As if this rivalry wasn’t heated enough.
Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders added fuel to the fire by mocking retired Ray Lewis’ squirrel dance, as can be seen in the GIF above (mobile users tap “View In Browser”). The future Hall of Fame linebacker already performed the dance at M&T Bank Stadium for the final time in front of Ravens fans at the Ravens’ Super Bowl parade in February.
“It probably wasn't meant to honor the retired linebacker,” wrote Bleacher Report’s Kyle Newport.
Lewis didn’t even pull the beloved Baltimore dance out of retirement when he returned as a Ring of Honor inductee in September.
That didn’t stop Sanders from making the brash move … when the Steelers were still down 13-6.
“Sanders made a bold decision when he celebrated his touchdown,” wrote CBSSports.com’s Will Brinson. “Mocking Ray Lewis in Baltimore when you're losing? That's pretty aggressive.”
Had the Steelers won, “this would be a sick burn,” wrote SB Nation’s Rodger Sherman.
That’s OK. Ravens fans got the satisfaction of the 22-20 victory, which coincidently came after Sanders dropped the game-tying two-point conversion pass in the end zone (video below).
‘No Way’ Tomlin Interfered On Accident
As if this rivalry wasn’t heated enough.
Wait, didn’t I already write that?
Well, it’s an appropriate lead yet again, this time to discuss the Mike Tomlin play.
The Ravens took the high road after the Steelers head coach interfered with
Was it intentional?
According to several third-party onlookers, it was.
“There's no way Tomlin did that accidentally,” tweeted the folks at ProFootballTalk.com. “How does the head coach HAVE HIS BACK TURNED to the action on a kickoff return?”
“Also, either Tomlin A) did that intentionally; B) is officially checked out on his job; or C) has been possessed by the Blair Witch,” added USA Today’s Tom Pelissero.
Here’s another from Brinson: “Man it sure looked like Mike Tomlin tried to trip Jacoby Jones on Thursday night.”
There are more, but you get the idea.
Former NFL vice president of officiating Mike Pereira didn’t make a judgment on whether Tomlin’s move was intentional, but either way he says Tomlin should have been penalized by the official who had to dodge Tomlin to officiate the game.
“No foul was called on the play, but there should have been,” Pereira wrote. “There is no question in my mind that Tomlin should have been penalized. Granted, the official didn't run into him, but he was forced to go to the inside and he was hampering his ability to officiate the play.
“One might make a case that Jones had to move further in on the field to avoid Tomlin, but I think that's a stretch.”
Had the official thrown a flag, he could have awarded the Ravens a touchdown under the NFL rule book's palpably unfair act. But even if he did blow the whistle, Pereira said a touchdown would have been too much because he doesn’t think Tomlin affected ones that much.
“A 15-yard penalty should have been called and added on to the end of the play and I wouldn't be surprised if the league looks at this and considers some discipline,” Pereira wrote. “I'm not 100 percent sure, because I've never been involved with this situation before.
“At the end of the day, my biggest disappointment is that the official didn't buck up and throw the flag. I bet if you ask Jets coach Rex Ryan, he'd share my opinion.”
The Jets got a 15-yard penalty for getting in the way of a ref last week while playing the Ravens, and they didn’t even impede a player.
It didn’t cost Baltimore the win, but the team will pay close attention to how the league reacts as it investigates the play and the Steelers face potential discipline.
Either way, Tomlin isn’t making any new friends in Baltimore, especially after he flashed that devilish grin on the RavensVision boards.
“Tomlin might have entered another stratosphere of being among the most hated in Charm City,” wrote Baltimore Beatdown’s Jason Butt.
Ravens ‘Inching Closer’ To Legit Playoff Contender
They’re not there just yet, but the Ravens are starting to make people believe they are a legit playoff contender.
The defense has played solid all season, the offense is starting to move the ball and special teams is making game-changing plays. Now they just need to polish things off.
“The Ravens have gone from being a 3-5 team at the start of November to a 6-6 team by the end of it. Baltimore took control of the sixth seed and closed to within 1½ games of the Bengals (7-4), who play at San Diego on Sunday,” wrote ESPN’s Jamison Hensley.
“The Ravens need to find their finishing touch if they want to make the playoffs and make noise in the postseason. The defending Super Bowl champions have to finish off drives on offense and finish off teams before the final minute of the game.”
Thursday night’s win pushed the Ravens into the final wild-card spot for the time being, and if they do go on to make a playoff run, “they'll likely look back on this game as the impetus of it,” wrote The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec.
Steelers Done? Will Ravens Still Win Division?
Many people dubbed the Steelers-Ravens showdown an elimination game, and now that the Ravens sealed the victory, two questions are being asked: are the Steelers’ playoff hopes done, and will the Ravens take over the top spot in the division?
In the video below, ESPN’s Tedy Bruschi says he isn’t sure the Steelers will overcome the blow, and believes the Ravens will catch the Bengals.
Report: Pitta To Be Activated vs. Vikings
Not surprisingly, the Ravens didn’t activate tight end
In fact, it was “never their intention,” according to The Sun’s Aaron Wilson.
“The Ravens followed through on their original plan by not activating Pitta from short-term injured reserve hours before Thursday night's game,” Wilson wrote.
The Sun reporter wrote that the team plans to activate Pitta for Week 14’s matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.
“The Ravens want Pitta active by the Vikings game so they can potentially have him play on a limited basis in that game or the following week against the Detroit Lions,” Wilson wrote.
Too Much Turkey, Jacoby?
Jones had to take a brief break from action to, well, throw up on the sideline. Coaches had a front row seat, but I’m not sure why they wanted to watch.
Maybe Mama Jones’ Thanksgiving cooking was a little too good. Ooooorrrrrr …
“#Ravens WR Jacoby Jones goes down hard on his chest. Spits/coughs up some blood/sputum. Should be fine. Not uncommon. NFL is brutal game,” tweeted David J. Chao, MD, a former NFL head team physician.
- @JasonHButt: Rice sure is fired up after a nine-yard run, longest of the night. Trucked Ryan Clark. [Twitter]
- @BaltimoreLuke: We should just replace the term "chippy" with "Ravens-Steelers-like." Not surprising to see pushing and shoving on the first series. [Twitter]
No sign of the Ravens wildcat for this week at least. “With Flacco and his pass catchers in rhythm throughout the evening despite another sluggish run-game performance, the Ravens chose to attack the Steelers through the air with their three-receiver sets, not the two-quarterback scheme they had debuted four days earlier,” wrote Matt Vensel. [The Baltimore Sun]
- After notching his third penalty of the evening … @BaltimoreLuke: At what point do we start calling a false start a "
Michael Oher?" [Twitter]
- @Ravens: FIRST DOWN RAVENS.
Joe Flaccopicks it up with a scramble... Maybe Joe can run the wildcat?! [Twitter]
- After making his 27th straight field goal Thursday night, Hensley wrote: “Tucker for MVP. Kicker
Justin Tuckeris making a strong case to be the Ravens' Most Valuable Player.” [Twitter]
- @TorreySmithWR: I left too many plays on the field...shouldn't have been that close...Great Team Win [Twitter]
- @PMGleason: Under John Harbaugh, #Ravens are now 8-1 in home games played on prime-time TV. [Twitter]
- @PMGleason: 10 of the last 12 Ravens-Steelers games have been decided by 3 points or less, including 9 of the last 10 (and now 5 straight). [Twitter]
- @BaltimoreLuke: Best solution to keep NFL coaches off the field? Those electric shock collars they give dogs. Would at the very least be entertaining. [Twitter]
- Fun! Michelle Tafoya was joined by Thanksgiving night’s MVPs Jones and Tucker. Check it out. [NBC Sports]