“No, not at all because they have to go through one team — that’s the Pittsburgh Steelers in that AFC championship. So in order for them to get to the Super Bowl, they have to beat us, and we’re not gonna let that happen once we get that close. So that’s not gonna happen in this lifetime.” -LaMarr Woodley on the Baltimore Ravens (June 2011)
From now on, this quote will forever be etched into “Steelers vs. Ravens” lore, and now it appears that Woodley’s remarks will likely mark an important turning point in the entire rivalry altogether. Unfortunately for Woodley, he might always be remembered as the one who woke the sleeping “Raven Giant” named Joe Flacco.
While the Steelers had recently possessed the upper hand in their rivalry with the Ravens, including two postseason wins after the 2008 and 2010 seasons, both teams were essentially even in terms of on-field talent when the Spring began back in 2011. These comments did not sit well with Baltimore’s Quarterback Joe Flacco either, and “Borat” took offense to Woodley’s rather cocky remarks.
Although the Steelers had won 6 of their previous 8 against their division rivals between 2008 (Flacco’s Rookie year) and 2010, no game had been decided by more than 9 points, and each contest was in doubt until the 4th Quarter/Overtime. This however did not stop Woodley when he shared his thoughts with the world regarding Joe Flacco and the Ravens.
I’m not saying that these comments had everything to do with the Ravens recent success, especially against Pittsburgh. But it really made zero sense to give any sort of bulletin-board material to a long-standing rival who was capable of knocking your own team off at any moment.
In fact, the last two years have seen not only a shift in the rivalry (Baltimore has won 3 of the last 4, including a 35-7 blowout in the 1st game post-comments), but a shift in both Flacco’s and Woodley’s careers:
Flacco: Super Bowl XLVII MYP, 22-10 Regular Season record, 5-1 Postseason record, 7,427 Pass Yards, 42 Touchdown Passes
Woodley: 23 Total Regular Season Games, 13.0 Sacks, 2 INT’s, 2 FR’s, weight issues, complacency issues, hamstring and ankle injuries, and a $61.5 million dollar contract currently weighing down the salary-cap needy Steelers
It pains me to say it, but we could be in for a serious down era of Steelers football, especially when they have to macthup against their hated rivals. This comes arguably at the worst possible time because Joe Flacco is now entering the prime of his career with a litany of Offensive weapons. If the youngsters are unable to develop on Defense for the Steelers and undisciplined play reigns supreme, only bad things can happen as Flacco will continue to build off of his already terrific 2012 season. As far as Woodley is concerned, I’m glad that I was one of the few people who spoke out against the team when they attempted to sign such an overrated contract to a player of his caliber. Woodley nevertheless “got paid” that offseason, and he is only able to eat his words after what has just taken place over the last two years.
Face it “Steeler Nation,” the Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh rivalry has shifted, and the scales are not in Pittsburgh’s favor anymore. Heck, with a successful 2013 campaign, the paradigm of Big Ben being better than Joe Flacco might shift in Flacco’s favor as time marches on also. If the last two years were any indication, the Steelers are now not the type of juggernaut obstacle which Baltimore must go through anymore in the A.F.C., let alone the A.F.C. North. Flacco and the Ravens easily dispatched the “one team” according to Woodley back in 2011, and never had to deal with them at all as a postseason contender in 2012. As it stands today, it is the Ravens, not the Steelers, who have won back-to-back A.F.C. North Champs, and now reign supreme as the Super Bowl Champions.
All of these things I might add have happened in the 20 months since Woodley added gasoline to the rivalry fire. Sometimes if one has nothing nice to say, they should not say it at all. Nevertheless, I must ask the following:
What does “Humble Pie” taste like, LaMarr?
Share your thoughts below readers