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Steelers Destroy the Ravens on Monday Night Football
The stage is set. It was the 75th anniversary of the Steelers franchise and many heroes from the past were in attendance. There were Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, Jerome Bettis, Jack Lambert, Mean Joe Green, Jack Hamm, John Stallworth, Rocky Blier and more. Bill Cover also returned to Heinz Field to celebrate the night the hated Ravens came to town. The Steelers were 5-2 and 1-step behind the Ravens and Cleveland in the division.
The Steelers got the ball first and Willie Parker’s first run was a 1-yard run. The Ravens defense is always tough against the run and I thought it would be a struggle for Parker. Bain hit Ward for a nice 15 yard pass that resulted in a 1st down. The Ravens’ starting cornerbacks were inactive with injuries so the passing game was going to be key. It was raining so hard during the first series that I thought the game was being played in Florida. The Ravens defense held and the Steelers went 3 and out. I was really hoping the Steelers would set the tone on their opening series by driving and scoring a touchdown.
The Steelers punt the ball and it goes into the endzone for a touchback. Steve McNair and the Ravens start at the 20 yard line. The Ravens try to establish a running game by running W.McGahee and L.McClain for a total of 4 yards on 1st and 2nd down. The Ravens are able to get a 1st down with a pass from McNair to Q.Sypniewski. The Ravens have a fresh set of downs and a 1st down McNair throw and an incomplete pass to D.Mason. 2nd down W.McGahee is stopped by T.Polamalu for -3 loss.
Now it’s 3rd and 13 and something is about to happen that will set the tone for the rest of the game. McNair takes the snap in the shotgun and Joey Porter’s replacement, James Harrison, forces McNair to fumble the ball which is also recovered by James Harrison. I have to admit I’m a huge Joey Porter fan and I was worried that losing him would mean the Steelers would lose some of the nastiness and toughness we’ve come to expect. Millions of football fans were about to witness a coming out party for James Harrison who would terrorize the Ravens offense overnight.
Points on turnovers are huge and the Steelers had to score here. They had the ball on the Ravens 20 yard line and the rain had subsided. Once again the Ravens D stiffened and forced the Steelers into a 3rd down situation. I predict the Steelers will try a short pass to pick up the 3 yards needed for a 1st down. Ben took the snap over the middle and dropped back to pass. The Ravens pass rush and Ben throws the ball to Heath Miller in the endzone for a touchdown! Bain was hit after the pass was thrown and T. Suggs was called for roughing the passer. That’s what I’m talking about. Going for a touchdown in the red zone, not a field goal! Steelers 7 Ravens 0.
The Ravens get the ball and the Steelers defense forces them to go 3 and out. The Steelers get the ball back and I fully expect them to go down the field and score again. The Steelers are forced into 3rd and 2 and Benn throws an incomplete pass to Nate Washington. I thought the Steelers should have taken advantage of the wet field to gut Davenport on 3rd down.
The Steelers punt the ball and are offsetting the penalty which means a 4th down replay. Sepulveda throws the ball to the dangerous Ed Reed who plays the ball at the Ravens 32 yard line. Ed Reed makes his return and drives in a Mack truck as James Harrison. James Harrison basically catches Reid in mid-air and Bodie slams him to the turf and in the process the ball comes out and the Steelers Timmons catches him which returns the fumble to the Ravens 28. TV and it was a thing of beauty. At this point, James Harrison had 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 sack and national name recognition. Harrison played like a caged animal, let loose on the crows!
James Harson set up the Steelers well with his huge fumble and they had to score some points. 4 plays later Bain had 1st at the Ravens 18 and the Steelers at the 10 with 2:30 left in the first quarter. Big Ben then hit Santonio Holmes for a 15 yard touchdown pass to make it a 14-0 game.
The current Steelers put on a great show for the Monday Night Football crowd, and Bradshaw and the rest of the former players were proud of the historic night. The Steelers ended the 1st quarter with a 14-0 lead.
The 2nd quarter is just as exciting as the 1st with 3 Ben Roethlisberger touchdown passes. The first was a 30 yard pass play to Nate Washington, the second was a 35 yard pass to Santonio Holmes and the third was a 7 yard pass play to Nate Washington. The Ravens were able to get on the scoreboard with a 33 yard McGahee TD run. James Harrison continued his one-man wrecking crew when Williams intercepted a pass to McNair.
The first half ended with the Steelers winning 35-7. Big Ben became only the 3rd Steeler player in NFL history to throw 5 touchdowns in a game. Terry Bradshaw and Mark Malone were the only other players to throw 5 TD passes in a single game. Big Ben looked impressive in the first half with accurate passing and excellent scrambling away from the pass rush. The running game wasn’t there and Ben picked up the slack and had the offense on his hands. The defense was playing as expected except for James Harrison’s monster game.
The 2nd half wasn’t as exciting as the 1st but the Steelers were up by 28 points and the Ravens couldn’t get things started. The Steelers were able to pad their stats in the 3rd quarter with a 22 yard field goal by Jeff Reed. Big Ben looked hurt on a 3rd and 7 play in the third quarter when he rolled out and was hit after hitting Santonio Holmes for a 45 yard pass play. Ben was down for a few minutes and when he moved to the side he was seen to be in pain. It was later determined that he suffered a hip pointer injury when he hit the turf hard. James Harshan padded his incredible stats by recording another sack on McNair. The Ravens were unable to put a single point on the board in the 3rd quarter.
Bain returned in the fourth quarter but saw little action. Charlie Bach replaces Ben and is blocked by Ed Reed. You can’t blame Bach because the poor guy hasn’t seen play in ages. Raven eventually replaced McNair with Bowler who couldn’t even move the ball. The Steelers won big by a score of 38-7!
James Harrison became the first player since 1982 to have 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception, 3.5 sacks and 10 tackles. James Harrison was a beast tonight and let’s hope tonight was just a sample of what’s to come. On the 75th anniversary of our beloved Pittsburgh Steelers, it was great to see Bill Cowher and all the Steeler heroes of the past celebrate such a great victory.
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