Don't expect the Baltimore Ravens to wallow in embarrassment and look for pity just because they should.
No, the Steelers -- no stranger to locker room chaos themselves -- expect nothing but the best from the Ravens tonight, only three days following the release of a video, and then a running back, that enraged a nation of football fans.
"As weird as it sounds," said Cameron Heyward, "you can use it as a positive, because it brings guys closer together, helps them rally around each other. It helps guys focus more. I know it's probably chaotic over there, but you've just got to stay together as a team, focus on the task at hand, and continue to grow."
Wouldn't it be like those dirty Ravens to prosper under such gross circumstances?
After last week's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, these Ravens are in dire need of a home division win tonight, and they have the talent and the scheme to wreak havoc with the porous Steelers defense.
Mike Tomlin pointed out that the Ravens' new offensive coordinator, former Houston Texans Coach Gary Kubiak, is a strong proponent of zone running and misdirection passing, which both stung the Steelers last Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. And the Ravens will do both out of a no-huddle.
"Our two worst games no doubt have been against the hurry-up," Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said of the Browns and Philadelphia Eagles. "We’re going to see it until we handle it."
The Ravens have the skill players for it. Quarterback Joe Flacco now has former Carolina great Steve Smith as a target. The 35-year-old caught seven passes last Sunday for 118 yards. Tight end Dennis Pitta caught 10 passes for 83 yards. Deep threat Torrey Smith caught three passes for 50 yards. Flacco also has another big-play threat, Jacoby Jones, available for 3-WR packages.
However, the group is coming off a poor performance at home against the Bengals with eight drops.
"We had some footing issues on our field," said Ravens Coach John Harbaugh. "I’m not sure why that happened but sometimes that got us a little bit. Actually, we were kind of stumbling, tripping around and slipping a little bit which led to a few of those things. Those are things that we are certainly capable of doing. Execution is a broad term. But catching the ball or staying on our feet is not something that should be a problem. I don’t anticipate that being a problem going forward."
The Ravens also have an improved offensive line this season with the acquisition of center Jeremy Zuttah, but they lack a quality running back -- unless they move Justin Forsett ahead of Bernard Pierce, who gained 14 yards on six carries Sunday.
Defensively, the Ravens have added first-round inside linebacker C.J. Mosley to their starting lineup, but otherwise have made few changes, other than internal promotions. It's a group that will go up against a Steelers offense that has found its identity early.
"We know who we are. That’s a good thing for us," said offensive coordinator Todd Haley. "We are going to go out and be aggressive and get up on the ball a bunch throughout most games when we can with the crew we have right now. We feel comfortable doing that. We are going to worry about us and how we need to play and execute to be the best we can be. And I think we showed some real good signs. We are not all the way there yet but we got a win and can learn from it and move forward against another good defense."
The Browns were the ninth-ranked defense in the league last season, but the Steelers ripped through them for 27 points in the first half and 490 yards overall. The difference this week is that the game's on the road, which may stymie some of the no-huddle approach.
"Being a night game it’s going to be loud," said Ben Roethlisberger. "We’ll have to use a lot of hand signals. We might have to huddle all the time. We might not be able to go no-huddle, so we’ll see."
Is that true? Might the Steelers scrap their no-huddle?
"I will leave some of that to guess work," said Haley, who added that, "It’s an unbelievable rivalry. I told some of the young guys in the room today this is my 20th year in the league and I’ve been a part of some great rivalries, Chicago-Green Bay, Dallas-N.Y. Giants, Dallas-Washington. This one, the others aren’t close. The intensity level of the game in all of the four I’ve been in to this point, it’s a totally different level. It doesn’t matter where it’s being played, whether it’s here or there. The crowd obviously brings a lot to it. That’s an element we have to handle every week that we are on the road. Those can’t be factors in how we play."