OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens took a major step forward with a monumental last-second victory in Pittsburgh last Sunday.
Their biggest challenge this week will be to avoid taking a step back.
The last time the Ravens were coming off a win over the hated Steelers, they went to Nashville and laid an egg against the inferior Titans in Week 2. And following a solid 29-14 win over AFC South-leading Houston, Baltimore was embarrassed in a nationally-televised loss to Jacksonville on Monday night.
After sweeping the regular-season series with the Steelers for only the second time in franchise history, coach John Harbaugh has no intention of his football team negating what they’ve accomplished by losing at 2-6 Seattle on Sunday.
“It resonates with us a lot, because you’d give one back,” Harbaugh said. “It would still be a division win, it would still be a conference win, but we don’t want to win one then give one back. And that’s going to be true for the rest of the season. Every game we play is going to be the most important game. This is the most important game of the season that we are going to play.”
The pressure will lie more heavily on the offense to produce from the start of the game, unlike disappointing efforts in Tennessee and Jacksonville in which they failed to keep pace with the opposition in the first half. The Ravens were held scoreless through the first 20 minutes of the Titans game and failed to even collect a first down in the first 40 minutes of the debacle against the Jaguars.
After driving 92 yards for the game-winning touchdown in their final drive against Pittsburgh, the Ravens hope to continue that same success against the Seahawks’ 16th-ranked defense.
“It’s going to be our job to get off to a quick start, and we do that by just going and executing and trying to be as efficient as we can,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “I think as long as we do that, then hopefully we can go put some points on the board early on and try to take all those others factors out of the game as quickly as we can.”
Thoughts of the Pittsburgh game were still on display Wednesday as the gathered media was more interested in the aftermath of the Steelers victory than a mundane trip to Seattle to play the Seahawks, who are oddly tied for second place in the division with a 2-6 record and have lost four of their last five. However, after Tuesday’s day off, the Ravens say they’re ready to start the second half of their schedule.
“We’re thinking about Seattle now,” Grubbs said. “It’s all about what’s important now. This is a big game. We know what happened in the past, but every week is a new week and there are new opportunities. We’re going to take this game as it is. It’s an important game because it’s next on the schedule, so we’re going to look at it that way.”
Lewis and Clark fined
After a helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has been fined a reported $20,000 by the NFL.
The collision occurred in the second quarter of Sunday night’s game, and the veteran wideout did not return to action.
“They fined me whatever they were going to fine me, but I’ll definitely call it in [to appeal],” Lewis said. “The thing is, you definitely respect them trying to protect players’ safety. But at the same time, it won’t change one way I play this week — no matter what the fine is. You just can’t stop playing defense the way defense has always been created to play.”
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark was fined $40,000 for his hit on Ravens tight end Ed Dickson. Unlike Lewis, Clark was flagged 15 yards unnecessary roughness penalty that helped set up a 51-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff to conclude the first half. Clark was also fined $15,000 for an out-of-bounds hit against the New England Patriots two weeks ago.
“This time it’s wrong, not that I respected [commissioner Roger Goodell] before this,” Clark told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday.
Lewis was more diplomatic in responding to the fine handed down by the league, but the 16th-year linebacker has expressed frustration in the past over the way defensive players are being restricted in how they do their jobs.
“You never want to hurt anybody,” Lewis said. “I’ve been in this business too long, so the last thing you want to do is hurt anyone. I just think once we started getting into these fines — and I don’t know how they come up with the numbers most of the time — just get done with it. Whatever it is, I’ll talk to the league guys and move on from there.”
Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison is also expected to draw a fine for a helmet-to-helmet hit in Sunday’s game.
Ball So Hard
Trending on Twitter for two days following the Ravens-Steelers Sunday night broadcast on NBC, Terrell Suggs’ “Ball So Hard University” introduction created quite the stir.
The Pro Bowl linebacker was asked to explain where the reference originated before the Ravens returned to the practice field on Wednesday afternoon.
“A lot of guys on this team attended ‘Ball So Hard University,’ including me, myself,” Suggs said. “I’m actually the dean of students, and the president of the school is actually Shawn Carter (Jay-Z), so you all might want to get clearance on that. But, it was just fun.”
The phrase originates from the song “N—-s in Paris” by Jay-Z and Kanye West. Suggs was sporting a t-shirt displaying the “school” name, but the linebacker said he is not currently selling the shirts.
Perhaps the valedictorian of the fictitious institution should be Flacco after he orchestrated a 13-play, 92-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes to give the Ravens one of their biggest regular-season wins in franchise history. Even the laid-back quarterback got a kick out of Suggs’ institution of higher learning.
“I hope everybody on our team can automatically get accepted into that,” Flacco said. “That’s pretty cool. I heard about that, and that’s one of those things I wish I was thoughtful and cool enough to come up with that on my own.”