There’s “must win” and then there’s this, what the Ravens are facing in Pittsburgh on Saturday.
It’s more than must win.
It’s “win or be scarred for another year”.
It’s “win or let Roethlisberger continue to be your Daddy”.
It’s “win or let Pittsburgh continue to dominate Baltimore in playoff football.”
It’s way more than must win.
For the record, Baltimore, as a football city, has never – not once – enjoyed a post-season victory over a Pittsburgh team. When the Colts graced our Sunday afternoons, they were 0-2 vs. the Steelers in the playoffs. The Ravens own the same record against the Steelers.
That’s 0-4. But it’s 0-6 if you want to include two World Series losses handed to the Orioles by the Pirates.
Tough to swallow…losing to Pittsburgh in everything except a beauty pageant.
The city of Baltimore is 0-6 lifetime against the city of Pittsburgh in post-season competition.
That needs to change on Saturday at Heinz Field.
It needs to change for a variety of reasons, the least of which is the mere fact that the Ravens’ season gets extended if they pull off a win in the Steel City in five days. That’s reason enough to win. Fact: Baltimore can’t win the Super Bowl this season if they lose on Saturday.
But it’s so much deeper than that.
In all fairness, this whole “beating Pittsburgh thing” has morphed into something that’s actually somewhat uncomfortable for us here in Baltimore. One football game…one athletic competition…one “event” that’s way more symbolic than meaningful to our everyday lives…just shouldn’t mean this much.
It’s not THAT important. What happened in Arizona over the weekend with that nutjob shooting up a shopping center…now that is important.
Saturday is football, it’s not life and death.
But it’s awfully damn close in Baltimore.
The Pittsburgh people like to act like these games with the Ravens aren’t really that big of a deal. I guess I wouldn’t consider them such a big deal either if the shoe was on the other foot and it was BALTIMORE that was 4-0 against Pittsburgh over the the last four decades.
I’d easily dismiss the uproar and the nervousness if the Ravens were the team with the upper hand over the years.
But it hasn’t been that way.
Baltimore started losing to Pittsburgh in football games that mattered back in 1975. And they lost again in 1976. That, of course, was the day the dude flew the plane into the upper deck after the game.
The Ravens carried on the tradition, if you will, by losing in January of 2002 and again in January of 2009 with a Super Bowl trip on the line.
So that’s why it’s important to us.
It IS uncomfortable for the game to be this important and it IS uncomfortable to literally start getting a nervous twitch in your neck when closing your eyes and visualizing Roethlisberger taking a knee with 28 seconds to go on Saturday and the scoreboard reading “PITTSBURGH 17 – BALTIMORE 14”.
Because no matter what the final score yields on Saturday, it is NOT “Ravens vs. Steelers”. It’s BALTIMORE vs. PITTSBURGH.
These beatings and this 4-decade losing streak can’t continue any longer.
It just can’t.
Not to them, anyway.
If Baltimore somehow had a 4-decade losing streak to some team from Seattle or San Antonio or Detroit, we wouldn’t care nearly this much.
It’s four decades of not beating Pittsburgh in the playoffs.
It must end.