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Old 11-29-2009, 08:45 AM   #1
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Default Key Matchups: At Ravens By: Mike Bires

Sunday November 29, 2009
Key Matchups: At Ravens
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Mendenhall vs. Lewis

Rashard Mendenhall says he has no fear of facing Ray Lewis. The Steelers’ second-year running back says he won’t be intimidated by one of the most feared defenders in NFL history. Even though it was Lewis who ended his rookie season last year, Mendenhall says he’s ready to run against Lewis’ Ravens. Last year, in his first pro start, Mendenhall’s season came to a violent end when he suffered a broken shoulder when tackled by Lewis. “I’m not even thinking about it,” Mendenhall said. “That’s in the past.” Lewis, one of the game’s best trash talkers, will surely be jawing at Mendenhall tonight. With Dennis Dixon making his first start at quarterback, Mendenhall might be the key to the Steelers winning tonight.

Farrior & Timmons vs. Rice

For opposing defenses, Ray Rice is double trouble. The Ravens’ versatile running back ranks third in the NFL with an average of 124.8 yards from scrimmage per game. He’s 10th in the league with 733 rushing yards and 11th with 56 receptions, good for 515 more yards. Rice, a former Rutgers star, is the only running back in the league to lead his team in both rushing yards and pass receptions. “He’s doing a lot of things well for them, and he’s a security blanket for Joe Flacco in the passing game,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “This guy has caught a bunch of check-downs and they do a nice job of understanding where this guy is in the passing game.” For James Farrior and Lawrence Timnmons, the Steelers’ inside linebackers, stopping the run is always their top priority. But tonight, they also must beware of Rice on passing downs.

Kickoff coverage vs. Webb

Until the Steelers prove they can routinely stop a returner from taking one to the house, there’s going to be anxiety throughout Steeler Nation whenever Jeff Reed kicks off. Last week when the Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles returned the opening kick 97 yards, it marked the fourth time in five weeks that the Steelers have allowed a touchdown on a kickoff return. This week, the Steelers made two roster moves in an attempt to solve that problem. Signed were LB Rocky Boiman and CB Corey Ivy, and cut were LB Donovan Woods and CB Keiwan Ratliff. There may be other personnel changes, such as allowing starter linebackers James Harrison and Lawrence Timmons to cover kicks. No doubt, the Steelers’ propensity for getting burnt by kickoff return specialists is one of the great mysteries this season. And tonight, they face Baltimore’s Lardarius Webb, whose nifty 28.0 yards per return average is enhanced by a 95-yard TD return earlier this year.
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Old 11-29-2009, 12:33 PM   #2
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Default Re: Key Matchups: At Ravens By: Mike Bires

These are 3 big match ups for this game. A good game from Mendenhall would be a big bonus. Timmons and the entire defense must focus on shutting down Ray Rice. And can we please finally play a game where after it's finished we are not complaining about our special teams.
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Old 11-29-2009, 05:07 PM   #3
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Default Re: Key Matchups: At Ravens By: Mike Bires

I think the big matchup is the Steelers D limiting the Ravens to FG's. I dont know if a DD lead offense can rack up 21 points or more..........but am hoping!!!
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