The last time a Ravens rookie head coach took his team to Pittsburgh, it worked out very well for Brian Billick.
It was Dec. 12, 1999, and the 31-24 victory over the Steelers had Billick talking playoffs, even though it raised his team's record to only 6-7. It was the first time since the Ravens moved to Baltimore in 1996 that the team was positioned to reach .500 in December: "We have progressed from training camp from talking about being a .500 team to where we're at now. Now, it's time to raise the bar just a little bit for everybody."
WHAT HAPPENED: Big plays, big plays, big plays. Despite completing just of eight of 26 passes for 268 yards, Ravens quarterback Tony Banks threw for three touchdowns, the last to wide receiver Qadry Ismail covering 76 yards and giving the Ravens a 31-17 lead with 3:19 left in the third quarter.
The Ravens' defense was abused all day by Steelers quarterback Mike Tomczak (22 of 41 for 249 yards and two touchdowns) but held when it counted. The Ravens recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock thanks to a 28-yard run by Priest Holmes and the Steelers being out of timeouts.
It was the organization's first victory against the Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium since 1989, dating to its days as the Cleveland Browns.
KEY STATS: Ismail set a team record with 258 receiving yards, at the time 11th best all time in the NFL. He caught touchdown passes of 54, 59 and 76 yards. ... Pittsburgh had beaten the Ravens five straight times, and the Ravens had never won in Pittsburgh. ... The Steelers had 21 first downs to 12 for the Ravens. ... Holmes, filling in for an injured Errict Rhett, rushed 18 times for 130 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown on the Ravens' first series.
QUOTABLE: "This organization, this group of guys, this team, this city, has never played a game in December in the last four years that could bring you to .500, that could have playoff ramifications. Now, whether we get there or not, I don't know. But like I told the guys in there, you're not going to find out until you get to 9-7. Then we'll see. Someone will come and tell us if we're in the playoffs or not." - Billick.
Source: Baltimore Sun archivesCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times