In 2005, the Steelers had dropped three consecutive games, causing some to question whether Pittsburgh was deserving of a playoff berth. The Steelers won their last four contests in the regular season and eventually the Super Bowl.
Inside linebacker Larry Foote is using that memory as inspiration after Pittsburgh snapped a two-game skid with a 23-20 win against the Ravens and kept its postseason hopes alive.
"The older guys, we keep telling the younger guys about this," Foote said after the Steelers improved to 7-5 and cut the Ravens' four-game lead in the AFC North by half. "They've got to believe, they've got to understand how important these games are to us. We've just got to get a ticket. The last few years, the [New York] Giants have done it, and Green Bay has done it – we've just got to get in."
With two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sidelined for the third straight contest, not many pundits gave Pittsburgh much of a chance against the Ravens. And the Steelers were fully aware of that sentiment.
"The only people that thought we could win were the people in Pittsburgh and the people in this locker room," free safety Ryan Clark said. "Everyone else thought this was a done deal. Today you saw the fight this team has and the will to get it done. We're still alive, but we need some more games like this."
The Steelers win may just be a minor blip on the radar for the Ravens, who are still in the driver's seat for their second division title in as many years. But history has shown that they'd be better off avoiding their AFC North rivals in the playoffs. The Ravens have never beaten Pittsburgh in three postseason meetings.
If the playoffs were to begin this weekend, the Ravens – as the No. 3 seed – would meet the Steelers – the No. 6 seed – in the first round.
So not only did the Ravens miss an opportunity to add even more distance to the gap between themselves and the Steelers, but they breathed new life into Pittsburgh. That development could haunt the Ravens down the road – especially if Roethlisberger returns this season.