A Ravens Fans Begrudging Way Of Saying The Steelers Helped Shape The Super Bowl Team In 2012…
In 2012, the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl. Ray Lewis got to take his John Elway like walk off into the sunset. The Ravens finally had climbed the mountain; for five straight years they got so close. How did the Ravens reach the top? How was the team built.
One theory is that the Ravens were hardened and shaped by their biannual battles with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After the Billick era, you saw a concerted effort to build a championship team that reflected their rivals’ championship teams.
It started with the hiring of John Harbaugh. Harbaugh was hired to be a Bill Cowher type coach. He’s tough and gritty. He’s a master motivator and a boss who delegates duties to his staff.
Harbaugh like Cowher, is the unquestioned boss who manages the team. He does not call the plays, but his hand is in everything the Ravens do. Harbaugh manages to be a blend of fiery enthusiasm and respected stoicism.
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Joe Flacco came to fill the Ben Roethlisberger role. He is a big and tough quarterback with a rocket arm. He always comes up in the clutch and he was practically made for AFC North football. The worst thing the Ravens ever did was injure Tommy Maddox. Ben Roethlisberger came in and became the Steelers Super Bowl winning quarterback. The Ravens knew they needed a guy like Roethlisberger.
Anquan Boldin was a much less annoying version of Hines Ward. He was the guy who made the play no matter what. He provided toughness at the wide receiver position, and gave the offense a little attitude. Dennis Pitta filled the Heath Miller role, a dependable tight end who had a knack for the timely reception.
Vonta Leach added physicality to the offense. Bernard Pollard added the kill-shot to the defense. Pollard was an enforcer, a guy you didn’t want to mess with. The biggest lesson the Ravens learned from the Steelers, was that tough wasn’t tough enough.
I hate giving credit to the enemy, but the Steelers inadvertently had a hand in the Ravens success. They gave the Ravens a model to follow. They won. They frustrated the Ravens and hardened them. The Ravens built their team to withstand the battle of a Steelers team that was a fixture in the AFC playoffs, and their top rival.
I think it goes both ways. I think the Steelers have seen things that the Ravens have done, and tried to imitate them as well. Both teams have been wildly successful over the past twenty seasons. Both teams have two Super Bowl titles in that time. That’s why the games between Baltimore and Pittsburgh are so compelling. The teams are often built the same way.