BALTIMORE – How bad is bad?
In terms of the statistical, there were the seven turnovers, the 5.5 yards per carry rushing average allowed, a points scored to turnover ratio of 1:1, the 44 percent conversion rate on third downs allowed, the respective passer ratings of 117.6 to 52.9. Or hey, let's quit trying to get too creative and get right down to it – there was 35-7.
In terms of the physical, there was no hard evidence but rather the real sense that as the game wore on the Steelers were doing way too much of the receiving and not enough of the giving.
In terms of the historical, it was the second-worst loss in an opener in franchise history, with the bottom having been reached in 1997 when Troy Aikman brought the Dallas Cowboys to Three Rivers Stadium and laid a 37-7 horse-whipping on the home team. And remember that when the subject is the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise, second-worst represents the complete 78-season sampling.
In terms of the emotional, while there is no danger that this loss to the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium is going to cripple the Steelers' confidence and ruin them for the rest of this 2011 NFL season, there is a sting that comes with a butt-kicking from a hated rival, and what happened here certainly qualifies as that.
* * * *
The Ravens are like the Steelers in that both are stable organizations believing in utilizing the draft primarily as a means of player acquisition. That lends itself to a higher-than-average amount of roster stability. So it's a good bet that there are a bunch of players in purple this year who were in purple the night Troy Polamalu's interception return for a touchdown sent the Steelers to Super Bowl XLIII, and even more of them were in purple at Heinz Field just this past January when their 21-7 halftime lead melted into a 34-27 ticket home from the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Ravens Coach John Harbaugh was there for both of them, and it sure looked like he was trying to even things up in one fell swoop.
* * * *
Hey, it's professional football and there's no such thing as running up the score, so there's no complaining from the Steelers' sideline allowed and there wasn't any. For whatever reason, be it building his team's confidence or rubbing the Steelers' noses in it, Harbaugh was well within his rights.
Want to know how bad is bad? He was able to do both.
* * * *
Read the rest of this column in its entirety in the current issue of Steelers Digest. To subscribe, call 1-800-334-4005, or visit: http://www.steelers.com/news/digest.html