Before Thursday's game Pro Football Talk, ESPN, NFL News, etc. were all creating the same melodramatic storyline. "How will the Ravens be able to focus on the game after Mondays' distraction? If they lose to the Steelers will they be able to pull themselves out of the hole? Is their 2014 season ruined?"
On Thursday night the Ravens went out and dismantled the Steelers in all three phases of the game. The Ravens haven't beaten the Steelers that thoroughly since 2011.
But back to the main point. The Ravens reportedly had smooth days of practice this week, so it seems that most of the "distraction" came from the major sports headliners.
Sportswriters seem to forget one important thing.
The Ravens, for the majority of their young existence, have been an upper echelon NFL franchise. And upper echelon franchises have quality coaches that are able to rally their teams together to overcome these "distractions". Take a look at the 2000 Ravens, which had Ray Lewis go through a murder trial during the offseason. Surely something like that would've been a distraction and a stumbling block for the Ravens. What became of them? They won a Super Bowl behind a historically dominant defense.
The 2010 Steelers had Ben Roethlisberger get suspended four games for sexual assault. Surely that had to be considered a distraction for them. They went 12-4, including 3-1 during Roethlisbergers' suspension, and made it to the Super Bowl.
The 2013 Patriots had Aaron Hernandez charged with murder which led to his release, with the former NFL tight end still sitting behind bars. Surely that had to be considered a distraction for them. They went 12-4 and made it to the AFC Championship.
Distractions are a sports media creation that disregards the fact that football players are paid professionals that are able to deal with the outside stuff. The media ignores the fact that playing football is an escape for a lot of athletes and that Thursday night is no exception. And they make more of a distraction for the team (and everyone else) than the actual event.