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Fans weren’t alone in their shock after seeing the defending AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers fall in the wild-card round Sunday night in Denver.
Minutes after the Broncos’ overtime win, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs tweeted, “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Head Coach John Harbaugh said he had the same reaction.
Defensive end Cory Redding, who says he was trying to remain emotionally unattached, jumped off the couch.
But their reaction went beyond that. The Broncos’ upset victory is a game the Ravens are learning from.
Like the Steelers did in Denver, the Ravens will enter Sunday’s game at M&T Bank Stadium favored against the Houston Texans. They don’t want to suffer the same fate.
“It gives us motivation,” guard Ben Grubbs said. “We’ve got to learn from their game because I think we’re in the same position as far as being a higher seed and all, but the outcome was a lot different. We can’t let an upset like that happen.”
The Steelers actually weren’t the higher seed on Sunday. They were the No. 5 while the Broncos were the No. 4. But numerous pundits predicted a Pittsburgh win.
Instead, the Steelers fell behind by two touchdowns at halftime and lost on the first play in overtime, an 80-yard pass from quarterback Tim Tebow to Demaryius Thomas.
“It’s letting us know we’ve got to go out there and let everything hang out,” Redding said. “You can’t go out there and play cautious.”
All four of Baltimore’s losses this year have come in games where they were favored – in Tennessee, Jacksonville, Seattle and San Diego. The Ravens did polish off Arizona, Indianapolis and Cleveland at home this year, however.
With the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals losing in the wild-card round, Baltimore is the lone remaining AFC North representative. It also ensures a clean sweep of the division since the Ravens can’t face them in the playoffs.
Grubbs and defensive tackle Arthur Jones were happy to see the Steelers exit the playoffs.
“It was priceless to see the look on their faces,” Grubbs said of the Steelers. “I’m sure they went into that game expecting to win, but the outcome was a lot different.”
“I’m kind of excited they lost,” Jones added. “I didn’t want to play them three times. I wanted to play someone new. We’ve seen that helmet so many times. There’s 30 different teams; why not someone different?”