Welcome to Overreaction Of The Week, my over the top, uninhibited, Baltimore sports-fan takes on this week’s Baltimore sports activity.
It is officially Steelers Week for the Baltimore Ravens. On Sunday, they’ll travel to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers for Sunday Night Football. It’s the Ravens’s second prime time and second divisional game of the season. Hopefully this one goes better than the first one of these the Ravens tried, as they didn’t look all that good against the Bengals. The Ravens are coming off of an impressive win against the Broncos, on Ray Lewis‘ Hall of Fame ring ceremony day. They overcame a tough start to score 20 unanswered points, as they got solid efforts on both sides of the ball. I warned against overlooking the Broncos with the Steelers looming and the precarious start certainly didn’t calm my nerves. What can the Ravens do to avoid a tough start and get a win in Pittsburgh?
Three and out, blocked punt, and rushing touchdown allowed can’t be what the coaching staff drew up coming into the game. Yet, that’s exactly what happened. Luckily the offense was able to respond immediately. Despite allowing another touchdown on an end-around to Emmanuel Sanders on which the defense seemed to lose any sense of discipline, the offense was able to respond with another score.
After that, the defense was lights out, even without three of their top players: CJ Mosley, Jimmy Smith, and Michael Pierce. Terrell Suggs had a monster game with 5 tackles plus 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. The other Raven that had a great game was the rookie, Kenny Young. This is the third game in a row that I’ve noticed him flying all over the field, and he did this one in front of Ray Lewis and replacing Mosley. He led the team with 10 tackles and already looks like he could be the next young start on defense.
On offense, the Ravens finally committed to the run. Alex Collins got 18 carries and scored a touchdown, and was finally able to get some more running room. I still don’t think this is enough to be honest, I think the offensive line needs a change. Orlando Brown Jr. needs to be inserted into the starting lineup at Right Tackle, he is too talented to not be on the field.
There were several interesting ways the Ravens were able to neutralize Von Miller, by chipping, moving the pocket, and using play action. Mark ‘The Mandrews’ Andrews was able to stretch the middle of the field, hopped over a defender, and made a tough catch to get into the red zone. Just like Kenny Young, Mandrews may be a steal for the offense in the draft. September Joe Flacco continued his strong play at home, he made nice throws down the field to John Brown and Michael Crabtree, while taking advantage of quick strikes to Willie Snead.
There was no way the Ravens were going to lose on Ray Lewis’s Hall of Fame Ring day. Ray did give an odd interview during the game, but the Ravens offense had his back. They played defense that Ray would be proud of, even without his heir apparent in the lineup. Though he should be excited about a victory in Week 3, he, the organization, and the fans are all looking forward to the Steelers next week.
For the first time this year, I’m going to predict that the Ravens lose at the Steelers in Week 4. Playing the Steelers at home is always a challenge, but usually the Ravens have been up to the task. I do think that the Steelers will have moved beyond their drama and will fire cohesively on offense, just as they did Monday Night at the Tampa Bay Bucaneers. James Conner has been a find for them and having to face Antonio Brown without Jimmy Smith will pose a problem. JuJu Smith Schuster on the other side is a big-time playmaker for them and may be the key if Brown draws the attention he deserves. They forced some turnovers against the Bucs, but overall the Steelers defense hasn’t been very good so far. They forced Ryan Fitzpatrick into 3 interceptions and 3 sacks and forced another fumble, but still allowed nearly 500 yards of offense. I get the feeling they’ll figure it out just in time for Sunday Night Football next week. They have a formidable front seven that can cause the running game to sputter and can also rush the passer with TJ Watt and company. The Ravens offense may be in for another tough performance on the road. The Steelers take this one and it may not be as close as the score indicates. Steelers 23, Ravens 17.