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Old 06-07-2012, 10:56 PM   #1
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Default Head Games: Steelers Must Prove 2011 Losses To Ravens Were Flukes

Head Games: Steelers Must Prove 2011 Losses To Ravens Were Flukes

Thursday, June 7th, 2012 at 9:37 am by Jeremy Hritz


There will be many motivating factors for the Pittsburgh Steelers heading into the 2012 season.

However, none is more rousing than beating the Baltimore Ravens.

The Steelers experienced polar opposite losses to their hated rival last year: a complete annihilation in the Charmed City and a last second heartbreaker in Pittsburgh. Both defeats set a precedent for the games that would follow, and they were indicators of the type of play that would characterize the entire 2011 season.

Following the first loss in the season opener, a surprisingly porous rushing defense and a shaky offense line was exposed, leading to less-than-stellar wins against Seattle and Indianapolis, and then a defeat at the hands of Houston who outplayed the Steelers in every way. It was not until the following week that the Steelers crushed Tennessee that they established some momentum that resulted in a four game winning streak, culminating with the season-masterpiece win against New England.

It appeared that the Steelers had righted the ship, and that they would regain their championship swagger from a season ago when they took down Tom Brady and company, until again, the Ravens landed in Pittsburgh and stole a victory in the final seconds. After this stinging loss, the season was a mixed bag that ended in a devastating playoff loss against Denver.

Since the transition to the AFC North from the AFC Central in 2002, the Steelers have captured the division crown five times, asserting themselves as the yearly favorite. Nonetheless, last year, the Ravens shook their confidence.

And now, heading into the 2012 season, if the Steelers have plans of winning another Super Bowl, they have to show that there are no lingering psychological effects of last year’s twin tattooing.

Rarely do either the Steelers or Ravens beat each other in blowout fashion, as the contests normally end on a last second field goal, and no question that the 35-7 loss in the opener raised some doubt in the players in the black and gold uniforms. And then again, to lose a game that they believed their defense had secured only added to their shaken confidence.

The impact that these losses had on the Steelers in 2011 reveals itself in the games that followed as they never seemed to establish a true team rhythm. More than any other game that the Steelers play every year, the matchups with the Ravens are always the most important, but this coming year, they have an even greater significance.

The Steelers must prove that 2011 was a fluke, and that the so-called Ravens stronghold on the division is nothing more than an anomaly. They cannot afford to be swept again by the Ravens, and must, at the least, split the series. If they lose both games, it is safe to assume that the season is over, as the Steelers missed the playoffs when they were swept in 2006 and lost to Denver in the Wild Card round of the playoffs last year. It is a common belief that the winner of the Steelers vs. Ravens matchups indicate who the most physical team in the NFL is, and the Steelers need that edge to have the buoyancy to advance deeply in the playoffs.

2012 presents an opportunity for a role reversal.

Last year, the media clamored about the gray hair of the Steelers defense. However, stars like Ed Reed and Ray Lewis have dodged the dreaded age curse for too long, and it is may be time for it to catch up. Couple that with a few low-key departures (Tom Zbikowski, Jarrett Johnson, Haruki Nakamura), the exit of defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano, and the Achilles injury to Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs, and it is not a reach to say that the Ravens will take a step back this year on defense. On the other hand, the Steelers have made some key changes to their defense to infuse some youth to the lineup which should result in improved play in 2012.

As I noted in an earlier article this year, I believe that the Steelers will sweep the Ravens this season. The only team to win consecutive AFC North Championships since 2002 is the Steelers, and even more interesting is that following every year that the Ravens have won the North, the Steelers have won the division the following year.

Regardless, in order for the Steelers to position themselves for another run this season, they must prove that last year’s series was a stroke of luck for the Ravens. The Steelers have not yet forgotten those losses and will not any time soon.

Sunday Night, November 18th will go a long way in letting us know just how good their memory is, and in turn, how good their season will be.

http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/06...s-were-flukes/
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Old 06-08-2012, 06:47 AM   #2
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Default Re: Head Games: Steelers Must Prove 2011 Losses To Ravens Were Flukes

I don't think they were "flukes." Baltimore is a competitive team that is always a threat. They kicked our ass the first time, no question. The second time, they beat us the way we have beaten them a few times in the past - at the closing moments of the game. Granted, Flacco usually sucks it when crunch time rolls around, but when two teams play year in and year out, it is impossible to beat them all the time, especially with a team like Baltimore. This is not the Browns we are talking about folks.

The first game, although not illegal, the blocks the Ravens were employing at the line were for sure a calculated tactic by Harbaugh. Every time we play them he will devise something to catch us off guard, something sneaky and underhanded. He is a sneaky, shifty, morally questionable coach. A fair and square game is not in his vocabulary. i could not even imagine a Steelers HC in that conversation.

I think we are a better team this year. Last year was questionable. But we have improved where we were weak, and are healthy. The Ravens have lost a few, and yes, their defense is aging now. And Without Suggs, well, that is obvious. Even so, we could lose, and I would hardly call it a fluke.

To say the Baltimore wins were a "fluke" reeks of arrogance. Shake hands, say good game, and go out and kick some ass next game. Results, not words.
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Old 06-08-2012, 07:07 AM   #3
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Default Re: Head Games: Steelers Must Prove 2011 Losses To Ravens Were Flukes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Twentyvalve View Post
I don't think they were "flukes." Baltimore is a competitive team that is always a threat. They kicked our ass the first time, no question. The second time, they beat us the way we have beaten them a few times in the past - at the closing moments of the game. Granted, Flacco usually sucks it when crunch time rolls around, but when two teams play year in and year out, it is impossible to beat them all the time, especially with a team like Baltimore. This is not the Browns we are talking about folks.

The first game, although not illegal, the blocks the Ravens were employing at the line were for sure a calculated tactic by Harbaugh. Every time we play them he will devise something to catch us off guard, something sneaky and underhanded. He is a sneaky, shifty, morally questionable coach. A fair and square game is not in his vocabulary. i could not even imagine a Steelers HC in that conversation.

I think we are a better team this year. Last year was questionable. But we have improved where we were weak, and are healthy. The Ravens have lost a few, and yes, their defense is aging now. And Without Suggs, well, that is obvious. Even so, we could lose, and I would hardly call it a fluke.

To say the Baltimore wins were a "fluke" reeks of arrogance. Shake hands, say good game, and go out and kick some ass next game. Results, not words.
GREAT post, and true at the same time. Anybody that says they were fluke wins, are in denial & bias....
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Old 06-08-2012, 07:21 AM   #4
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Default Re: Head Games: Steelers Must Prove 2011 Losses To Ravens Were Flukes

whatever the reasons, we can't let them sweep us this year.
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Old 06-08-2012, 09:45 AM   #5
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Default Re: Head Games: Steelers Must Prove 2011 Losses To Ravens Were Flukes

I would call that first game a slobberknocker. It had been a long time since I've seen a Steeler team manhandled like that, like 40 some years back to the mid 60's.

On the plus side, we did recover and made a respectable run last year, warts and all.

This year will be a different story. There is a good posibility, that Cinci may be the toughest out in the division.
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Old 06-08-2012, 02:18 PM   #6
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Default Re: Head Games: Steelers Must Prove 2011 Losses To Ravens Were Flukes

Calling that first game a fluke is not giving our rival their due credit.

What happened in that game is that:

1) after losing two consecutive AFC title games to the Steelers, and the last one after blowing a 21-0 lead, Little John Harbaugh had his back to the wall, and had to produce something.

2) the Ravens offensive line employed a rarely used (due to its quasi-illegal status in the NFL) chop-blocking technique at the Oline that our defensive line had struggled against in the past, when healthy.

3) As a result, they were able to open gaps for Ray Rice to slice through. They established a running game, and it all went downhill from there.

If there is one thing I can say about Tomlin, my perception is, he USUALLY GETS EVEN and breaks Steelers "curses".

* He blew up the Jacksonville curse in 2008, and they (JAX) had never been the same since. Those of us that have been watching the Steelers for while recall that curse went all the way back to our AFC Central days-- the Jags always played us tough.

* He blew up the Ravens curse in a 2007 35-7 pounding on MNF after being throttled by them both times in 2006.

* He shutdown the Patsies curse in convincing fashion this year.

* last year, we started to see the beginnings of the "Steelers soft zone coverage" curse being lifted, with the addition of more physical CBs to our roster and more man-to-man coverages employed

With all the talk about Haley's returning emphasis on the running game, I can tell you almost for certain what the Steelers have cooked up for Denver and later, Baltimore this year. That 157 yards rushing against us in week 1 last year by Ray Rice probably had Mr. Rooney tossing and turning at night ever since week 1 of last year.

With the Ravens down Terrell Suggs, an aging Ray Lewis, and aging Ed Reed, and other departures from their LB corps, the Steelers plan on ripping open the belly of that purple-clad defense with:

REDMAN --> DAVID JOHNSON -> POUNCEY/COLON/DECASTRO

I can hardly wait to see it....
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Old 06-08-2012, 02:20 PM   #7
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Default Re: Head Games: Steelers Must Prove 2011 Losses To Ravens Were Flukes

Everybody Is Undefeated: The Most Hopeful Time Of The Year

Friday, June 8th, 2012 by Jeremy Hritz

Switch on Sirius NFL radio, or watch the NFL Network, and you’ll hear how every team is positive and optimistic about their prospects for the 2012 season. Well, that is unless you are the Jacksonville Jaguars and your first round pick doesn’t know how to call a cab. From the Buffalo Bills with the newly acquired Mario Williams, to the Washington Redskins with the much-anticipated RGIII, mediocre to piteous teams from 2011 are embracing their clean slate and are interpreting their sans-contact workouts-in shorts as indicators of their awaiting success.

This optimistic sentiment is not a trend that has burgeoned this off-season; conversely, this is simply how it is in the NFL during this time of the year, every year. Players who struggled in the previous season “feel a lot more comfortable than they did last year” and believe that they are “light years ahead of where they were last year at this time.” While that somewhat may be the case this year when considering last year’s lockout, the reality is that OTAs, mini-camps, and even training camp to an extent do not a successful regular season and playoff make. What we find during this rose-colored-glasses time of the year is players piecemeal-ing sports clichés to express their “newfound passion for the game” or their “better grasp of the defensive schemes.” It is great that players feel a sense of optimism and belief as they move into a new season, and fans and coaches alike would want it any other way. Imagine for a moment a player saying, “Well, I really feel lost out there during OTAs, and I feel like I have taken a step backwards from last year.” This would not exactly be reassuring to fans.

The off-season is a time where all teams (yes, even the Cleveland Browns) have an undefeated record, and where the yet-to-be narrative that will detail the 2012 season is debated and prognosticated throughout the league and media. Perennial losers ponder the prospects of a winning season and rationalize how somehow, this year will be different, while customary winners like the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, and Green Bay Packers rigorously self-analyze to tweak their approach to improve upon their accomplishments from a season ago. Ultimately, the off-season represents an intemperate enthusiasm and hope.

And so before too long, all of the questions that are facing the Steelers that have fans jammed up will be answered. When the Steelers take the field against the Denver Broncos, the Mike Wallace contract situation will have reached some sort of resolution (for better or for worse), the starting left tackle and left cornerback will have been determined, and the players’ grasp of the Todd Haley playbook will be on display for all to evaluate. Only then, on that agonizingly distant Sunday night, will the decisions made in the off-season truly be able to be judged.

All that fans have now is hope and anticipation for a successful 2012 Steelers season, as they are patiently waiting for the new season to start, and in the meantime, they are hanging on any crumb in the media related to the Steelers that they can get.

The off-season is an investment for fans, just as much as it is for the team. And with each day that we study and learn about new players or changes to the team and coaching staff, the greater our eagerness becomes. Our wishes are that the regular season is just as successful as we envisioned it in the off-season. And if it isn’t, we will long for the draft and mini-camps of the springtime and a chance to be hopeful for a winning season once again.

http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/06...e-of-the-year/
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Old 06-08-2012, 02:46 PM   #8
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Default Re: Head Games: Steelers Must Prove 2011 Losses To Ravens Were Flukes

that wasn't a fluke. last year they were just plain & flat out better than us. after matt schaub got injured for the season, the ravens were the best team in the AFC last year (even though they choked vs the pats, they should have won that)

this year is a different story however. they will still be competitive, but i think time is running out for their defense.
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Old 06-08-2012, 02:59 PM   #9
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Default Re: Head Games: Steelers Must Prove 2011 Losses To Ravens Were Flukes

Whats this fluke stuff? We lost to a good team. An AFC Championship team!
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Old 06-08-2012, 03:42 PM   #10
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Default Re: Head Games: Steelers Must Prove 2011 Losses To Ravens Were Flukes

We don't have to prove that it was a fluke, we just have to prove that it was a speed bump. We have been owning the Ravens since Ben and sweeping us last year kind of evened things out. We need to beat them 2 or 3 times this year to prove that we are still the kings of the North. Baltimore has taken some big hits this off season and IMO will not be close to as good as they were last year. I predict Baltimore having a season much like our 2009 season, where they are capable of beating quite a few teams but lose a few games they shouldn't on the road much like they did last year, just worse. Cincy will be tough but we have always been the best in the division with Arians and a terrible O line, we improved those 2 problems, we will be the best.
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