On September 11th, the beginning of the 2011 NFL season, the Baltimore Ravens played host to the Pittsburgh Steelers. What ensued was out of the norm for the most ferocious rivalry in today’s NFL. The Ravens racked up 385 yards against the Steelers vaunted defense; Ray Lewis and company forced seven turnovers, recorded four sacks, and nearly shut out the defending AFC Champions: 35-7.
It’s no secret the Steelers want to avenge that loss Sunday night. The Ravens know who they’re playing and can’t wait for the whistle to blow.
On Sunday Night Football’s national stage the rivalry will once again heat up. Pittsburgh has won six of the last ten meetings, two of which were in the playoffs. The Ravens know in order to accomplish their goal of winning a Super Bowl, they’ll have to go through Pittsburgh to do it.
On paper the teams match up remarkably well. Baltimore has the #1 Ranked Defense (263.3 ypg) while the Steelers are #2 (270.8 ypg). Offensively the Ravens are 14th in overall offense (341.8 ypg) and the Steelers are 9th (388.8 ypg.). We all know the numbers, the players, the coaches, and the history; what’s hardest to predict is how the game will unfold.
Pittsburgh QB Ben Rothlisberger is 7-1 all-time at home against the Ravens. The Steelers are on a four-game winning streak and are coming off a big win over the Patriots. The Ravens haven’t been quite as sharp of late, losing 12-7 on Monday night to the Jaguars, then needing the biggest comeback in franchise history to narrowly beat the one-win Cardinals last Sunday at home.
It would appear one team is trending up, while the other down, but in this rivalry the numbers don’t matter, it’s how you play the game.
“The whistle has to be blown Sunday night, and they know what we bring and we know what they bring, so here we go…” Ravens LB Ray Lewis said Wednesday.
What to Watch For
Joe Flacco/Cam Cameron vs. Steelers D: A lot has been said recently about Joe Flacco’s terribly inconsistent play. Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron should be in the hot seat right next to the young QB. Sunday night they’ll both have to be sharp as they try to crack the Steelers D. If the Ravens offense plays like the did in the first half last week, they’re doomed.
Ravens #1 D vs. Big Ben: Since the Week 1 loss to the Ravens Big Ben has been playing great football. Last week against the Patriots, Ben threw for 365 yards and 2 scores. The Ravens D has been great but Ben has been on fire. Big Ben at home has given the birds trouble in years past.
Run Ray, Run: There’s no question who needs the most touches in Ravens offense. Ray Rice is their go-to guy. Against the Steelers big plays down the field to Boldin and Smith won’t be prevalent. If the Ravens are going to stay in the game it’ll be on Ray’s legs. The Steeler are 8th (99.1 ypg.) in the league in rushing defense, the Ravens 19th (107.0 ypg) in rushing offense.
Riding a winning streak, at home in the spotlight, Big Ben and the Steelers will be too much for the Ravens in a close game.
Prediction: Ravens 20-Steelers 24
About the Author
Written by Frank Sullivan
Frank is a graduate of Old Dominion University, sports fan, author, and founder of TheBloosh.com. He's been working with prosportsblogging.com since April 2011, and has covered the Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Ravens, Virginia Tech Hokies Football, and the Washington Wizards. Frank can be reached @franksullivan on twitter.