Steelers vs. Ravens: A Decade-By-Decade Breakdown Of One Of The NFL’s Best Rivalries

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It didn’t take long for the Steelers and Ravens to become one of the NFL’s best rivalries. While the rivalry is only a quarter of a century old, there have already been a slew of epic matches between the two teams, with many of those matches helping determine which team would win the AFC North. On a few occasions, the winner of this game has represented the AFC at the Super Bowl.

On Sunday, the two teams will add a new chapter to this rivalry, as Ben Roethlisberger will play in what is likely his last game of the regular season. It could be Roethlisberger’s last game if the Steelers don’t secure a win and some outside help from the Jaguars, who are double-digit underdogs entering Sunday’s game against the Colts. The Ravens also need a win and some outside help if they are to advance to the playoffs for a fourth straight year.

Before the two teams face off on Sunday, we’ve decided to take a look at more than three decades of the Steelers-Ravens rivalry, a rivalry that is just as intense now as it has ever been.

90s

Global H2H assessment: Steelers 6-2
Longest winning streak: 5 (Steels)
Best games: Steelers 42, Ravens 34 (1997); Ravens 31, Steelers 24 (1999)

After winning the very first game between the two teams, the reigning AFC champion 96 Steelers were upset by Baltimore in Week 14. Ironically, the two scores were the same in both competitions, the winner each time winning by a score of 31-17. In 1997, the Steelers, after a 2-2 start, found themselves behind the Ravens 21-0 in the first quarter and 24-7 at halftime. But led by Kordell Stewart’s five touchdowns (which included a 74-yard rush in the fourth quarter), Jerome Bettis’ 137 rushing yards and Yancey Thigpen’s 162 yards, the Steelers won 42-34 in what remains the biggest comeback in franchise history. . In their Week 11 rematch in Pittsburgh, the Steelers recorded a 37-0 victory that remains the biggest margin of victory in the rivalry’s history.

As Pittsburgh swept away the Ravens again in 1998, games between the two teams were much more competitive. And after the visiting Steelers beat the Ravens by three points in Week 2 of the 1999 season, Baltimore finally broke through in Week 14. Facing a shaky Steelers team that were in the middle of a Six-game losing streak, the Ravens won 31-24 in what was their first victory in Pittsburgh. The Ravens were led that day by running back Priest Holmes (130 yards, one touchdown) and wide receiver Qadry Ismail, who caught three touchdowns while posting a Three Rivers Stadium record of 258 receiving yards.

2000s

Global H2H assessment: Steelers 12-10
H2H playoff record: Steelers 2-0
Longest winning streak: 5 (Steels)
Best game: Steelers 23, Ravens 14 (2008 AFC Championship Match)

“There are people on both teams who really don’t like each other.”

Ben Roethlisberger’s quote from 2009 best describes the feelings between the Steelers and the Ravens over the past quarter century. This was especially true in the 2000s, when the two franchises fought at least twice a year. Over the decade, the two teams combined to win three Super Bowls while facing each other in the playoffs on two separate occasions. The first meeting took place in 2001, when Pittsburgh dethroned the defending champions at Heinz Field, 27-10. The victory was the second of five straight wins in the series for the Steelers, who gained the upper hand in the rivalry until Steve McNair, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed led Baltimore to a Pittsburgh sweep in 2006.

The two teams were on a level playing field in 2008, as the Steelers and Ravens had the league’s two best defensive units. While the Ravens were a formidable foe, the Steelers, led by Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu and defensive player of the year James Harrison, were just a little better in their three games against Baltimore that season. After rallying behind to beat the visiting Ravens in week 4, a touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes in the dying seconds, Pittsburgh took a 13-9 victory over Baltimore in Week 15, which helped the Steelers claim the AFC North title.

In one of the most physical playoff games in recent memory, the Ravens looked poised to take the lead late in the AFC Championship game. Polamalu, however, essentially ended the game when he returned a Joe Flacco interception over 40 yards for the deciding score. The Steelers ended up defeating the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII, while the Ravens would have to wait six more years before securing their first playoff victory over Pittsburgh.

2010s

Global H2H assessment: Ravens 13-9
H2H playoff record: Tied 1-1
Longest winning streak: 4 (Crows)
Best game: Steelers 31, Ravens 27 (December 25, 2016)

The Ravens-Steelers rivalry was almost as good in the 2010s as it was in the decade before. Not only did the Ravens win their very first decade against the Steelers (when it comes to winning and losing record), Baltimore also won their very first playoff game against Pittsburgh, as Joe Flacco led his team to a 30-17 win over the Steelers in the 2014 wild card round.

Four years earlier, the Steelers – like they did in 2008 – had two unlikely wins over their great rival. Lagging behind the Ravens at the end of a Week 13 game in Baltimore, Troy Polamalu’s forced fumble against Flacco gave Ben Roethlisberger the touchdown pass that helped the Steelers win the division. Six weeks later, after falling behind the Ravens 21-7 in the divisional playoff round, Roethlisberger’s 58-yard achievement against Antonio Brown with just over two minutes to go crowned the victory. of Pittsburgh.

While these games are classics, it’s impossible to compare the 2016 Christmas Day Showdown to the best game of the decade between the two franchises. In front of a national television audience, the Ravens took a 20-10 lead before a pair of touchdowns from Le’Veon Bell put Pittsburgh in the lead. After the Ravens regained the lead with 1:18 remaining, seven assists from Roethlisberger saw Brown secure his winning touchdown pass with just four seconds left. The catch, called Pittsburgh’s “pristine extension,” won the division title for the Steelers while knocking Baltimore out of the playoffs.

2020s

Global H2H assessment: Steelers 3-0
Best game: Steelers 20, Ravens 19 (December 5, 2021)

The balance of power in the rivalry returned to Pittsburgh in the early 2020s. The Steelers swept the series of the season in 2020 and are set for a second straight sweep if they can beat the Ravens on Sunday.

The best clash of the decade between the teams came in Week 13 of this season. Following back-to-back losses, the Steelers kept their season alive by rallying from behind to defeat the Ravens, who suffered a second straight loss after an 8-3 start to the season. Trailing 10-3 early in the fourth quarter, Roethlisberger led three goals scored, two of which ended in touchdowns to Diontae Johnson.

Baltimore responded with a touchdown pass from Lamar Jackson to Sammy Watkins with 12 seconds left. But instead of leveling the game and forcing overtime, the Ravens decided to aim for the win on a two-point conversion try. On the attempt, Steelers outside linebacker TJ Watt managed to disrupt Jackson’s pass attempt for Mark Andrews, who was unable to cancel the errant pitch. Watt led the Steelers’ defensive charge with 3.5 sacks, while Roethlisberger won their fourth straight game against the Ravens since the 2018 season.

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