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|12-05-2010, 08:43 AM||#1|
A Son of Martha
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Game 12 matchup: Steelers vs. Ravens
Game 12 matchup: Steelers vs. Ravens
Sunday, December 05, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
When the Ravens have the ball: QB Joe Flacco, who historically had struggled against the Steelers, passed for 256 yards and threw the winning TD with 36 seconds remaining to end the Ravens' four-game losing streak at Heinz Field Oct. 3. In his past four games, he has completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 1,071 yards, eight TDs and a passer rating of 109.7. RB Ray Rice was limited in the first meeting but has rushed for 292 yards on 73 carries and caught 23 passes for 253 yards in his past four games. Rice is the only back in the past 45 games to rush for more than 100 yards against the Steelers. The Ravens could be without FB Le'Ron McClain, who sprained his ankle against the Buccaneers. LT Michael Oher (sprained knee) is expected to play. The Steelers rank fifth in the NFL in total defense, but they lead the league in rush defense (64 ypg) and lead the AFC in fewest points allowed (181) and takeaways (26).
When the Steelers have the ball: Ben Roethlisberger, who has won his past five starts vs. the Ravens and is 7-2 lifetime against them, is bothered by a broken right foot that will limit how many snaps he can take under center -- a potentially significant problem for a QB who lines under center approximately 70 percent of the time. The Ravens' defense is No. 8 in the league, but their rush defense has slipped to No. 11, allowing an average of 97.2 yards the past five games. RB Rashard Mendehal didn't have overwhelming numbers in the first meeting -- 79 yards and 2 TDs on 25 carries -- but he gained a lot of tough yards inside against DT Haloti Ngata and NT Kelly Gregg. Nagata (5) and DE Terrell Suggs (71???2) have combined for 121???2 of the team's 19 sacks. Suggs has nine sacks and one INT in 14 career games vs. the Steelers.
Keep an eye on:
WR Anquan Boldin ... He had seven catches for 68 yards in the first meeting and leads the Ravens in catches (51), receiving yards (652) and touchdowns (6). Along with WRs Derrick Mason and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Boldin gives the Ravens three players with 600 or more career receptions -- the only team in NFL history to have three wideouts with that many catches on its active roster.
The Ravens won the first meeting of the season at Heinz Field in Week 4 on a Joe Flacco TD pass to Houshmanzadeh with 32 seconds remaining, ending a four-game losing streak in Pittsburgh. And they have won six of the past seven games in Baltimore. But the series has been amazingly close: The past seven games, two of which were decided in overtime, have been decided by a total of 31 points. The Steelers are 5-1 on the road, tied for the second-best road record in the league.
Keys to victory
To win, the Ravens must ???
1 Send men at Ben. His injury will keep him in the shotgun and force him to make quicker throws than normal.
2 Be bold with Anquan. The Ravens' passing game is ideally suited to take advantage of the short, intermediate routes the Steelers allow in their secondary.
3 Be hard on Rashard. Mendenhall has been more productive on the road than at home, rushing for 570 of his 962 yards on 130 carries (4.38 ypc).
To win, the Steelers must ???
1 Fry Rice. He played sparingly in the first meeting because of injury, but he has been productive running and catching the past four games.
2 Take heed of Reed. The Ravens' Pro Bowl safety has never been a big factor vs. Roethlisberger, but that's because he tries to be aware where he is at all times.
3 Make Flacco an ordinary Joe. Since that winning drive against the Steelers, he has been as efficient and productive as any quarterback in the league.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10339...#ixzz17FTLBLxv
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