A Special Win, But Ravens Know There's a Long Way to Go


Just when it looked like John Harbaugh was going to break out some coach speak to a question about whether Sunday night's victory in Pittsburgh had any more meaning than your typical win, he couldn't hide his glee.

"I don't know … OK, yes. Yes. Yes, it does," Harbaugh said with a smile and laugh.

Harbaugh talked about the past two years in Pittsburgh, about how the Ravens left their hearts on the field both times in late-game losses. Those defeats had finality, but Baltimore's win Sunday night seem to exorcise some demons hanging over the team.

"In some ways, this can be the end, but it's also the beginning in terms of where we are going from here," Harbaugh said. "So, yeah, it's a pretty special win."

Baltimore survived a punch to the gut that left them tied at halftime after building an early 14-point lead, then dominated the second half defensively and offensively with time of possession.

It ended a three-game losing streak to their arch rivals. It put Baltimore (3-1) tied at the top of the AFC North with Cincinnati and drops the Steelers (1-2-1) to a tie in the bottom of the division with Cleveland.

The Ravens proved a lot on both sides of the ball. The Steelers had just 19 yards rushing, their lowest output at home since 1952, per NFL Network. On offense, the Ravens have now scored at least 20 points in 13-consecutive games dating back to last season, marking the NFL's longest active streak.

"The most balanced teams in this league usually have more success and have a chance to win late in the season, so that's where we're trying to be," safety Eric Weddle said. "This game right here was big. With Cincinnati winning, we had to come in here and continue winning."

But for as happy as the Ravens were about their victory, they weren't about to celebrate too much.

Terrell Suggs, the Ravens' 16th-year linebacker, can be his team's sharpest critic after a loss. After a win, the leader often mutes his excitement, and had a measured tone Sunday night.

"We got our third win of the season, first quarter of the season down, and we played a good game," Suggs said. "It's still a long season. We've started hot the last two years, and then we end up missing the playoffs. It's one game."

The Ravens started 2-0 last year before losing four of their next five. In 2016, the Ravens kicked off the year with three straight wins only to drop the next four. In what looks to be a tough AFC North this season, Baltimore doesn't have much breathing room.

"It's a good division game against a rival," Suggs said. "We know that we are going to see that team again, and we just have to continue to play winning football."

The Ravens have the Cleveland Browns up next, who could be 4-0 just as easily as they are 1-2-1. Their two losses have been by a combined six points and Sunday's defeat in Oakland was the result of some questionable refereeing.

Baltimore is plus-58 in net points through the first quarter of the season, the second-best mark in the NFL behind the Los Angeles Rams. But with three of the next four games on the road (Cleveland, Tennessee, Carolina) and a tough home game against the Saints sandwiched in between, they can expect some close games.

On Monday, Harbaugh opened his press conference by immediately turning the page to the Cleveland Browns. He did revisit Pittsburgh once, saying it was a "big deal" because they all know the road to the AFC North crown often goes through Heinz Field.

But it's not a straight road, and it's one that will go to Cleveland this Sunday for the Ravens' third and final AFC North road test.

"We have to go to Cleveland, and the Cleveland team is playing really well with a rookie quarterback that's playing out of his mind right now and we have to figure out a way to stop those guys and win," Harbaugh said. "In Cleveland, I'm sure the place will be going crazy so, just like this place was going crazy. That'll be our focus, that'll be the way we'll look at it."

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