Steelers-Ravens: the promise of pure American football

We finished Week 7 having clear why we fell in love with the sport. A sport that is capable of turning 10 seconds into 5 minutes, and in that time frame, is capable of changing the fate of the game. A sport that does not allow anyone to make predictions, to feel safe, that does not allow you to breathe until the clock shows the figures 0:00 – and it is not said. As the Lions teach, on a drive of just 1 minute 4 seconds, with zero timeouts available, they scored a TD at the end of the last quarter and, despite a 15-yard penalty, managed to complete the transformational kick to win 23-22. Overtime escaped by a breath.

OT also avoided for the Saints thanks to Marcus Davenport’s sack on Teddy Bridgewater that took the Panthers out of the one-yard field goal range; and for the Steelers, not so much by divine grace but by Gostkowski who, not scoring the 3 points, determines Tennessee’s first loss this season.

And if these extra misses were similar to Seattle-Arizona’s 9 minutes and 40 minutes, then maybe it’s good that the games ended in regular time, sparing us a visit – otherwise certain – from the cardiologist. A game that, when it seemed over, called everything into question between penalties and interceptions that weighed much more than a few yards and a few percentages in statistics for Wilson and his team.

But these are the games that make us dream, which shows us that there are no sports like football. That this sport was born to be spectacular. That although you don’t cheer for any team on the field, despite not being a final or a divisional game, despite being in the middle of the regular season, you go to sleep with your heartbeat that is still in tachycardia. With his breath breathed and his throat dry as he screamed to hold that ball or block that player. With clothes stuck on for anxiety and excitement – and maybe also because exulting we spilled what we were drinking.

Ideally, this is what every fan would like to experience every weekend, from mid-September to early February.

Week 8 opens with a Thursday Night not exciting but surprising in the sense that it sees the Falcons take home their second win, against the Panthers who, compared to the previous week, were almost unrecognizable. Watching the other matches, Sunday’s Ravens-Steelers clash, he begins to feel the adrenaline-pumping taste on his tongue.

Leaving aside the historic rivalry between the two franchises, both teams will enter the field with more to prove than AFC North Division dominance: Pittsburgh wants to maintain its record as the only undefeated team, and the Ravens – who only come out losers from Week 3 against the Chiefs – not only want to stop the winning streak of ‘Big Ben’ but want to prove that Baltimore’s best defense is.

The Steelers arrive at M&T Bank Stadium with the defense granting the fewest yards per game, while the Ravens welcome guests by fielding the defense that concedes the fewest points. According to cornerback Jimmy Smith, with the Ravens since 2011 – the year he was selected with the 27th draft pick- ‘In these games, the defense has always been decisive. You know who their quarterback is and you know what their offense is capable of doing. But these matches result in heavyweight fights that are ultimately determined by the defense that plays best.’