Listen, a rivalry is a rivalry when the two teams hate each other for 60 minutes and no matter what the circumstance, the game is always in question. It didn’t matter that Charlie Batch and a makeshift line was playing, that Ike Taylor and LaMarr Woodley were absent or that the Ravens had a 15 home game winning streak. The game was going to be close.
The team that wins these games is the team that deep down wants it more.
You can make all the arguments you want for Baltimore, whether it be clinching the division or extending their dominance over the Steelers. Bottom line: Mike Tomlin effectively communicated that this team was backed into a corner. There aren’t many options if the Steelers drop a game from here on out. And that cornered animal mentality drove every Steelers player on the field to push that extra bit and get the win.
Isaac Readman and Jonathan Dwyer ran straight into the vaunted heart of the Ravens defense and each time came out with the extra yard. By the end of the game, the one-two battering duo had atoned for last week’s debacle by punching the Ravens in the mouth and not relenting at any point. Charlie Batch played like Ben in the fourth quarter as he took hits in the pocket, refusing to be intimidated by the rush they brought.
It was something to see.
Lost in the offense’s final comeback was the job done by the defense. Troy Polamalu returned and did not have his best game. It didn’t matter because the rest of the unit played up to the moment. Ziggy Hood, a player who has really failed to assert his presence on the line, looked like a long forgotten Aaron Smith. James Harrison became the bull-rushing force off the edge he was when he won defensive player of the year. Cortez Allen, yes Cortez Allen, played like a number one corner in big moments to keep Baltimore off the board even when Flacco picked on him all game.
There’s no other way to summarize what happened besides this: the Steelers showed why they’re the Steelers. They showed the guts and heart of a talented team needing a win to stay alive in the playoff hunt. They control their own destiny at this point and there is no reason to think that this team can’t pull off a run to set up round three with the Birdbrains of Baltimore.