The Pittsburgh Steelers’ run of four straight postseason appearances between 2014 and 2017 was the longest the franchise had had since Bill Cowher made the postseason in each of his first six seasons. They were kept out of the playoffs in each of the past two years, however, and in both cases, the Baltimore Ravens played a big role.
The Steelers did get one win against them in the second game in 2018, but Baltimore won the other three. Last year, needing a win and help, a Ravens team led by backups after they had already secured homefield advantage embarrassed Pittsburgh in the finale. The year before that, their defeat of the Cleveland Browns in Week 17 won them the division, and left the Steelers praying for a tie between the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans as their only remaining chance to make the postseason.
They didn’t. in recent years, the Steelers haven’t gotten much luck when they’ve needed help toward the end of the year. Other teams haven’t given them much to be thankful for. In 2020, they will have to provide their own gratitude, and they can dish it out at Baltimore’s expense at home on Thanksgiving in primetime this year.
“We’ve had a lot of great games against the Ravens down through the years, and obviously the country likes to see them”, said Art Rooney II about being scheduled to play the Ravens on Thanksgiving at Heinz Field. “So we’ve had quite a number of primetime games with them, and it’s always fun, so hosting them on Thanksgiving night will hopefully be a fun night”.
The last time the Steelers hosted the Ravens on a holiday, it was a rather memorable game, ending with the ‘Immaculate Extension’, Pittsburgh running a surprising play in the final seconds, Ben Roethlisberger finding Antonio Brown short of the goal line. He fought through multiple defenders to extend the ball over the goal line for the game-winning score after the defense had led the Ravens pull ahead on the previous drive.
Much has changed since that game, however, and while the Ravens are 0-2 in the postseason in the past two years, the fact is they’ve been there. Since Lamar Jackson took over in the second half of the 2018 season, they have posted a 20-3 record in the regular season.
Jackson was even named the league MVP last season, accounting for 43 total touchdowns, including a league-high 36 passing touchdowns (which is more than any Steelers quarterback has ever thrown in a single season).
The Ravens produced an offense last season like none they have ever had before. The question is whether or not they can provide a sufficient encore. The Steelers hope to be the biggest obstacle in their path. Who will have the most to be thankful for at the end of their showdown on Thanksgiving night?