Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had time unflattering things to say about the Pittsburgh Steelers defense after he put together his best statistical showing against them in his career back in Week Four of this season, a 26-14 loss for the home team at Heinz Field.
Those comments didn’t sit well. Not just with the defense, but with the entire time. guard Ramon Foster told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that his comments were “kind of shocking”, suggesting “he didn’t feel like he was hit hard enough. We’ll see how it goes. You don’t really see a quarterback saying anything like that”.
That was a turning point for the entire team, as the Steelers have gone on to have a three-game winning streak that has catapulted them from a tied for the worst record in the division to standing alone as the best. And they look to not only continue that streak, but to exorcise some demons from the first quarter of the seasons as they head to Baltimore for a rematch against the Ravens.
“We can’t be nobody’s turnaround. That’s what I feel like we realized coming in after that one”, Foster said, referring to the Ravens’ 1-3 record since beating the Steelers, falling to 4-4. “You get embarrassed like that at home, dropping two AFC games [including a Week Two loss to the Chiefs] at the house, not cool, not OK. And we’re like, ‘all right guys, we have to get our stuff together’”.
They certainly weren’t the Cleveland Browns’ turnaround last week. The Browns were 2-2-1 after five games, but lost their previous two games heading into their second contest against the Steelers this past Sunday. Pittsburgh blew them out, 33-18, and in the aftermath Cleveland fired its head coach and offensive coordinator.
The Cincinnati Bengals, whom they beat in their game before the bye, were in no need of a turnaround, having won their previous two games heading into that game against the Steelers, sitting at 4-1 at the time. But they allowed no respite to the Atlanta Falcons either. They were 1-3 heading into Pittsburgh, losers of their past two, as the Steelers dominated them 41-17. Atlanta has won its past two games since.
So there is that, if anything. Of the two times this season that the Steelers have faced a team that was nursing a losing streak, they dominated and prolonged their suffering. Even got a couple of people fired. That is what they need to be able to do against the Ravens.
Foster said that Head Coach Mike Tomlin emphasized after the first Ravens loss at home that such performance, especially at Heinz Field, were simply unacceptable. “We can’t play that way”, the veteran lineman echoed.
Have they really turned things around? This will be their biggest test since the last time they lost. On paper, and even on the field, it looks like a much better team. Certainly not one without flaws, but one that can win. And one that is driven to prove itself.