The Baltimore Ravens erased an off season of bad memories this afternoon as they played near-perfect football while the Pittsburgh Steelers played slow and sloppy in losing in Baltimore, 35-7. Seven turnovers, including Ed Reed first two career interceptions of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, plus an interception and forced fumble by the ageless wonder, Ray Lewis, fueled the Ravens defense, which harassed Roethlisberger and came up with drive-ending and game changing turnovers all day long.
This was easily the best game the Ravens have ever played against the Steelers in both head coach John Harbaugh and QB Joe Flacco's tenures here in Baltimore. Harbaugh and Flacco moved to 4-0 in opening games in their four years together. Flacco had an amazing game today, throwing for 224 yards on a 17 for 29 day, with three scores, no picks and a 117.6 QB Rating, easily his best in his career against the Steelers, who usually bring out the worst in him.
The concern over the offensive line was non-existent, as they protected Flacco all day, giving him time to find his open receivers, and opened huge holes for Ray Rice to gallop through as he gained 107 yards on 19 carries, a 5.6 average. It is a rare occurrence when Pittsburgh allows a 100 yard rusher, as they gave up and average of under 70 yards a game on the ground in 2010.
In my opinion, the team made two noticeable mistakes on the day. The first was rushing three men on the only score that the Steelers had all day, one again giving Big Ben time to roam around in his backfield until he finally found an open receiver. Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano promised we would not see this defensive formation and the one time he employed it, he and his defense was burned for the score.
The other mistake was not going for the field goal on fourth down deep in Pittsburgh territory and leading 29-7 in the third quarter. Three points would have made it a four-score game but they decided to go for the first down and didn't make it, although it proved, along with the defensive mistake to be irrelevant in the final outcome.
Obviously, this is a victory to relish and soak in, and while there is still 15 more games to play, it has to be as great if nt better feeling for the players and coaches as it obviously was for the fans, as M&T Bank Stadium was never louder than it was today in the third quarter when the Ravens have previously folded but today showed that killer instinctto squash their opponent when they had them down.
More to come as we dissect this game throughout most of the next few days and get ready to go on the road next week at the Tennessee Titans, 16-14 losers today at the Jacksonville Jaguars. Enjoy this Ravens fans!