If someone had told you a month ago that the Steelers would start the 2010 season 3-0 without Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, how many of you would have believed them?
I wouldn't have. Most national media pundits wouldn't have. Many Steelers fans might not even have bought that talk.
But Ravens head coach John Harbaugh insists Pittsburgh's Roethlisberger-less strong start doesn't surprise him.
"You asked me last summer what I thought about the Steelers without Ben Roethlisberger," Harbaugh said yesterday at his afternoon press conference. "Does anybody remember? None of you wrote it. What did I say? You don't even remember, do you? I said they're going to be a very good football team no matter who is playing quarterback, and that's turned out to be true, right?
"So listen: This is a darn good football team. They have a great defense. They have a great running game. They have dangerous wide receivers. Their special teams are much improved. We're not surprised they're 3-0, but we don't care. We're going to play the game."
With Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch at quarterback in place of the suspended Roethlisberger, the Steelers have gotten off to a fast start, with wins over the Falcons, Titans and Buccaneers. Those teams aren't exactly cupcakes; they're a combined 6-3 so far, with all three of those losses obviously coming against Pittsburgh.
The Ravens would never look past their top division rivals, regardless of record, but Harbaugh was asked yesterday if the Steelers' perfect start will ensure that the Ravens don't overlook their opponent, who will be playing without its Pro Bowl quarterback.
"We don't care," said Harbaugh, who bristled at the suggestion. "It doesn't make any difference to us."
As is usually the case, the Steelers have been carried by their defense, which has allowed an average of just 11 points per game this season and has forced 10 turnovers through three contests.
Dixon (who is currently out with a knee injury) and Batch have held their own under center, and despite last Sunday marking his first start in nearly three years, Batch threw three touchdown passes and posted a 106.5 quarterback rating.
The Ravens will head into Heinz Field knowing that a loss will set them two games behind Pittsburgh with Roethlisberger set to return from his suspension the following week.
Yeah, it would be fair to say this is a pretty big matchup for Week 4.
"We know exactly what it's going to be like," Harbaugh said. "It's going to be tough, it's going to be loud, but it's exciting. That's what you get in the NFL for as a coach or a player. We can't wait to be a part of it, you know?