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mesaSteeler
10-03-2010, 12:04 AM
Game 4 Matchup: Steelers vs. Ravens
Gerry Dulac breaks down the AFC North showdown
Sunday, October 03, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

GAME PLAN

When the Ravens have the ball: QB Joe Flacco has struggled against the Steelers' defense, throwing six INTs and only three TDs in the past four games against them. After throwing four INTs in Week 2 against the Bengals, he came back with three TD passes in last week's victory against the Browns. It is not known how effective RB Ray Rice (knee contusion) will be, but he has practiced and is expected to play. Rice had 229 yards rushing and 81 yards receiving in two games against the Steelers last season and is the only back in the past 37 games to rush for more than 100 yards against them. The Steelers' defense leads the league in points allowed (33) and takeaways (10) after three games.

When the Steelers have the ball: QB Charlie Batch will start his second game in a row. Batch, though, does not have to worry about Pro Bowl S Ed Reed (hip), who is on the physically unable to perform list. Without Reed, who leads all active players in interceptions (46) since 2002, the Ravens do not have an interception in three games. They will have to make sure they don't let WR Mike Wallace, who has catches of 52, 46 and 41, get behind them. The Ravens' defense is ranked No. 1 overall in the league, but was uncharacteristically leaky against the Browns, especially against the run when they allowed RB Peyton Hillis to rush for 144 yards on 22 carries. They will have to tighten up against RB Rashard Mendenhall, who is third in the AFC with 332 yards rushing and has three runs of 20 yards or longer.

Game: Steelers (3-0) vs. Baltimore Ravens (2-1), Heinz Field.

When: 1 p.m.

TV: KDKA.

Radio: WDVE-FM (102.5), WBGG-AM (970) and the Steelers Radio Network.

Favored: Steelers by 1 1/2.
KEEP AN EYE ON ...

WR Anquan Boldin ... He had three touchdown catches against the Browns, emerging as the type of big-play receiver the Ravens were hoping to provide for QB Joe Flacco. Boldin is a strong, physical receiver who runs well after the catch, making him a good matchup for physical CBs Bryant McFadden and Ike Taylor. They have done a good job of not letting receivers get behind them.
INTANGIBLES

The Steelers have won four in a row and nine of the past 10 against the Ravens at Heinz Field. However, that doesn't accurately reflect the competitive closeness of the teams. The last six games -- two of which were overtime -- have been decided by a total of 28 points. The Steelers' regular-season home record of 58-22-1 is the league's fourth-best since 2000.
Keys to victory ...

To win, the Ravens must ...

1 Keep Flacco from TOs. He has six interceptions and three lost fumbles in five career games against the Steelers.

2 Heed the speed. Without Ed Reed, the Steelers will test the middle of the field with deep throws to Wallace, who averages 26.7 yards per catch.

3 Latch on to Batch. He does a good job of stepping up in the pocket, forcing the Ravens to get an inside rush to push him outside his protection.

To win, the Steelers must ...

1 Dice Rice. They have already held Michael Turner, Chris Johnson and Cadillac Williams to a combined 89 yards on 41 carries in three games.

2 Be Raven-ous on the ground. The Steelers have not had a 100-yard rusher against the Ravens since Jerome Bettis in December 2004, a span of 11 games.

3 Be bold with Anquan. McFadden has done a good job not letting the play get behind him, something that plagued the secondary a year ago.
Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com.


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