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Old 11-26-2006, 07:29 AM   #1
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Default Steelers must beat Ravens

Steelers must beat Ravens

By Scott Brown
Sunday, November 26, 2006

Reduced to taking small steps after a miserable start left them at 2-6 and put their season on life support, the Steelers have won on the road and in back-to-back games.
Next on the Steelers' to-do list: beating a quality opponent on the road.

They can pull that off today at M&T Bank Stadium and, in the process, take a big step toward playoff contention.

The team that will either end the Steelers' season or give it new life is a familiar one.

It is a potentially lethal one, too.

The Baltimore Ravens have won four consecutive games to push their record to 8-2 and open what looks to be an insurmountable lead in the AFC North.

Their defense is its usual ball-hawking (and ball-taking) self, and an offense that had been an anchor on Baltimore's fortunes in recent years has been steadied by veteran quarterback Steve McNair.

Thus, the challenge is immense for the Steelers, especially since they haven't won in Baltimore since 2002.

"Nothing is given to us, nothing comes easy, and everything we get as far as a win is going to be hard fought," said Steelers outside linebacker Clark Haggans, who leads the team with 5 1/2 sacks. "If we play well and play the way we're capable of doing and leave it all out on the field, then no one can hang their head low."

Whether that will be enough for the Steelers to beat the Ravens and keep their postseason hopes alive remains to be seen.

McNair and the Ravens offense have hit their stride since coach Brian Billick took over the play calling following the Ravens coach's dismissal of offensive coordinator Jim Fassel.

In their last four games, the Ravens are averaging over 350 yards of total offense -- this after averaging less than 290 through their first six games.

The biggest change since Billick added to his responsibilities has come in the production of Jamal Lewis.

The bruising back has rushed for an average of 79.3 yards in Baltimore's last four games and scored four touchdowns.

Lewis averaged 58.7 rushing yards and ran for just one touchdown during the Ravens' 4-2 start.

The improved running game has opened up the passing game for McNair, wide receivers Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason, and tight end Todd Heap.

"They're spreading the ball around, running the ball efficiently," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said. "They're not turning the ball over. You're not seeing a lot of sacks against them."

Running room could be hard for Lewis to come by as the Steelers haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher since last November.

It doesn't figure to be any easier for Steelers running back Willie Parker, who hasn't been nearly as effective away from Heinz Field and faces a defense that doesn't have any soft spots in it.

Opponents have learned that they throw the ball against the Ravens at their own risk. Baltimore has an NFL-high 18 interceptions, which is one less than Ben Roethlisberger has thrown in seven starts.

"You're going to have to be very patient against this defense because they thrive on taking the ball away, creating field position and scoring touchdowns," Cowher said. "This will be a measuring stick, and we'll find out where we are."

The Steelers are still on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs and cannot afford another loss.

"We have no margin for error," Cowher said.

The one thing they have going for them is that element of desperation.

"We'll get the best of the Steelers and they'll get the best of the Ravens," Billick said. "It will be physical, intense -- like it always is"

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Old 11-26-2006, 10:38 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers must beat Ravens

Correction! Steelers will beat the ratbirds.

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooo Steelers!
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Old 11-26-2006, 11:14 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers must beat Ravens

Every game is a Playoff game for the Steelers in my opinion.. Every game is a Must Win for us to get in the play-offs.. Do I think We Can Win Out? Yes
Do I think we Will? No..
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