Hell's Coming With Them

After losing to the Baltimore Ravens in OT, Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin vowed to 'unleash hell' in December. His players can't wait.

The intention for December, as stated by Mike Tomlin in the wake of one of the most intriguing games of the season and clearly the most frustrating for his Steelers, is to "unleash hell."

Sounds like a plan.

The Ravens did as much on Sunday night at M&T Bank Stadium and look how well things worked out for them.

They emerged from their locker room amid an explosion of smoke and shooting flames, with a pair of electronic Raven eyes blinking ominously from atop the home team's tunnel. They took the field while running past banners urging them to "Play Like a Raven." And the Ravens did so with Rage Against The Machine's "Bulls On Parade" blasting from the stadium's sound system at an ear-splitting decibel level.

It was all so motivational they didn't even need Ray Ray eating the grass and inducing a seizure to beat a Steelers team that was minus Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch, Troy Polamalu, Chris Kemoeatu and Aaron Smith.

At home.

In overtime.

Never has Baltimore been more proud.

For the Steelers, the unleashing of hell will have slightly different specifics, the particulars of which have yet to be worked out among the fellas.

"That means anybody that sees us coming, they better bring their best because that's what we're bringing," Willie Colon said. "I back ‘Coach T' up 100 percent on that."

"We're gonna really bring it," LaMarr Woodley said. "The defense, we're gonna come. And the offense is going to go out there and ring up the scoreboard."

"I don't know what that means," Brett Keisel said. "I hope it means we're aggressive all game long."

Throw "finishing" in there somewhere and these Steelers may yet realize their potential.

The defense couldn't do that -- again -- on Sunday night. But for almost the entire second half the defense was precisely what the Steelers needed it to be.

The defense forced a turnover on Baltimore's initial third-quarter possession, keeping Dennis Dixon in the game and in a comfort zone. The defense dialed up back-to-back sacks to maintain momentum after Jeff Reed's field goal cut the Ravens' lead to 14-10. And the defense took the ball away again with Baltimore threatening to put the game away midway through the fourth quarter, a sack-strip-fumble recovery that positioned the offense to assume the lead the defense ultimately couldn't protect.

This time the Steelers were a fourth-and-5 away from sealing the deal.

What's been missing, other than tighter coverage on a running back by James Farrior?

Polamalu, for starters. When the Steelers can once again unleash Polamalu on opposing offenses, they'll once again be able to play Steelers defense.

It might be as simple as that.

Offensively, Rashard Mendenhall unleashed a little something in Baltimore as well. His 24-carry, 95-yard effort turned out to be a hell of a lot better than Mendenhall managed against Ray Ray and the Ravens a year ago.

The Steelers should be as excited about how hard Mendenhall ran as they are proud of how Dixon acquitted himself in Baltimore.

As for the special teams, the hell that James Harrison brought covering a couple of kickoffs contributed to the Steelers surviving four such plays without any of them ending up in their end zone.

So it was an encouraging night in many respects if not a satisfying one, particularly now that Tomlin has identified the mentality his team will embrace for the stretch run.

At 6-5 the Steelers are apparently mad as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore. And with five regular-season games remaining there's still enough time to do something about it.

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