Over the years, Ravens fans have had to sit through a lot of tough losses, especially to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Santonio Holmes “catch”, the 2008 AFC Championship game, and most recently the 2010 game where Troy Polamalu makes a hell of a play. But the one play that may stick with us for a long time and still hurts to this day happened just 6 months ago on this day.
On January 15th, 2011 I, along with 3 other friends, headed up I-70 W to see our beloved Ravens take on our arch rival, the Steelers. We had a good feeling going into Heinz Field. It was our time, we thought. After finally opening up the offense against Kansas City the week before, the Ravens were gonna go to Pittsburgh, win the game and advance to the AFC Championship. We could feel it.
It started off according to plan. The Steelers had a 1st round bye, and looked sluggish the 1st half. Mistakes and turnovers were costing the Steelers and the Ravens took advantage. Halftime came, 21-7, Ravens ahead. We were all smiles, taking pictures and having good natured smack talk with Steeler fans (we knew we had to get out of there alive, so no heckling from us!).
But as my friend Kiss and I waited patiently for the 2nd half, we had this feeling in our guts…. kinda hard to explain, but we knew it was far from over. We knew that the Steelers had our number, and if we didn’t keep our foot on the gas, they would find new life and start a comeback. We knew our Ravens all too well. This is the same team that put us through many a heart palpitations and anxiety attacks the entire season, despite their 12-4 record. We knew what was to come.
As the 2nd half proceeded it went from good to bad, in what seems like an instant. Ray Rice fumbles… Joe Flacco interception… and other careless mistakes. The Steelers have now scored 17 unanswered points going into the 4th quarter. And it looked like they were sucking the life out of my team, minute by minute.
We weren’t prepared with that happened next. With 2:07 left in the game, the Ravens and Steelers were tied at 24. Ben Roethlisberger was sacked for a 9 yard loss 2 plays prior, and had an incomplete pass on the last play. The down was 3rd and 19. The Ravens put pressure on Big Ben pretty regularly throughout the whole game, so we were confident Terrell Suggs was coming to get his 4th sack of the day.
When the defensive line came to the line of scrimmage, we instantly realized there were only 3 linemen there. It was pretty odd to us, but we figured, maybe they’ll blitz with LBs or even a DB, no sweating it, right?! WRONG!!! No one snuck up on line… not one extra defender. Just as I looked to Kiss and asked, “Why are they only rushing 3 guys??”, they snapped the ball. Then, it happened………
Antonio Brown runs right past LarDarius Webb for a 58-yard completion.
Those are just a few words that described what we felt after that pass. If there was ANY hope that the Ravens would come back before that play, it just flew out of the window with that completion. The Steelers eventually scored the go-ahead TD and the rest is history… 31-24, Steelers advance to the AFC Championship.
(to see my initial reaction on the game, click here)
Six months later, that play and that game STILL haunts Ravens fans. Every now and then, I’ll see a random Facebook update or a tweet that says those three words: “3rd and 19”, and nothing else. In Baltimore we all know what that means. It’s a symbol of the day our football hopes and dreams went right down the drain. It’s a symbol of what happened on that awful day of January 15, 2011.
The good news is the Ravens are still a good football team. Once a new CBA agreement is put together and football is back in our lives, the Ravens should be a contending team yet again. In 2011, they should have the chance to fight for the Lombardi Trophy. But if they have to play the Steelers again to get there, 3rd and 19 will ALWAYS come back to mind……..