The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2017 season ended not only prematurely, but also bitterly, suffering an early postseason exit after falling to the Jacksonville Jaguars at home in the Divisional Round by a score of 45-42. The wounds are still fresh, but it’s time to relive the 2017 season that was, starting from the beginning.
Chapter VIII – Rebound Beatdown in Baltimore
If there is one way to clear your head after an ugly and disappointing loss, then it is being thrown into the lion’s den against your biggest rival, and that is the situation that the Steelers faced coming off of a seemingly inexplicable loss to the Chicago Bears in overtime.
Pittsburgh followed that road defeat with a trip into Maryland to face the Baltimore Ravens. While their nemesis had slipped in recent years, they continued to play the Steelers tough, and that was especially the case in Baltimore, where they had lost four games in a row.
So that trip into town was an opportunity to exorcise a number of demons and right a handful of wrongs. They had to get back on track for the season, but they also had to prove, to themselves and to the Ravens, that they could come into their turf and take control.
That is exactly what they did, and in the process that authored one of their most convincing wins of the season—particularly of the first half of the season. While it may not have quite felt like it, the Steeleres won by 17 points, their largest margin of victory against the Ravens since 2014, and the largest in Baltimore in the history of the rivalry.
Not that the game started out looking that way. While the offense was able to move the ball early, including a couple of sustained drives of eight or more plays, they settled for field goals, nursing a 6-0 midway through the second quarter.
That soon changed thanks to a spark by Cameron Heyward, who was able to penetrate the Ravens’ front and tackle Alex Collins in the backfield. He popped the ball loose and recovered his own fumble, setting the offense up at the Ravens’ 28-yard line.
And the offense responded, mostly on the ground, culminating in a one-yard Le’Veon Bell touchdown run. They forced a three-and-out and were able to score yet another touchdown before halftime, this one going to rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster from 11 yards out, after which he introduced an ignorant football world to the Kamehameha.
The Ravens began to come back, scoring nine points in the third quarter—a two-point rushing attempt failed—but Bell would close out the game with one more rushing touchdown that would ice the game with under three minutes to play, putting it out of reach.
The ship was righted, and the Steelers were back on track, right where they belonged, looking at a 3-1 record through the first quarter of the season. Unfortunately, the low point of the regular season was just around the corner, waiting for them at home.