Week 5 in the NFL will see the renewal of a vintage AFC North rivalry when the Baltimore Ravens visit the Pittsburgh Steelers — and once again, Ravens coach John Harbaugh and his Steelers counterpart Mike Tomlin will go toe-to-toe.
Sunday’s game at Acrisure Stadium will be the 34th meeting between Harbaugh and Tomlin since the Ravens hired the former in 2008. It is a matchup that has only one equal in the NFL‘s long history — and this installment is of vital importance for both teams, especially the struggling Steelers.
Longevity and stability
The Steelers hired Tomlin in 2007 — only their third head coach since 1969. Within two seasons, Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had guided Pittsburgh to its sixth Super Bowl championship, and they returned to the game in 2010, when they lost to the Green Bay Packers.
Although Pittsburgh has yet to return to the NFL‘s championship game, Tomlin remains in charge as the second-longest tenured coach in the league. Tomlin’s 165 wins are third among active coaches, and he has led Pittsburgh to seven AFC North titles.
Harbaugh, hired by Baltimore before the 2008 season, led the Ravens to victory in Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. Harbaugh achieved his 150th career regular-season win in Week 4 when Baltimore beat the Cleveland Browns, and he’ll be looking to improve his all-time record against Tomlin’s Steelers to 16-18. This 34th matchup between the two coaches trails only the 49 meetings between George Halas of the Bears and Curly Lambeau of the Packers, played between 1921 and 1953.
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Inflection point for Pittsburgh
Sunday’s game could give observers an indication as to whether the Tomlin era in Pittsburgh will soon come to an end. A loss would drop the Steelers to 2-3 — and fans are already seething at offensive coordinator Matt Canada‘s inability to get the most out of quarterback Kenny Pickett or wide receiver George Pickens.
Of course, if Lamar Jackson is making throws like this one, the Steelers might not stand much of a chance.
The Ravens will solidify themselves as the team to beat in the AFC North if they can improve to 4-1. They would have already beaten each of the other three teams in the division, with Jackson showing more than just glimpses of his former MVP form.