Here we go again. This Saturday will be another slugfest between bitter rivals when the Ravens travel to Pittsburgh to take on their favorite enemies, the Steelers. I don’t expect to see anything different in this game than we saw in the first two games. It’s going to be another hard-nosed battle with the winning team being the one who avoids making the crucial mistake. We’ve seen it time and time again with these two teams during both the regular season and the playoffs. The Ravens and Steelers split the first two meetings of the season, with the visiting team coming away with both wins.
My advice for the Ravens as it pertains to defense is to get in Roethlisberger’s face enough to where they can break his nose again. Applying pressure on Roethlisberger, along with other things, is what it’s going to take to come away with a win in Pittsburgh. We all know what he can do outside of the pocket, so the key is to keep him in the pocket and not let him extend plays with his legs.
The Ravens did a great job of this on Matt Cassel last Sunday, but it won’t come quite as easy this weekend. I don’t see Roethlisberger making as many mistakes as Cassel did simply because of the difference in their experience level. But one thing is for sure, it’s extremely difficult for any quarterback to throw from his back. The Ravens proved that in last year’s playoff game against the Patriots when Tom Brady could barely get the snap off without someone being in his face. If they are able to get that much pressure on Roethlisberger, he will have no chance.
The Ravens have done a very nice job shutting down Rashard Mendenhall this season, only allowing him to rush for an average of 62 yards in two games. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise considering how well the Ravens’ rush defense played all season, but it’s still a big part of beating the Steelers. If the Ravens are able to shut down Mendenhall early, I’m sure the Steelers will use quick draw plays and screen passes to change things up and try to neutralize the pass rush.
Another threat the Ravens must watch out for is speedster, Mike Wallace. They don’t have anyone in the secondary that matches up well with Wallace, but they just need to follow the same game plan they used to slow him down in the first two games and they’ll be fine. Wallace recorded 100-yard performances in three consecutive games to end the regular season, so let’s hope the Ravens can end that streak this Saturday.
But as I said before, I think this game is going to come down to which team makes the big play on defense toward the end of the game. It’s happened plenty of times before and there’s no reason to believe it won’t happen in this game. I have a feeling that this time the Ravens are going to be the team who either comes up with a big stop or a crucial turnover late in the fourth quarter to conserve the victory. And something tells me Terrell Suggs is going to have something to do with it.
Submitted by Steve Giles