Dom’s Saturday History Special, Week 1: Steelers vs. Ravens

9 of 11

October 29, 2000

De-Fense, De-Fense!

Steelers 9 – Ravens 6

After starting the 2000 season with a miserable 0-3 record, the Steelers gave little hope to their fans in terms of inspiring them.  Yet once the calendar hit October 1st, the team transformed and the Defense rose up with authority.  Heading into their Week 10 matchup in Baltimore, the Steelers’ Defense had given up only one Touchdown during the month of October over a four game winning streak.  Shoot, the Steelers had given up 16 points total and had shut out the Bengals and the Browns in the two previous weeks.  The Ravens on the other hand had not scored an offensive Touchdown in four games and was looking to right the proverbial ship standing at 5-3 after starting the season at 5-1.  Even still, Baltimore’s Defense was freakin incredible that season, and as we know now the unit is probably one of the Top 3 Defenses of All-Time.  These two defensive giants would do battle at then PSINet Stadium that day and what those of us who watched it got was probably the best played game in terms of Defense of the 2000 N.F.L. season.

No love was lost in this rivalry even in this nascent stage, and after the 16-0 ass whooping the Ravens laid on the Steelers at Three Rivers in Week 1, you could tell the bad blood was beginning to flow.  Shannon Sharpe I remember had been mouthing off like he always did in Denver, and having grown up there I knew what a total douche canoe he could be when he ran his mouth like that.  To the Steelers’ credit they said nothing and just rode into PSINet Stadium looking for their 5th win in a row.

The 1st Half of the game was well what you’d expect from two teams with outstanding D’s and little going for them on the Offensive side of the football.  The entire 1st Quarter was scoreless  Defense for both squads displayed their just tenacious and outstanding Defenses.  It pains me to say, but when they aren’t playing the Steelers, watching the Ravens’ Defense just clobber people is fantastic.   In the 2nd Quarter, Baltimore was able to penetrate Steeler territory just enough on two drives that led to Matt Stover FG’s from 51 and 49 yards.  Luckily for the Steelers they were only a big play away from at least tying or going ahead in the game so being down 6-0 even against the Ravens wasn’t so bad.

As the 3rd Quarter started the Steelers began to at string a few offensive plays together.  Then Kordell Stewart pulled the trigger and fired a 45 yard TD to Hines Ward to tie the game at 6 all.  Like so many times in his career, Hines came up with a huge play against Baltimore to swing momentum in the Steelers’ direction.  The game stayed tied at 6 though because Kris Brown missed the P.A.T.!  What could have been enough to win the game was missed and the Steelers needed to find another way to score, because those opportunities didn’t come along a lot that season against the Ravens.  Then the Ravens made their biggest mistake of the day as they fumbled the kick return and the Steelers were able to get the ball back deep in Baltimore territory.  Kris Brown booted a 24 yard chip shot after the Steelers failed to convert the turnover into a Touchdown deep in the Red Zone and they were ahead 9-6.

The Ravens came close the rest of the way with chances to at least tie, and I about had a heart attack over the final Quarter and a half of play.  However, the Steelers Defense was the one that held that day and proved to be the best unit on the field.  The Ravens mounted a decent drive late in the game, but Dewayne Washington was able to pick off a Dilfer pass and got the Steelers a touchback.  The Steelers were able to hold their own the rest of the way and won the game 9-6 and beat the Ravens at their own game.

Shannon Sharpe may have had to eat his words that day, but he would get the last laugh at the end of the season.  This would be the Ravens’ last loss of the 2000 season as they were able to string together an 11 game winning streak all the way to a Super Bowl title.  Who knows, had the Steelers made the playoffs and had to play Baltimore, could they have beaten them again?  I don’t know.  All I do know is that this was one of the most down and dirty games of this rivalry where the D’s reigned supreme and made the Offenses look down right pathetic.  This style of play may never be seen again if Roger Goodell has anything to say about it that’s for sure.