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Steelers Destroy the Ravens on Monday Night Football
The stage was set. It was the 75th anniversary of the Steelers franchise and many heroes from the past were on hand to watch. Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, Jerome Bettis, Jack Lambert, Mean Joe Green, Jack Ham, John Stallworth, Rocky Blier and others were there. Even Bill Cowher returned to Heinz Field to celebrate the night the hated Ravens came to town. The Steelers were 5-2 and the Ravens and Cleveland were 1 step behind in the division.
The Steelers got the ball first and Willie Parker’s first drive was for a 1-yard gain. The Ravens defense has always struggled against the run and I thought it would be a struggle for Parker. Benn hit Ward for a nice 15-yard pass play that resulted in a first down. The Ravens’ starting cornerbacks have been inactive due to injuries, so the passing game has been key. During the first series, it rained so hard I thought the game was being played in Florida. The Ravens defense held and the Steelers were 3 and out. I was really hoping the Steelers would set the tone by going down on their first run and scoring.
The Steelers punt the ball and it sails into the end zone for a touchback. Steve McNair and the Ravens start at the 20-yard line. The Ravens try to establish a run game by running W.McGahee and L.McClain on 1st and 2nd downs for a total of 4 yards. The Ravens are able to get the No. 1 pick by adding McNair to K. Sipniewski. The Ravens have another set of downs on McNair’s first down and an incomplete pass to D.Mason. On the second loss, W.McGahee was stopped for a -3 loss to T.Polamalu.
Now it’s 3rd and 13 and something will happen that will set the tone for the rest of the game. McNair goes shotgun and Joey Porter’s replacement, James Harrison, forces McNair to fumble the ball, which is also picked off by James Harrison. I have to admit, I’m a big fan of Joey Porter and I was afraid that losing him would mean that the Steelers would lose some of the nastiness and toughness that we’ve come to expect. Millions of football fans witnessed the party for James Harrison who would terrorize the Ravens offense all night long.
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 let up. Once again the Ravens D held firm and the Steelers were forced into a 3rd down. I suspect the Steelers will attempt a short pass to pick up the 3 yards needed for a first down. Ben took a shot under center and dropped to pass. A Ravens pass rush arrived and Ben threw the ball to Heath Miller in the end zone for a touchdown! Ben was hit after throwing a pass and T.Suggs was called for roughing the pass. That’s what I’m talking about. We’re going for touchdowns, not red zone field goals! Steelers 7 Ravens 0.
The Ravens get the ball and the Steelers defense forces a 3 and out. The Steelers get the ball back and I fully expect them to come down the field and score again. The Steelers are forced on 3rd and 2, and Ben throws an incomplete pass to Nate Washington. I thought the Steelers should have taken advantage of the wet field and gutted Davenport on 3rd down.
The Steelers punt the ball and their penalties made up for it, meaning a Game 4 replay. Sepulveda snaps the ball to the dangerous Ed Reed who punts the ball to the Ravens 32 yard line. Ed Reed begins his comeback and runs into a Mack truck in the form of James Harrison. James Harrison basically catches Reid in the air and body slams him to the turf and in the process the ball pops up and is caught by Timmons of the Steelers who returns the fumble to the Ravens 28. ESPN replayed the Harrison body slam several times on 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 beast in a cage that was targeted and unleashed on the Ravens!
James Harsion set up the Steelers nicely with his forced fumble and they needed to score some points. 4 plays later Ben had the Steelers on 1st and 10 at the Ravens 18 with 2:30 left in the 1st quarter. Big Ben then hits Santoni Holmes for a 15-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0.
Today’s Steelers put on quite a show for the Monday Night Football crowd and did Bradshaw and other former players proud on this historic night. The first quarter ends with the Steelers winning 14-0.
The 2nd quarter proved to be as exciting as the first with 3 touchdown passes from Ben Roethlisberger. The first was a 30-yard pass to Nate Washington, the second was a 35-yarder to Santonio Holmes, and the third was a 7-yard pass to Nate Washington. The Ravens got on the scoreboard with a 33-yard McGahee TD run. James Harrison continues his one-man wrecking crew when he intercepts McNair on a pass intended for Williams.
The first half ended with the Steelers winning 35-7. Big Ben became just the third Steelers player in NFL history to score 5 touchdowns in a game. Other players to throw 5 TD passes in one game were Terry Bradshaw and Mark Malone. Big Ben looked impressive in the first half with accurate passing and great clearance from the pass rush. The run game wasn’t there and Ben picked up the loose and passed the offense on his arm. The defense played as expected, except for James Harrison’s monster game.
The second half wasn’t nearly as exciting as the first, but the Steelers had a 28-point lead and the Ravens couldn’t get started. The Steelers were able to improve their stats in the 3rd quarter with Jeff Reed’s 22-yard field goal. In the 3rd quarter, Big Ben was also injured on a 3rd-and-7 play when he rolled and was hit after hitting Santonio Holmes for a 45-yard pass. Ben was down for a few minutes and appeared to be in pain when he walked to the sideline. It was later determined that he suffered a hip pointer injury when he hit the turf hard. James Harrison also added to his incredible stat line by registering another sack on McNair. The Ravens couldn’t put any points on the board in the 3rd quarter.
Ben returned in the 4th quarter but didn’t see much action. Charlie Batch replaced Ben and was intercepted by Ed Reed. You can’t blame Batch because the poor guy hasn’t seen any playing time in years. Raven ended up replacing McNair with Boller who also couldn’t move the ball. Steelers win big 38-7!
James Harrison becomes 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 hopefully tonight was just a sample of what’s to come. It was great to see Bill Cowher and all the heroes of the past celebrate such a big win on this 75th anniversary of our beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.
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