portion of Pittsburgh’s schedule.
I think the 2015 season-sweep exemplified the hold the Ravens have had over Pittsburgh in recent years.
For starters, there was that Week 4 match-up at Heinz Field just days after Roethlisberger suffered a sprained MCL against the Rams.
Vick started that game at quarterback, and despite signing with Pittsburgh a little more than a month earlier, he managed his team to a 20-17 lead in the final moments. By all rights, the Steelers should have won the game, but two Josh Scobee field goal misses over the final 2:29 kept Baltimore alive. Justin Tucker didn’t miss on his 42-yard game-tying attempt at the end of regulation and later on his 52-yard game-winning attempt in overtime.
After that loss, Steelers insider Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said it was the lowest he’d seen a post-game locker room in quite some time. That makes sense, considering Pittsburgh took the play to the Ravens for most of the night, controlled the majority of the game, and yet still couldn’t pull out a victory.
Baltimore entered that Week 4 match-up with an 0-3 record, but the emotional lift from that improbable victory was only temporary, and the losing continued. Along with the losing on the scoreboard, came the loss of Flacco to a season-ending knee injury in late November.
After unsuccessful starting stints by Jimmy Clausen and Matt Schaub down the stretch, the Ravens entered their Week 16 home match-up against Pittsburgh sporting a 4-10 record and Mallett as their quarterback.
The Steelers had a healthy Roethlisberger, a 9-5 record and everything in the world to play for when they entered M&T Bank Stadium as 10-point favorites on December 27.
However, it was the Ravens who played with passion and fire, as they never trailed on the way to a 20-17 victory that temporarily put Pittsburgh’s playoff prospects on life-support.
In other words, the 2015 Steelers couldn’t beat Baltimore without Roethlisberger or with him as he countered Ryan Mallett.
It has also been said by many experts such as Dulac that the Steelers are the class of the AFC North in terms of talent.
That may be the case, but it’s hard to get excited about such things, when the Steelers aren’t even the class of the Steelers/Ravens AFC North rivalry.