On a fine September evening in the year of 2008, the Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the Baltimore Ravens for an early season showdown. The meeting was special because the Steelers were in the middle of an early hot streak in the season and faced their AFC North rivals with their rookie quarterback in Joe Flacco.
The game started slow for Pittsburgh who took a ten point deficit into halftime, hearing unfamiliar boo's from the crowd. The Ravens were controlling the game and Flacco looked calm cool and collected for a rookie quarterback. But what would be unleashed later would show just what the Steelers' defense was made of in the late 2000's. The Steelers would total five sacks on the evening, many of which would have a tremendous impact on the game.
We re-live some of the best plays from the pass rush in that game for this throwback Thursday.
James Harrison sack/LaMar Woodley touchdown.
James Harrison was already a known problem to the NFL after his explosion onto the scene when he replaced Joey Porter in 2006 and became the starter at outside linebacker in 2007. Harrison had delivered a crushing blow to remember when he crushed Ed Reed and forced a fumble on a punt return the last time these teams met at Heinz Field, and he did so again on this evening. Harrison ran so far around the tackle that he eventually was able to curve behind the line and get the sack on his own, forcing a fumble which would be taken for a touchdown by LaMar Woodley. It would be the second touchdown in a matter of seconds by Pittsburgh as Santonio Holmes had scored on the previous drive, and after Woodley's score the game would flip to Pittsburgh's favor.
James Harrison strikes again.
Harrison was not done after forcing a fumble that would change the game early, he would total 2.5 sacks on the night with another sack coming in the fourth quarter with this play. Harrison has been a nightmare for Joe Flacco throughout the quarterback's career. Even last season when Harrison came off the couch, no. 92 notched three sacks on Heinz Field to show that he still has the stuff as a competitor.
Lawrence Timmons overtime sack.
Timmons was a young linebacker still finding his place in a defense that was full of playmakers at the linebacker position, but he certainly made a key play late in the game to help Pittsburgh win a key victory. On a third and ten at the beginning of overtime, Pittsburgh had the opportunity to pin the Ravens deep in their own territory and give the offense a good chance at winning the game with a simple field goal. Doing just that, Timmons fired through and delivered the key sack that would force a Baltimore punt and later watched as Jeff Reed nailed the game winning field goal.
The game was part of several special runs.
Part of what made the 2008 season so magical were the several games which went down to the wire and required late game heroics on the part of several players on the team. This game was part of the three game sweep that Pittsburgh would put on Baltimore during the season they won their most recent Super Bowl championship. It further intensified a rivalry between teams that needed no further fan to the flames which broiled in the hearts of the players during these prizefight style games.
From the 2007 season until the 2011 season, the Baltimore Ravens could not beat the Pittsburgh Steelers one time when Ben Roethlisberger was in at starting quarterback. It would not be until 2011 that such a win would occur and that Joe Flacco, in his fourth season, could finally say he beat Ben Roethlisberger. While this accomplishment is linked to Pittsburgh's quarterback, much credit is due to the defense for their several stellar performances over the years.