View From 522: Steelers vs. Ravens

Since Gretz is a season-ticket holder, he’s going to take a look at the debauchery and insanity that takes place in the Heinz Field stands after every home game he attends.

The Steelers said there was no panic in the locker room at halftime on Saturday night when they were down by two touchdowns. The same couldn’t have been said for the stands (mostly due to me, I imagine).

Even after two quarters of football that saw the Steelers offense hand out points like it was their job, I said that it was only going to take one play to turn everything around. It couldn’t have been more than two plays later when Ryan Clark forced a fumble that bounced right into the waiting hands of LaMarr Woodley.

Game on.

– First things first, Steeler Nation simply brought it on Saturday. I’ve been disappointed with the noise level quite a bit over the past couple of years, but this game was simply deafening at times. The loudest moment was probably after the Steelers made it 21-14 on the Ben Roethlisberger-to-Heath Miller touchdown, which resulted in the playing of the Renegade video (first of three times on the night). The crowd never stopped on that series. Usually, everyone gets psyched up for the play, then once the play ends there’s a bit of a lull while the teams are in the huddle, and then everyone gets amped up again for the next play. Not this time. The noise never stopped, and when James Harrison recorded one of his three sacks on the first play, that just sent everyone into an even bigger frenzy.

Here’s a video I found of that sequence (note: Not my video and, thus, not The View From 522)…

The announced attendance was only 64,000-plus, which just doesn’t seem right. For one, Heinz Field capacity is just a little over 65,000, and they had the added luxury of around 1,400 extra seats that were still in place from the Winter Classic. And from what I could see, there wasn’t an empty seat anywhere in the stadium.

– Say what you want about Terrell Suggs, but the guy can play. If he were a Steeler, Steelers fans would love him for the same reason they loved Greg Lloyd and Joey Porter. Players like him make rivalries fun, and even more fun when they’re on the other team and you beat them. And for all of the talk, he typically backs it up on the field, as he did on Saturday with three sacks.

– During the preview Podcast Ryan asked me my thoughts on how many Ravens fans would be in attendance, and I wasn’t quite sure how to answer because it always seems to change on a game-to-game basis. On Saturday, there were quite a few; probably the most I’ve ever seen at Heinz Field, including a huge pocket to our left in the upper deck. For the most part, I didn’t see any problems, and most altercations in the stands involved Steeler fan vs. Steeler fan (as they usually do), including a brawl directly in front of us after the Steelers tied the game. It all started over somebody getting bumped and innocently spilling part of their beer on the guy and front of him, who was convinced it was done on purpose. Bad things happened.

– I mentioned this on the post-game Podcast, and I’ll mention it again here: When John Harbaugh threw the challenge flag early in the fourth quarter as the Steelers attempted to hurry up and run a play before the Ravens could get set, I don’t for one second believe Harbaugh didn’t know he wasn’t allowed to challenge the play (by rule, the only spots that are allowed to be challenged are first downs). He wanted to stop the Steelers momentum, give his defense a chance to get set, and do so without burning an extremely important timeout.

Honestly, I thought it was a great move and one that I would have made if in that same situation simply because it’s allowed by the rules. The question I brought up: Should it be?

If you challenge a play and lose, you’re punished by losing a challenge, and if it’s your second challenge, not being able to challenge another play. Why, then, are you allowed to throw the flag on a play that is not reviewable and not be punished? You’re still stopping the game (delaying it), the play is not overturned. Shouldn’t the coach know the rules enough to know what is and what isn’t reviewable? In this example, that’s a pretty large loophole in the rule. But I certainly don’t begrudge Harbaugh for taking advantage of it.

– This matchup was an interesting look at two different approaches to building a passing game. On one side, you had the Ravens approach: Good — but not great — quarterback that is surrounded by a bunch of big, big name, big money wide receivers (Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, T.J. Houshmandzadeh) to elevate the quarterback. On the other side, you have a franchise quarterback that is surrounded by a bunch of young, athletic, fast game-breakers. The Ravens group, while physically imposing, lacked explosiveness and speed. Something the Steelers group has plenty of, along with the ability to run away from coverage and defenders and gain separation.

The Steelers passing game made huge plays when needed. The Ravens passing game did not.

– Quick jersey watch: Saw the second No. 44 Dick LeBeau Detroit Lions jersey of the season, and also saw this guy sporting a Pittsburgh Penguins No. 22 Rick Tocchet jersey (diagonal “Pittsburgh” style).

Good times.

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  • yoni

    Just going by the audio on the television, it was the loudest I can remember a Steelers home game. When the ball came flying out of Ray Rice’s hands the collective OHHHHHHHH of the crowd was awesome, and seeing the defensive players like Polamalu excitedly running off the field before the official signal was given just gave me chills. You could sense at that moment the crowd believed, and I really think they lifted the defense to another level in the second half.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t agree with your characterization of the differences between how the franchises build a passing game. If you line up the receivers Wallace is a pro bowl snub and clearly superior to Boldin and Ward is the better possesion receiver/cagey veteran compared with Mason. Houshmandzadeh is more productive than Sanders at this point. In my opinion a better contrast than big name QB/small name receivers vs small name QB/big name receivers is the Steelers drafted theirs whereas the Ravens picked up proven veterans.

  • eddie

    this column is one of my favorite regular’s of the year, and i’m psyched that there’ll be one more.

    that crowd was as crazy as it was in my house… that video was exactly as i hoped it was going to be. unreal. potsie was proud, i’m sure.

    the jets are a good team, but i don’t fear them. stone handz spaeth lost that game (TWICE!!!). ryan has been quiet for a reason so far – this is the toughest team he’s faced in the playoffs.

  • Randy Steele

    I think you mentioned this during your podcast, but I was convinced that Flacco’s fumbled snap was caused by the crowd noise. Give credit for that turnover to the 12th man.

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  • SteelerBill

    Nice work Adam, as always….and Randy you are correct…it was deafening prior to the snap to Flacco – not sure how the Ravens could hear – my Uncle, who attended the game, with me was yelling, or at least I could read his lips, ‘they can’t audible…’

    Also, Harbaugh’s ‘challenge’ was a good move as he ‘claimed’ he thought they marked a first down…


  • SteelerBill

    Sorry, couldn’t see the bottom of my post….

    Here’s hoping it is just as loud versus the Jets…

  • GlennW

    Re. Terrell Suggs: some very classy, humble thoughts from him in the postgame. Same thing from Ray-Ray and even Harbaugh, actually. Don’t think it wasn’t noticed, Ravens. A different and much more respectful reaction from both teams than all the nonsense that went on both before and after the Patriots-Jets rivalry game.

    • Bob Costas

      I was going to comment on the contrast between Suggs and Lewis in the post game. Suggs says a lot of brazen, often stupid, things pre-game but was very candid and thoughtful in the post-game. Lewis on the other hand was nauseating with a lot of, in my opinion, calculated and insincere leadership/father/God references.

      • GlennW

        I can see that reaction to Lewis’s comments, that they indeed were calculated (I would disagree with insincere, since I think Lewis is legitimate in his religious beliefs even if I’d just as soon not have them dumped on me in such a forum). My overall point though was that we weren’t hearing any bitterness or smack-talk– rather that the Ravens were beaten fair and square by the better team.

  • ktulu22

    On TV, the crowd definitely seemed extra loud. The TV cameras were shaking on a few of those big plays in the 3rd quarter. The loudest Heinz Field has ever appeared to be on TV.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    In terms of Ravens fans, there were four in our section. One in particular was a total tool and I thought he was going to leave with multiple broken bones. He shattered the Simmons rule about not being a douchebag in another team’s stadium. Three days later, I still smile at how painful the outcome must be for him.

    As for postgame comments, I only caught the ones that Lewis made that were replayed in a loop on ESPNews. He said that the Ravens D played “balls out.” Not sure how that one got by the censors. He also basically threw his offense under the bus. Quite the classy leader. I guess the Brown catch was a real kick in the nads.

    It will be interesting to see what happens to the Ravens. Reed discussed retirement before the season, Lewis will be entering his 16th year, and those receivers aren’t getting faster or better. Without as many injuries, their OL has played at our level. And Flacco is just good enough that they will probably keep him but not necessarily good enough to go deep in the playoffs.

    My brother made an interesting comparison between the Ravens and the Oilers: a hated rival that always plays us tough in the regular season but almost always or always comes up short against us in the postseason.

  • Don

    Just a note: Harbaugh was challenging the spot because he was pretending it was ruled as a 1st down. He was delaying the game by acting stupid.