Advertise Here
<img src="../../../..../../../../images/flash_navbar.gif" width="208" height="399" usemap="#navbar" border="0">

Baltimore Ravens Team Store Pressbox



Thursday - 1/17/2002

By Christine Stewart

Fortunately for the Baltimore Ravens, they know a thing or two about winning on the road. Even better, recent history suggests they possess a successful formula for playing at Pittsburgh. Since moving from Cleveland in 1996, the Ravens have won three of six meetings when visiting the Steel City. The same can't be said when they've faced the Steelers at PSINet Stadium in Baltimore, where Pittsburgh has won
five of six regular-season contests.

The Ravens won their most recent road trip to Pittsburgh on Nov. 4 at Heinz Field, due in large part to four missed field goals by Steelers K Kris Brown. But perhaps their most convincing victory in the series came in last
year's season-opener on Sept. 3, 2000. Suffice to say, Baltimore made its final appearance at Three Rivers Stadium a memorable one.

In a 16-0 victory, the Ravens offered a preview of what would go on to rank as one of the NFL's greatest defenses ever. Baltimore's fierce pass rush had Pittsburgh QB Kent Graham on the run all day and didn't allow the offense to
cross midfield until the second half. The Steelers were held to 30 yards rushing, including just eight yards on nine carries by RB Jerome Bettis. Pittsburgh ended up with just 223 net yards, and was shut out at Three Rivers for the first time since 1989.

The Steelers finally got something going with an 88-yard drive in the fourth quarter, but Baltimore squashed their momentum with a ferocity the unit later came to pride itself on. Presented with a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Bettis was stopped for no gain. Kordell Stewart, relegated to backup status after an ineffective preseason, came in for two shots at the end zone. He threw incomplete and and then fumbled the snap on third down. In came Graham for fourth-and-goal, only to throw an incompletion of his own.

Shutout preserved.

"That was embarrassing," Bettis said following the game. "We couldn't move the ball at all. It was rough going out there."

The Ravens were no offensive juggernaut themselves, as they were still getting comfortable with a new scheme concentrated more on short throws than deep passes. The lone touchdown came on Tony Banks' 53-yard hookup with WR Qadry Ismail in the first quarter. Matt Stover kicked field goals of 23, 26 and 33 yards to account for the other nine points.

Luckily, the Ravens' stifling play defensively gave the offense plenty of time to grind it out. Running back Priest Holmes churned out 119 yards on 27 carries. Meanwhile, Banks managed a mistake-free game, completing 18 of 32
passes for 199 yards, one TD and no turnovers.

"We kind of played (old-style) Steelers ball," head coach Brian Billick said afterwards. "To do that in their backyard ... the toughest thing in sports must be shutting out a team on the road."

Baltimore went on to shut out three more teams during the 2000 regular season, finishing 12-4 and eventually winning Super Bowl XXXV as a wild card. Although not as impressive during the 2001 regular season, the Ravens
looked startling similar to last year's championship team in last week's 20-3 victory at Miami.

Meanwhile, a lot has changed for the Steelers since that shutout at Three Rivers. They're now AFC Central champions playing in a new stadium with renewed confidence, and are well-rested after earning a first-round bye.
Stewart is having, by far, his finest season directing the offense, Bettis returns to the backfield after recovering from a groin injury, WRs Plaxico Burress and Hines Wards have stepped up big and the defense is ranked No. 1 in the league.

Is it too much for the Ravens to overcome? Sunday will reveal the answer, but one thing is certain: With the road to a possible repeat going directly through Pittsburgh, it's a good thing Baltimore has an ace up its sleeve.

Contact Webmaster Privacy Policy