Baltimore Ravens vs Pittsburgh Steelers: Will Joe Flacco Outsmart Troy Polamalu?

Old AccountSenior Writer IDecember 5, 2010

PITTSBURGH - JANUARY 18:  Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs down Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens during the AFC Championship game on January 18, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight for the right to have sole possession of first place in the AFC North. In recent years, none of these games has been decided by more than 10 points.

Thus, the turnover battle will be huge today for both teams. The biggest question facing the Baltimore Ravens is Joe Flacco's ability to avoid huge mistakes.

One way of doing that will be against Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. It is no secret in Flacco's first three years as a starter that he has trouble avoiding Troy Polamalu in key situations.

Through 12 weeks, Flacco has shown improvement in the turnover margin, with only eight interceptions despite his brutal start in September. However, over the years Polamalu has taken advantage of the routes of which Flacco likes to use.

He is certainly looking at last week's matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where some of Flacco's passes could have easily been intercepted.

In recent weeks, Flacco has continued to push the ball down the field with his veteran receivers. Polamalu took advantage of Flacco's inexperience in his first two seasons as he found ways to create more turnovers down the field.

It will be critical for Flacco to have more awareness as to where Polamalu is on the field at all times. I do believe these mistakes can be avoided. Earlier in the season, Flacco had the tendency to only look for one receiver, which led to opposing defenses catching onto his act.

However, he is beginning to create good chemistry with all of his receivers. Last week, Derrick Mason was the main target. T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Todd Heap got action their way as well.

With the amount of weapons available for him, Flacco should be able to avoid Polamalu throughout the course of the game. That doesn't mean Anquan Boldin or another receiver should be ignored because Troy is in that direction, but Flacco should be patient and take what the Steelers defense gives him.

If Flacco can avoid turnovers, the Baltimore Ravens will be in a better situation to defeat their arch-rival.


Matt Miselis is a Ravens/NFL Featured Columnist for

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