May 15, 2009 |

It has been a very nice off season for the Baltimore Ravens.  Great additions like Matt Birk, L.J. Smith, Michael Oher and the re-signing of linebacker Ray Lewis.  None of it will matter a lick if they can’t figure out a way to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Easier said (or, in this case written) than done.  Nobody could figure out a way to beat the Steelers in 2008, that’s why they raised the Lombardi trophy at the end of  Super Bowl XLIII.  Ben Roethlisberger was an untamable beast in that game and throughout the playoffs as Ravens fans could only watch in horror as their division rival not only captured the championship, but they did it while handing the Ravens losses three different times.  What excruciating losses they were.  A loss in overtime, a questionable call at the goal line and a playoff heartbreaker thanks to a last minute interception.  Each loss to Pittsburgh last season was like a kick to the groin for the Ravens faithful.  Not to pile on, but looking back on the history of this great division rivalry and it’s all Pittsburgh.  Baltimore has a less than sterling record of 10-17 when facing the Steelers in head to head match-ups.   Just to add a little lemon juice to that cut, the Colts received the smackdown from Pittsburgh too.  Starting in 1950, the Baltimore Colts had a record of just 3-11 versus the Steelers.  It’s been over half a century of losing to those Pittsburgh Pukes!!  Sorry, but it has been frustrating.

After that little ray of sunshine, it’s time to move onto 2009 and for the Ravens, moving on in the playoffs and the ultimate goal, means figuring out a way to beat Pittsburgh.  That should be the only focus for the players, the coaches, the management, the ushers, the ticket takers, the fans, for anyone who has any kind of interest in the Ravens.  It may sound shortsighted and you will always hear the notion that every game is important.  Forget about that nonsense.  There is only one way for this franchise to move forward.  Beat Pittsburgh!  Now comes the hard part. How?  It helps to be lucky. It helps to be good.  It helps to be healthy.  It will almost take the perfect storm of everything working out correctly to turn around the misfortunes the Ravens have suffered at the hands of the Steelers. 

Beefing up the offensive line is a great start.  By adding Oher and Birk, Joe Flacco should get more time against the Pittsburgh pass rush.  That will be huge for the second year QB.  Adding some additional offensive weapons and the health of Todd Heap are also critical to taking that next step in this rivalry.  L.J. Smith is a very good pass catching tightend and with the three headed monsters in the backfield running the ball, the plan appears in place for taking a legitimate shot at the champs.  The Steelers must be knocked down and that’s where the defense comes in.  They have to collapse the pocket around Ben Roethlisberger when he drops back to pass and Big Ben must be under the pile when that pocket does collapse.  It’s the only way.  How many times last season did it appear the Ravens had a big sack against Roethlisberger only to have him wriggle off the hook.  He made the impossible happen and the Ravens were not the only victims to the Roethlisberger magic in 2008.  That can’t happen in 2009.  He must go down….he must go down hard! 

The great thing about this years schedule is the Ravens don’t meet the Steelers till late Novemeber in week 12.  That gives them plenty of time to prepare and hopefully plenty of time for the Steelers to rack up some injuries.  Forget about every other game, fans.  The Ravens season begins November 29th in Baltimore.  Beat Pittsburgh and everything else should fall into place.