The last time the Baltimore Ravens swept the Pittsburgh Steelers? Not long ago. You only have to go back to 2015 to find the last time they dropped both games to their biggest rival, yet they still went 10-6, made it to the postseason, and reached the Divisional Round before losing to the eventual champion Broncos, playing with a depleted roster.
The Steelers at least have already assured that they cannot be swept again this season, having already gone into Baltimore and come out with a victory, which is the first time that they have managed to do so since the 2012 season, when they actually finished the season 8-8 and missed the playoffs.
But the last time that swept the Ravens during their season series? It’s almost unbelievable, but you would have to go all the way back to the Super Bowl season of 2008 in order to find your answer.
And the Steelers actually beat the Ravens three times that season, including in the AFC Championship game that sent them on to the Super Bowl. A young Joe Flacco was intercepted late by safety Troy Polamalu, returned for a touchdown that sealed the game with a 23-14 victory.
So it has been nearly a decade since the Steelers can claim to have owned the Ravens. Baltimore even owns the most recent playoff victory between the two teams, as they went into Pittsburgh during the 2014 postseason and took them down in the Wildcard Round, making sure they were a one-and-done team that year.
While the two teams have generally split their two games each year, Baltimore can boast that it has swept the Steelers twice in recent years. Aside from the 2015 season previously mentioned, they also took Pittsburgh down twice in 2011.
Those two games made up half of Pittsburgh’s losses that year, going 12-4, and yet they had to play a game on the road in the Wildcard Round because the Ravens also went 12-4 and owned the head-to-head tiebreaker. You might remember that eventual playoff game. It was the only one ever featuring a certain Tim Tebow actually putting up yardage.
So the Steelers are in their best position in nearly a decade to put the Ravens in their place, in a game that actually means more to Baltimore than it does to Pittsburgh, at least in the standings. The home team has a 10-2 record, tied for the best in the league, while the visiting team is nursing a one-game lead for the second wildcard spot despite winning three consecutive games.
But you can rest assured that all of that extra stuff falls to the wayside when these two teams play, and all that suddenly matters is beating the other team. Yes, the goal in every game is to win. But you can only beat the Ravens when you play them, and you don’t want to let that opportunity slip by. Especially if it can spoil their season. Twice.