Watch: Suggs Enters Field In Gladiator Mask
How do you take the already fierce Ravens-Steelers rivalry to the next level?
Turn M&T Bank Stadium into the Roman Colosseum, of course.
That's what Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs did when he came out of the tunnel fog for game introductions wearing a silver Gladiator mask. The crowd of 71,181 fans erupted when he entered with the head gear, orchestrating shooting flames in the background and "If I Can't" by 50 Cent blasting out of stadium speakers.
"Yes, you read that correctly," tweeted WNST's Luke Jones.
Images were an instant viral hit, soliciting great comments like this one for former Ravens wide receiver Qadry Ismael, quoting lines from the movie "Gladiator" starring Russell Crowe.
"Suggs seemed to have the right mindset for this one tonight..." wrote CSNBaltimore.com's Brent Harris.
That was the idea.
Coming off an AFC North loss at home last week to the Cincinnati Bengals and the Ray Rice controversy, the Ravens needed to get off to a fast start with intensity.
"I just thought that we needed a boost," Suggs told reporters. "I couldn't afford to start slow. I just wanted to get the crowd and my team in there early."
Turns out, the Ravens defense ended its first series with a fumble-inducing hit to create a turnover. And the offense, who has started games slow in the past, matched the energy and drove 56 yards on 11 plays for a touchdown.
So, was it because of the gladiator entrance?
"I think so," said Suggs. "We came out pretty fired up."
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Ngata's Chest Bump With Harbs? Or Mid-Air Shove To Harbs?
Haloti Ngata is crazy athletic for a 340-pounder. Certainly athletic enough to do THIS:
Ngata actually tipped a Ben Roethlisberger pass up in the air to himself, made a BIG-MAN diving catch to intercept it and then got back up and returned it 13 yards.
So if he's so gifted, why can't Ngata perform a simple chest bump with his coach to celebrate?
Head Coach John Harbaugh and his defensive tackle jumped in the air together, but while airborne, Ngata pulled back and instead stuck out his arms and nearly pushed Harbs to the ground.
"I did not fall down," Harbaugh said, causing laughter among reporters. "I kept my balance. I flew, but I kept my balance. A lesser athlete would have been on the ground. I want to make sure we all understand that. He's a big man."
Ngata added his own explanation when talking to reporters after the game.
"I didn't completely knock him over – I just pushed him," he said.
Longer after the game, Ngata saw Vine videos of the failed chest bump all over Twitter, where he offered an apology.
"Wanted to say watch out when I'm hyped haha. I need to do a better job at chest bumps," he wrote. "My bad coach … lol."
For those counting at home, that is the second botched chest bump for Harbs. Remember when he whiffed on one with former Raven James Ihedigbo? The good thing is that he's always cool enough to have a sense of humor about it.
Week 2 Will Be Looked Back On As Defining Moment
Considering all the controversy swirling in Owings Mills, Md., this week after running back Ray Rice was released, it's rather remarkable that the Ravens could stay laser-focused on the task at hand: beating the Steelers.
Want to know how they did it?
"The players simply understood the alternative of not being focused," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "The Ravens couldn't start the season 0-2 with home losses to division opponents. Since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, no team has been able to reach the playoffs after such a start."
The outside perception was the Ravens would surely allow the emotions and distractions to get to them, and Pittsburgh would pounce. Instead the Ravens went into a "football cocoon" as Harbaugh described it.
"The Ravens were the more motivated team. They were the more desperate team. They were the more focused team," Hensley wrote. "In many ways, the three hours at M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday were the easiest part of an emotional week. It allowed them to get back to what they do best. … As a result, the Ravens were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief."
At the end of the season, when all 16 games are in the books, The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston believes we will look back at this victory as a moment that shaped this 2014 Ravens squad.
"The season has many defining moments for a team and the Ravens had one against the Steelers," he wrote. "If they had lost a second straight home [game] against a divisional rival, they would have dug a deep hole. Instead, they played hard from start to finish and wore down Pittsburgh.
"It was a gutsy effort."
Flacco, Daniels Are Two TOUGH Dudes
Quarterback Joe Flacco and new tight end Owen Daniels connected on a pair of 2-yard touchdowns that were major factors in a large margin of victory, 26-6. Without those two scores, Thursday night's game has a drastically different makeup.
As impressive as the two touchdown catches were, it was the HITS they absorbed that garnered mad respect from onlookers.
Flacco took a hard blow to the head at the goal line when the Ravens called a quarterback sneak on third-and-1. He actually broke the plane and scored, but it was nullified by a false start (by Daniels). So he didn't get the six points, but he got respect for his toughness.
And Daniels garnered the respect of his quarterback after holding onto two balls over the middle of the field on back-to-back plays, despite getting drilled by Steelers defenders. But the hits only seemed to fuel Daniels, and after the second he jumped back up and started pounding his chest and screaming to the crowd.
"Owen made some tough catches over the middle for me where he got popped, and he held onto the ball and got up fired up," Flacco said.
It's rather shocking considering the concern surrounding Daniels after he was held out of the preseason for nearly two weeks because of fatigued legs.
"Amazing that for much of training camp, Daniels didn't look like a player who could help Ravens much," tweeted The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. "Been huge first two weeks for them."
Upshaw Decleats Roethlisberger … Penalty Warranted?
There's a reason why he's called "Big Ben."
It's because he's big (see how I did that?).
"Roethlisberger is bigger than most NFL defensive ends, so if you're going to tackle him, you better bring the pain," wrote blacksportsonline.com's Glenn Erby.
Upshaw lowered the boom on Roethlisberger, knocking him off his feet on the first series of the game to notch a sack. But it was nullified by a roughing the passer penalty. Harbaugh was asked after the game whether the flag was warranted, but he wanted to reserve judgment until he watched the film.
There were various reactions online:
And Upshaw retweeted this after the game:
Sometimes you have to tip your hat to Suggs when you see Elvis Dumervil notch sacks because opposing offensive lines pay a lot of attention to the six-time Pro Bowler. It frees up Dumervil.
But when Dumervil notched his second takedown of Big Ben last night, you have to give Dumervil his props. The guy simply BULL RUSHED Steelers offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert, knocking him to the ground and then running over him to get to Roethlisberger.
"Should be credited with two sacks on that one," tweeted Hensley.
"Marcus Gilbert had some 'issues' trying to block Elvis Dumervil on that play, didn't he?" added WNST's Luke Jones.
- Bart Scott: Joe Flacco is 'more elite than Matt Ryan ... write that down' [CBSSports.com]
- When Steve Smith Sr. first came to the Ravens, he humbly and repeatedly said he understood that he was not the No. 1 receiver. That designation belonged to Torrey Smith. But Smith Sr. is the leading receiver after two games, and NFL Media's Deion Sanders discusses why the elder Smith is the top guy.
- Just prior to kickoff, CBS Host James Brown delivered a powerful monologue on the NFL community and violence against women.