The Steeler’s game against the Baltimore Ravens was one of the most anticipated matchups of the 2017 NFL season. The Ravens looked to avenge their only loss of the season while the Steelers looked to keep their playoff hopes alive. The underdogs came through with a huge upset, knocking the defending NFC champions out of the playoffs.
Prior to the game, oddsmakers had released betting lines on the game. It was the first meeting between these two division rivals, and many sportsbooks posted an interesting fact about this season’s matchup: the Steelers were a +175 betting-favorite to win the game, while the Ravens were listed at +275. Get all the latest NFL playoff odds and you’ll see that many places were offering 5-1 odds on the Steelers to win the game, while it was almost 6-1 against the Ravens. Was this a sign of what was to come?
An Injury To One Of The Biggest Players
One of the main storylines heading into the Steelers’ game against the Baltimore was how Ben Roethlisberger would perform without his top receiver, Antonio Brown. Brown was limited in the pre-season due to a contract dispute, and it was unclear if he’d even play in the game. However, a few hours before kickoff, Brown was spotted by reporters at the stadium and he revealed that he was going to play after all. Brown ended up being one of the few bright spots for Pittsburgh in the game, as he finished with seven catches for 107 yards and a touchdown, but unfortunately for the Steelers, it was not enough.
An Uncomfortable Feeling For The Ravens
You might be used to seeing Joe Flacco lead the Baltimore Ravens to championships, but this season was a bit different. This was the first time in a while that Baltimore hadn’t brought home the Lombardi Trophy, as they lost their first game to the Pittsburgh Steelers by a score of 30-27. It was a poor showing from the city of Baltimore and head coach John Harbaugh, who was already on thin ice with the team’s fan base after another disappointing season, didn’t help matters by doing this:
“I’m not happy about it,” Harbaugh said after the game. “I’m not happy about it one bit. It’s an uncomfortable feeling when you lose a game this way, especially when you think you have a championship caliber football team.”
Who Would You Put Money On To Score First?
Although the Steelers won the betting odds for this game, many would’ve bet the opposite. In the end, it was the offense which scored the most points, as the Steelers finished the game with 336, while the Ravens only managed 182. Not one, but two first-quarter touchdowns by the Big Ben led the way for Pittsburgh, who outscored the Ravens 40-7 in the first quarter and 27-7 in the second quarter. There were no touchdowns scored in the third quarter, so at the end of the day, this one was a defensive struggle and you’d have to go all the way back to the first quarter to find the one scoring play. This was a game that lived up to the billing and it was the Steelers’ defense and special teams which stepped up when it mattered most. The Steelers offense was good, but it wasn’t good enough to overcome a subpar performance from Flacco, who completed only 17 of his 39 passes for 175 yards and an interception.
Too Much Penance For Flacco
It’s rare for a quarterback to have a poor performance and lose a game by only one score. Usually, teams will rack up a few close calls or wins in regulation which then lead to a one or two touchdown epic in overtime. However, in this case, it was the offense’s inability to generate any sort of consistent drive along with bad luck which cost the Ravens the game. On the first possession of the game, the Ravens got a first down on the Pittsburgh 43-yard line before a questionable roughing the kicker penalty on the next play negated the first down.
Later in the first quarter, the Steelers would get a first down on the Baltimore 11-yard line, but the drive stalled out after a few yards and then Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted by Jimmy Smith deep in Baltimore territory. The turnover helped set the stage for the game’s first touchdown and it was a 14-0 Steelers lead at the end of the first quarter.
Although the Ravens scored two late touchdowns, it was not enough to overcome a dominant first half from the Steelers. Roethlisberger was able to avoid serious injury at the end of the first half and it was unclear if he’d be able to play the rest of the game, as he was listed as questionable on the pre-game injury report. A shoulder injury sidelined Big Ben for the majority of the second half, so he was unable to throw the ball deep or stretch the defense. Without their star quarterback, the odds of the Steelers winning this game increased.
An Early Lead For The Underdogs
The Steelers defense may not have been at full strength, but they still managed to get the best of the Baltimore offense and held the Ravens to only one touchdown, which Tim Browne of the Baltimore Sundescribed as a “stunning defensive performance.” The underdogs took an early lead and never looked back, as they went on to win the game by a score of 24-7. While these odds might seem far-fetched at first glance, the fact is that the Steelers were a surprising +175 underdogs and many books didn’t have them winning the game by more than a field goal.
Odds And Ends
There were several other trends which pointed to a Big Ben inspired rout. First, check out these amazing odds given at the Westchester Bookmaker for Sunday’s game:
Second, the Steelers were actually +225 in Friday’s odds to win the Super Bowl, according to SBG Global. Third, the Steelers were the clear-cut 3-1 favorites to win the Super Bowl, according to OddsShark. Fourth, the Steelers were a perfect 3-0 against the spread in the NFL this year. Lastly, check out this week’s top NFL betting scandals involving teams in the AFC North:
- Steelers (+175) over Ravens
- Jacksonville Jaguars (+320) over Tennessee Titans
- Cincinnati Bengals (+450) over Baltimore Ravens
- Pittsburgh Steelers (+175) over Cleveland Browns
- Indianapolis Colts (+350) over Baltimore Ravens
- Cleveland Browns (+500) over Pittsburgh Steelers
- Raiders (+350) over Kansas City Chiefs
- Bears (+325) over Minnesota Vikings
- Jets (+330) over Miami Dolphins
- Titans (+350) over Jacksonville Jaguars
- Chargers (+475) over Oakland Raiders
- Buccaneers (+375) over New England Patriots
- Seahawks (+275) over Los Angeles Rams
- Colts (+325) over Buffalo Bills
There’s no question that the Steelers were a super-sized underdog to start the season, but it didn’t take long for them to prove everyone else wrong. Although they’ll miss the playoffs once again, this season could’ve been a turning point for the franchise. If they can keep up this level of play, then maybe management will listen to the fan base and give them their star quarterback back.