“Ouch!” “Ohhhh!” “Wow, that hurt!” “He just got blown up!”
These are just some of the things you will find yourself saying every time the Ravens play the Steelers. With both teams each having one of the best defenses in the league over the last few years, the sounds of the game can be just as scintilating as the game it self. With AFC North standings and playoff implications on the line, the Steelers visiting the Ravens for a Sunday night prime time game with the best rivalry in football, almost guarantees thrills and excitement.
Both teams are somewhat limping into this contest with significant injuries. QB Ben Roethlisberger suffered what appears to be some sort of foot injury in last week’s game against the Buffalo Bills. He was spotted rocking the ankle boot this week in practice, but was taking all the snaps. This injury is the result of their offensive line suffering through injuries to Flozell “Holding, 10 yard penalty” Adams and Max Starks. The shuffling of players has Big Ben doing his fancy footwork in the club on the field routine trying to avoid the pressure. With Ben and his protection on the mend, DC Greg Mattison will have the opportunity to let the Ravens’ front 7 loose on Big Ben. Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson will have to get pressure on Big Ben and put that ankle to the test. Meanwhile, Haloti Ngata and Ray Lewis will get to work on stopping the Steeler’s leading rush man, Rashard Mendenhall.
But if the Ravens are to come out successful on the defensive end, it will be up to Ed Reed and his secondary to keep second year man with the speed to blow by anyone, Mike Wallace. When Wallace catches a dime for a touchdown, the Steelers are 10-1. Averaging 22.0 yards per reception, Wallace is a threat to beat, burn or run over cornerbacks Josh Wilson and Lardarius Webb. With a questionable Dawan Landry, the secondary will be thin to stop the beast that is Wallace if Landry is unable to go on Sunday.
Steelers DC Dick LeBeau is the the master of disguises when it comes to defenses and blitzing. Joe Flacco and his Tubbies on the Line will have to be able to pick up disguises. With his blind side protector Michael Oher coming off a knee injury in the Bucs game last week, Flacco cannot keep with his bad habit of holding on to the ball for hours at a time. The Patriots have given every team a blue print for executing a win over the Steelers, which is the intermediate passing game and the occassional long ball. Despite the presence of Troy Polamalu and his hair, the Steelers rank 22nd in the League against the pass. The Ravens have the passing attack and personnel to have a successful night. And with Ray Rice, the Ravens will pound the ball to set up some long dime opportunities for Flacco and his cohorts.
There is no doubt that both of these teams will bring the pain and lay some folks out. (Get those check books ready fellas because you someone is bound to cut a check for a hit that is deemed illegal). The Ravens and Steelers are almost equal when it comes to stats and rankings, so conventional wisdom gets thrown out the door when predicting a winner. Big Ben has had the Ravens number since coming into the league with a winning record of 7-2 . We know he will play regardless of his new shoe accessory if he could, so there should be no doubt that he will be leading the Steelers come Sunday.
With games decided by 3 points in 3 of their last 5 games, this may come down to a kicking contest. If it does, kicker Billy Cundiff has has the foot to take the Ravens to the top of the AFC North and in contention for a top seed in the playoffs.
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Written by Lea Anderson