Even though he is brand new to the rivalry, Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron couldn’t help but note how big games against the Baltimore Ravens are, and that is no doubt true for both sides of the ball. Steelers-Ravens games are some of the most intense in the NFL, and have been for years, which is why the league consistently puts them in primetime games.
And he’s just glad to come out of his first rivalry game with a win, adding a touchdown to the cause on one of his four receptions. Especially when you look back and realize that the Steelers trailed 17-7 at halftime and that the offense had put up zero points and something like 70 yards or less.
“It’s a matchup that you look forward to. They were 5-1; we were 6-0. Like Mike said, this was a different dimension because we hit it”, Ebron said after the game. “We were looking forward to playing a division opponent this Sunday inside of their stadium. I think we anticipated it way too much. I knew our unit was ready, but we didn’t look ready. We came out in the second half more prepared and better understanding of what kind of environment we were in to execute and win”.
While it’s difficult to quantify, pretty much everybody, including Tomlin, has stressed how key it was in this game for them to have the opportunity to go into the locker room at halftime and make some important adjustments. It certainly helped the offense, which put up 21 second-half points, even if those drives were aided by takeaways and penalty yards.
Ebron’s touchdown, for example, came on their second drive of the game, after rookie linebacker Alex Highsmith recorded an interception just outside of the red zone. It didn’t take Ben Roethlisberger much time to find his tight end wide open on an apparent busted coverage to make it a three-point game.
The Steelers had just four drives in the first half, the longest consisting of seven plays and 33 net yards, consuming 3:40 of clock. They ran just 20 plays all told in the first half between those four drives, although they did pick up at least one first down on each of them.
In the second half, they had six drives in total, and while only two of those drives gained more than 24 yards, they both accounted for more than 75 yards (albeit with 55 combined penalty yards between them). They did go three and out on two of their final three possessions. But they also had a two-play, 21-yard touchdown drive.
Were the Steelers really ‘not ready’, or did they simply have to see what the Ravens were going to show them first before they could adjust to it? I certainly think it’s a combination of both. You can only prepare for what you know. The rest is flying by the seat of your pants.