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Old 12-14-2008, 04:56 AM   #1
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Default Game 14 Matchup: Steelers vs. Ravens

Game 14 Matchup: Steelers vs. Ravens
Sunday, December 14, 2008
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Game plan

When the Steelers have the ball: The Steelers have never had much success running the ball against the Ravens, so look for them to continue to use more of their spread offense with Mewelde Moore. Willie Parker has never had more than 63 yards rushing against the Ravens and the Steelers haven't rushed for more than 100 against them since October 2005. The Ravens will give the Steelers a lot of different looks out of their 3-4 defense, sometimes lining OLB Terrell Suggs as a down lineman. But MLB Ray Lewis is still very active, leading the team with 134 tackles (73 solo), and he has also been dropping into coverage.

When the Ravens have the ball: QB Joe Flacco impressed the Steelers with his calm and poise in the first meeting -- his first NFL game on the road. He was sacked five times, but he didn't throw an interception and was 3 for 3 for 50 yards on the touchdown drive that forced overtime. WR Derrick Mason had eight catches for 137 yards in that game -- the most receiving yards by an opposing player this season -- and leads the team in catches (65), yards (871) and TDs (4). The Ravens, though, like to keep the pressure off Flacco by running the ball with Le'Ron McClain, Willis McGahee and rookie Ray Rice, who have helped them average 144 yards rushing a game, fifth best in the NFL. They will sometimes use an unbalanced line by bringing two extra tackles to the left side and running behind FB Lorenzo Neal.

Keep an eye on ...
NT Haloti Ngata: One of the reasons the Ravens haven't allowed the Steelers to rush for more than 100 yards in a game in three years is because of Ngata (pronounced na-TA). LB Ray Lewis called him a "phenomenon" who "destroys offenses." Ngata leads the defensive linemen with 64 tackles, 15 quarterback hits, one sack and two interceptions. But the Ravens also use the 6-foot-4, 345-pound Ngata as a lead blocker in their goal-line offense, something the Steelers should consider.

The Steelers haven't won in Baltimore since 2002, but they have won four in a row, are 5-1 on the road, have not lost an AFC North Division game (4-0) and have the second-best conference record (8-1) in the AFC. What's more, they can clinch the division championship and first-round bye with a victory. The Ravens have won six of their past seven games and are 5-1 at home, but they lost the first meeting, 23-20, in overtime in Heinz Field.

Keys to victory
To win, the Ravens must ...

1. Have Flacco be no ordinary Joe. Biggest chore is protect the ball. Steelers have forced eight turnovers from QBs the past two games.

2. Not toy with Troy. Polamalu has an INT in each of his past four games for a defense that has 13 takeaways in that same span.

3. Ward off the pass. Hines Ward has caught just one pass in two of the past three games, but has 75 career catches vs. the Ravens.

To win, the Steelers must ...

1. Chain McClain. The Steelers lead the NFL in rush defense, but Le'Ron McClain had 63 yards in Game 1 -- the most by a back until last week.

2. Get on a Rolle. If the Steelers are unable to run, they will have to create space by attacking CBs Samari Rolle and Fabian Washington.

3. Take heed of Reed. Roethlisberger has been efficient, throwing just one pick in the past four games, but he can't test the Ravens' Pro Bowl safety.

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Old 12-14-2008, 12:21 PM   #2
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Default Re: Game 14 Matchup: Steelers vs. Ravens

I really think we should spread them out and have Moore in the backfield. No matter what though when we pass the ball, they must be short passes. I don't believe the Rats can stop us if we spread them out.
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