The matchup of the Ravens and Steelers has become what the Colts and Patriots were in the first decade of the 21st century – the best rivalry in the NFL. The Steelers have surprised many with their 3-0 record without the services of Biggon Ben Roethlisberger. But, can the Ravens spoil their early undefeated season and take a win at Heinz Field this Sunday?
While the Steelers have played with an obvious chip on their shoulder and announced to everyone that they are back from their 2009 season hangover, the Ravens have not quite lived up to the hype – yet. The Steelers defense – that is S Head and Shoulders Troy Polomau – is dominating teams by only allowing 33 points and 2 TDs in their 3 games. The Ravens are an oil change, spark plugs and a fan belt away from running smoothly on all cylinders, scoring only 5 touchdowns and 44 points. Doing the math and counting on your fingers and toes, lets you know that this does not bode well for the Birds. Not to mention, the Ravens have lost 4 in a row and have only won 1 game of 10 at Heinz Field. Going home with kethcup stains and no wins on the road is deflating.
This game will come down to who can keep their respective offenses from facing 3rd and longs. Each of the defenses THRIVE on pressuring the QB into making mistakes and Joe Flacco has a propensity to throw pics versus the Steelers mistaking yellow for purple with 6 INTS in the last 4 games against the Steelers. The Raven’s Tubbies on the Line (TOLs) will be charged with keeping their QB upright and out the hands of sack hungry OLB James Harrison. The TOLs will also have to pave the way for Ray Rice. Despite the contusion to his left knee, Rice should see action. Rice easts up yardage like no other back against the Steelers producing 100+ yard games in his last two outings. Meanwhile, Willis McGahee is primed and ready to give some much needed help to the running game. If the running game can get going, Anquan Boldin can make the highlight reel again this week, because the Steelers cannot matchup with him.
An ugly repeat performance by the Ravens D will ensure a great day for Steeler RB Rashard Mendenhall. Best believe Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs are going to show up. Word on the Corner is that Mt. Terrence Cody is finally ready to make his debut. However, missing from the roster is Trevor Pryce, who the The Oz (Ozzie Newsome) put in the vacants earlier this week when he was released. To give some much needed help to the secondary, S Ken Hamlin was signed. The clock is still ticking until Father Time Ed Reed can return.
Maybe this is the week that the Ravens sing “Let’s Put it All Together” by the Stylistics and give a complete performance on both sides of the balll. Maybe Flacco stops seeing Head and Shoulders commercials in his dreams and just puts the ball in Boldin’s hands. And just maybe, the Ravens leave Heinz field without stains of ketchup on their jerseys and 2010 season.
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Written by Lea Anderson