Eisenberg: No Such Thing As 'Piling On' In The NFL

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Steelers Reaction to Ravens Domination
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Moments later, after forcing a turnover, they went for it on fourth-and-one at the Pittsburgh 8.

"I thought we could really put the nail in the coffin," Harbaugh said.

The Steelers stopped that one, but the Ravens never stopped trying to pile on. Ahead 32-7 late in the fourth quarter, they forced a seventh Pittsburgh turnover deep in Steeler territory. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron called a pass and Joe Flacco threw for a touchdown.

"I like Cam's personality on that one," Harbaugh said.

A penalty nullified the score and the Ravens settled for three, but their starters remained on the field until the final gun.

Cautious observers might wonder if it was wise of the Ravens to rub their superiority in the Steelers' noses so eagerly, considering the teams will play a rematch in Pittsburgh in less than two months. The Steelers' Hines Ward told Pittsburgh columnist Ron Cook that the defending AFC champions would remember the Ravens' aggressiveness.

"It leaves a taste in your mouth," Ward said. "The two-point conversion, the passing at the end ... we'll remember everything."

Honestly, who cares?

The Steelers will surely be primed for revenge on Nov. 6, but it is the memory of getting physically pounded on Sept. 11 that should motivate them, not the memory of the Ravens going for two.

It is the memory of Jarret Jonson blowing up Ward over the middle and Vonta Leach blowing up everyone in his path that should motivate the Steelers, not the memory of the Ravens trying to tack on a late score.

Running it up can be a sore subject in youth and high school sports, where larger lessons about how to act supposedly are being taught. It can even cause ripples in college sports, although given the multiple scandals suffocating college football, they're hardly innocents.

Regardless, there's no such thing as piling on in the NFL. No such thing as hurting someone's feelings. When Bill Belichick's Patriots ran it up on Joe Gibbs' Redskins a few years ago, Gibbs didn't pout. "It doesn't happen if we play better," he said.

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?John Eisenberg

Bingo. These are adults. Everyone is getting paid. The NFL is cutthroat and competitive, with everyone always looking for any edge they can grab.

When you have a chance to pound your rival's head, you pound.

Years ago in another life, I covered an NBA team with a future Hall of Fame coach. The team had a 20-point lead in Game 1 of a playoff series, and he left his starters in.

"You're up 20 there, you try to win by 40," he said. "You're up 40, you try to win by 50."

Why?

"You want to plant the seed in their heads that they have to play a lot better to beat you," the coach said. "It puts the pressure on them."

That's what the Ravens accomplished Sunday. Coming in, they were the ones under pressure in the wake of their recent losses to the Steelers. But by the end, the Steelers were the ones under pressure in 2011.

By being aggressive, physical and insatiably hungry for everything, including as many points as possible, the Ravens rendered irrelevant everything that had happened before between these teams. That's smart, not dumb.

John Eisenberg covers the Ravens for Comcast SportsNet Baltimore. He worked in the newspaper business for 28 years as a sports columnist, with much of that time coming at the Baltimore Sun. While working for the Sun, Eisenberg spent time covering the Ravens, among other teams and events, including the Super Bowl, Final Four, World Series and Olympics. Eisenberg is also the author of seven sports-themed books.

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