This week has given us all time to reflect on the Ravens, how they’ve fallen from their perennial playoff perch, and how they might possibly return to their winning ways.
It’s also Steelers week, which adds all kinds of intensity to the mix.
That got me thinking: When did the Ravens last win in the playoffs? I know it wasn’t too long ago, even though it seems that way.
It turns out that Baltimore’s last playoff victory was also their last victory in which they won by more than one possession.
Twenty-two months ago in Pittsburgh, the Ravens eliminated the Steelers in the first round of the playoffs, after they took a slim 10-9 halftime lead and won by the final score of 30-17. The Ravens played an outstanding game that night, as they only committed one turnover and two penalties (14 yards). The Steelers, on the other hand, were penalized eight times for 114 yards and gave the ball to Baltimore three times.
Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus, Getty Images
It was the Ravens’ first ever playoff win against the Steelers.
Elvis Dumervil led Baltimore’s 5-sack effort with two of his own, and although Antonio Brown gained 117 yards receiving, he failed to score a touchdown against the Ravens. In fact, in 13 career games against the Ravens (playoffs included), Brown has caught 69 passes but has only once scored a touchdown.
Pittsburgh scored first, by way of a Shaun Suisham field goal with 1:29 remaining in the 1st quarter. Four minutes later, Bernard Pierce ran the ball into the end zone from five yards out to give the Ravens a 7-3 lead, a lead they wouldn’t lose for the rest of the game.
Baltimore lost to Pittsburgh during its regular season visit to Heinz Field, 43-23. In that game, Ben Roethlisberger tore up the Ravens secondary, as he threw for 340 yards and six touchdowns. But on January 3, 2015, while he threw for 334 yards and one touchdown, Roethlisberger also threw two costly 2nd half interceptions that resulted in seven Baltimore points.
His last three drives against the Ravens defense ended like this: interception, interception, 2-for-5 for 24 yards. In Roethlisberger’s previous four games, he threw six touchdowns and one interception.
That game was just the ninth time in 23 games that Baltimore went to Pittsburgh and won. It was also only the eighth time the Ravens have scored 30 or more points against the Steelers.
It’s safe to say that this Sunday’s game will be very close, but you might not know how close they usually are.
Consider this: The Ravens and Steelers have faced each other 44 times (playoffs included). In those games, the total combined score is Pittsburgh 882-844. That amounts to a per-game average score of Pittsburgh 20.0, Baltimore 19.2. Basically, when these two teams do battle, the winner could be determined by a coin flip (no overtime puns intended).
As for this particular game, the Ravens opened as three point favorites but now that it appears that Roethlisberger will play, the line has shifted to Steelers (-1).
Anything can happen, and with first place on the line, it probably will. If the 2016 Ravens want to really make a postseason run, they need to win this game. They need to remember that not too long ago they dominated the Steelers at Heinz Field in the playoffs. Contrary to the stale narrative of Pittsburgh fans, the Ravens are every bit as good as the Steelers are.