View Full Version : Pass defense continues to shine

11-02-2011, 10:54 PM
Pass defense continues to shine
The Sports Xchange
Nov. 2, 2011

--Although the NFL has seen more passing through the first half of the season than ever, the Steelers' defense has not seen such proliferation. The No. 1-ranked pass defense in the NFL has not allowed a team to throw more than 257 yards against and has held five of its foes under 200 and one to just 76.

That's nothing unusual, though. Since Mike Tomlin became the head coach in 2007, the Steelers have allowed only 188.6 yards passing against them, fewest in the league during that span.

--The Steelers are 6-2 for the fifth straight season, all under Tomlin.

--The same offensive line will start for Pittsburgh on Sunday that has started the previous three games. Through the first seven games, the Steelers started seven different combinations in their offensive line.

--Hines Ward said he could have played against New England last week despite his sprained ankle, but that he didn't figure the team needed him.

"I probably could have forced it and played, but we have some great wideouts. I wasn't really concerned," he said. "And against the Patriots, we felt we could exploit their secondary. That wasn't the same secondary that we played against year ago without having (James) Sanders, (Brandon) Meriweather wasn't back there, and they let Leigh Bodden go. We kind of liked our matchups. So there was no need for me to try to force it and go."

58-7 -- Score of the two games combined the last time the Ravens swept the Steelers in their season series, 2006. Baltimore won its home game 31-7 and then prevailed 27-0 at Pittsburgh in the next-to-final game of that season and the final game Bill Cowher would coach at Heinz Field.

"I'll be out there, regardless of the situation. I wouldn't miss this for the world." -- Wide receiver Hines Ward, coming off a sprained ankle and his first missed game since 2007, on playing against the Ravens.

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11-02-2011, 10:56 PM
Strategy And Personnel
The Sports Xchange
Nov. 2, 2011

LB Mortty Ivy was signed from the practice squad before last week's game and DE Corbin Bryant was released and subsequently re-signed to the practice squad. Another practice squad change this week: WR Jamar Newsome signed and DT Elisha Joseph released.


--DE Brett Keisel has three sacks in the past three games. His career high for a season is 5.5 sacks in 2006.

--SS Troy Polamalu has four career touchdown returns on defense, two short of the Steelers record set by Rod Woodson and one short of tying for second place.

--WR Emmanuel Sanders was not at practice Wednesday because of the death of his mother. He also has a minor knee injury.

--QB Ben Roethlisberger was selected the AFC Player of the Week. He's passed for 727 yards the past two games, and he would become the first Steeler to have three straight 300-yard games if he does it Sunday.

--FS Ryan Clark has taken over the team tackle lead that was held last week by LB James Farrior and for much of the season by SS Troy Polamalu. Clark has 52 tackles and also one of only two interceptions for the team.


--LOLB LaMarr Woodley has a severe hamstring pull and will not play Sunday against Baltimore. Jason Worilds, who has not played the past four weeks (thigh), is likely to replace him.

--ILB James Farrior has a torn calf muscle, and he will not play. Veteran Larry Foote will replace him.

--ROLB James Harrison, who has missed the past four games with a broken eye socket, may return and start. If so, Lawrence Timmons would move back inside after filling in for Harrison.

--WR Hines Ward was limited in practice Wednesday but said he would play after missing one game with a sprained ankle.

--G Doug Legursky will miss his third straight game with a dislocated big toe.

--T Jonathan Scott, the No. 3 tackle, was limited in practice Wednesday due to an ankle injury.

--NT Chris Hoke, who missed the past two games with a stinger, went through a full practice Wednesday.

The Steelers ran 10 times for 60 yards against Baltimore in the first game of the season. However, they fell behind so far and so quickly they could not continue to run, so had just six carries in the second half for 6 yards. They hope to run it more often this time. On defense, Pittsburgh wants to stop Ray Rice, something it could not do in the opener. How the Steelers do that is still unknown since they may use some different alignments because of all their injuries at linebacker.

Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs, who sacked Ben Roethlisberger three times in the opener, vs. Steelers LT Max Starks, who wasn't on the team for that game.

Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey vs. Ravens DT Halot Ngata or DT Terrence Cody -- Pittsburgh could handle neither in the opener.

Steelers WRs Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown vs. Baltimore CBs Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams -- The Ravens' corners can be beaten, and Wallace and Brown have made a habit of getting open this season.

11-02-2011, 10:57 PM
Steelers insist Ravens won't manhandle them again
The Sports Xchange
Nov. 2, 2011

The AFC North Division title could be on the line Sunday night at Heinz Field, but some of the players who have made Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh such a great rivalry won't be part of it.

The Steelers are listing at linebacker, where three Pro Bowl performers could be sidelined. AFC sack leader LaMarr Woodley and defensive captain James Farrior are out. James Harrison, a four-time All-Pro and 2008 defensive player of the year, could return to play after missing four games with a broken orbital bone.

Nevertheless, the Steelers remain favorites to beat a team that thumped them 35-7 in the season opener.

"I can't see that happening again," nose tackle Casey Hampton said of the result from the teams' first meeting. "If they beat us, they're going to beat us, but it's not going to be an out-tempo thing where they're playing faster and with more intensity, I guarantee you that."

The Steelers turned the ball over seven times on Sept. 11, and the Ravens never gave the ball away. Ben Roethlisberger had five of the turnovers, three interceptions and two fumbles on sacks. Ray Rice ran for 107 of Baltimore's 170 rushing yards, becoming only the second back in 51 regular-season games to do so.

"They just whupped our butt," linebacker Larry Foote said. "When it's 35-7, you can point to this happened, that happened, but the numbers don't lie, they beat us by 28 points, and they took it to us."

Without Woodley and Farrior and possibly Harrison, how would the Steelers do a better job stopping the Ravens, especially their running game? The Steelers say they were caught off-guard that day -- by the noise in Baltimore's stadium and by the chop-blocking tactics the Ravens offensive line used against them, rendering five-time Pro Bowler Hampton virtually useless.

"The chop-blocking and things like that were a little surprising," said Hampton, who said he had not seen that from past Ravens teams. "But I think we're a little more prepared. Me, personally, I'm a lot more prepared than I was the last time."

A victory is almost imperative for the Steelers if they want to win the division. A loss would drop them behind Baltimore in the loss column and give the Ravens the No. 1 tiebreaker with a sweep of the head-to-head series.

"I look at it like we got to win because they're not going to lose if they beat us," Foote said. "We don't want to be in that position of hoping those guys lose for us to win the division. We want to take care of our business."

32nd regular-season meeting. Steelers lead series, 18-13. The series began with the Cleveland Browns' move to Baltimore in 1996. The last game at Heinz Field was a 31-24 Steelers victory in the playoffs Jan. 15. However, the Ravens beat the Steelers in the most recent matchup, Sept. 11 in Baltimore in the season opener, 35-7. The Steelers have won five of the past six games at home vs. Baltimore, counting the playoffs.

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