The Baltimore Ravens may have only managed to win five of their first 10 games, but they have been able to achieve three of those victories by completely shutting out their opponents. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ divisional younger brother had recorded three shutouts so far this season, which is a rare feat in the NFL.
Even if the teams that they have managed to shut out, at least in the games in which they were shut out, have been less than impressive. Those three teams on the brunt end of the Ravens’ defense this year have been the Cincinnati Bengals, the Miami Dolphins, and the Green Bay Packers.
In the case of the Bengals, their offense was completely dreadful at the start of the season, and they fired their offensive coordinator after two games. They lost their two best offensive linemen and struggled to adjust.
The Dolphins were already without their true starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, for the season, but when they played the Ravens, Jay Cutler was also out, meaning that Matt Moore was in the game. Though he was their primary backup a year ago as well.
The Packers, whom they just blanked, were quarterbacked by Brett Hundley, whom the Steelers will face tonight, hoping to find similar success. The third-year quarterback, starting in place of Aaron Rodgers, threw a number of interceptions and clearly looked outmatched.
The Ravens will be facing yet another backup quarterback on Monday night, with Tom Savage, formerly playing for Pittsburgh in college, starting for the Texans after rookie Deshaun Watson suffered a torn ACL. The Steelers will get a crack at him in about a month on Christmas Day.
The last team to record three shutouts in a single season was the Patriots, back in 2003. Only five teams have accomplished the feat over the course of the past 30 years. Getting a fourth would certainly be impressive, no matter who the opponent is. These are all professionals, after all, even the backups.
For the Steelers, it has been a bit of a while since they have last managed to hold an opponent scoreless. The last time they have done so was during the 2011 season, when they actually did it twice, to the Seahawks and Rams. Of course, those two teams were much worse then than they are currently. The best they managed since those shutouts was six points, accomplished a few times.
They had one shutout during their most recent Super Bowl season in 2008, blanking the Browns at the time. They also shut out the Seahawks (again) and the Dolphins in 2007. Those are the only five shutouts under Mike Tomlin since he took over in 2007.
Of course, their stellar defensive unit of 1976 recorded five shutouts, which I believe is more than any other single team has ever recorded in NFL history. They allowed just 9.9 points per game that season. Oh, and that was a 14-game season, so they shut out more than a third of their opponents.