After falling to the Baltimore Ravens 35-7 in the season opener, Pittsburgh does not want to get swept by their archrivals.
But as we enter the second half of the season, Pittsburgh is a different team than the one that lost to Baltimore in the opener, and Casey Hampton does not think they will have a repeat of that game on Sunday night.
“I can’t see that happening again,” Hampton said of the Steelers 35-7 loss against the Ravens in their first meeting. “If they beat us, they’re going to beat us, but it’s not going to be an out-tempo thing, where they’re playing faster and with more intensity. I guarantee you that.”
Hampton, who was neutralized by the Ravens blocking scheme, will be prepared, as will the rest of the Steelers, including Hines Ward, if healthy of course.
“You have to understand the magnitude of it, what it means…They whipped our butt the first game,” said Ward. “There’s nothing we can really do about that; now we get a chance Sunday night in Heinz Field.”
Pittsburgh will want to make the most of the Sunday night clash against Baltimore as they try to take a firm grasp on the AFC North.
Here are the keys for the Steelers to earn a victory over the Ravens.
Ben Roethlisberger can escape a lot of pass rushers. Terrell Suggs does not seem to be one of them.
While Roethlisberger made a spectacular escape from Suggs last season to save a sack, Suggs seems to win the battle more often than not.
In the regular season, Suggs has sacked Roethlisberger an impressive 13.5 times, including three times earlier this season.
Suggs isn’t afraid to boast about his success, either.
“No man owns anybody, but, if there is anybody that can bring (Roethlisberger) down by themselves, it’s definitely me,” said Suggs.
The Steelers will have to do better on Sunday. By no means can they let Suggs have a repeat performance.
Roethlisberger was pressured all day and forced into mistake after mistake.
Suggs will primarily match up against Max Starks, who will provide a bit more of a challenge than Jonathan Scott did.
But Baltimore will also move Suggs around, and Pittsburgh should not be surprised this time.
In the previous meeting, Suggs forced a fumble when blitzing up the middle.
Pittsburgh will need to bring in extra blockers to give Starks assistance on the outside and may keep a back in the back field as well.
The Steelers could also continue with the short passing attack so Roethlisberger can get the ball out of his hand before Suggs can get to him.
After the very first play of the game, you just knew that the Steelers were in for a long day.
Ray Rice ran the ball for a 36-yard gain, and he was not stopped for the rest of the day. He had 107 yards on only 19 carries and a touchdown.
He also made an impact in the receiving game, with four receptions for 42 yards and a score.
Pittsburgh’s defense could not find Rice, and when they did, they could not tackle him.
Rice could have a lot more success Sunday night with LaMarr Woodley likely to miss the game and James Harrison remaining a question mark.
With potentially three linebackers out, the Steelers will have to be disciplined along their defensive line to keep Rice’s running lanes clogged.
However, if Harrison starts, Pittsburgh will be able to slide Lawrence Timmons back to the middle, and all of a sudden, the defense does not look in such bad shape.
Regardless of the personnel, though, the Steelers need to put a body on Rice and bring him down.
They cannot afford to allow him to break tackles or get free in the passing game.
When the Steelers play the Ravens, they know they expect a physical game. No team plays Pittsburgh with the intensity that the Ravens do.
With that said, it can be assumed that the Steelers will not get much going on in the ground game.
Nothing against what Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman or Mewelde Moore can do, but the Ravens have the third ranked rush defense, and the Steelers offensive line doesn’t exactly push people around while run blocking.
This means that the Steelers will once again have to lean on Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger proved to be up to the challenge last week against New England. However, he was facing a historically bad pass defense.
Now Roethlisberger will have Suggs and Ray Lewis charging at him and the dangerous Ed Reed roaming in the secondary.
Luckily for Roethlisberger, he has developed quite a bit of chemistry with young receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders and always has the scariest deep threat in the AFC with Mike Wallace.
Not to mention Ward said that he would be returning.
“I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
Ward would give the Steelers a much needed red zone presence, while the rest of the receivers present huge matchup problems for the Ravens secondary. You cannot forget about Heath Miller, either, who was rediscovered last week.
Roethlisberger will have to get the ball out fast to avoid Baltimore’s pass rush, and after watching him last week, I like his chances.
While I strongly consider Roethlisberger for redemption after the first game this year or Starks because of his matchup with Suggs, some cornerback named Ladarius Webb went and opened his mouth.
Earlier this week, Webb said that Antonio Brown was better than Mike Wallace “in all aspects of the game,” and Wallace did not take too kindly to that.
“Who is that guy?” Wallace responded.
“I mean, I have heard of him, but at the end of the day, he can’t check me, so it is what it is,” Wallace said. “That’s got to be somebody who really matters to motivate me; he really don’t.”
I don’t know; that sounds like a player who now has a chip on his shoulder.
However, the bigger chip should come from the fact that the Ravens have held Wallace in check.
In five games against the Ravens, Wallace has 21 receptions with only one 100-yard game and no touchdowns.
Wallace would like to change those stats, and Sunday night would be the perfect time to start.
Lawrence Timmons has been nearly invisible since moving to outside linebacker.
With the potential return of Harrison, Timmons could move back to the inside, where he is a much better defender.
This would give the Steelers defense a huge boost because Timmons has not been a pass rushing threat on the outside and Dick LeBeau can use Timmons in his traditional role in the middle.
You figure that Timmons will be a big component in stopping Rice, as well as helping to slow down Baltimore’s young tight ends who torched Pittsburgh earlier this season.
- Pittsburgh leads the all-time series 18-13, including 10-5 at home.
- Mike Tomlin needs one more win to reach 50 for his career.
- Ben Roethlisberger is 196 yards way from 25,000 yards for his career.
- Hines Ward is 40 yards away from 12,000 for his career.
- Pittsburgh will wear its throwback uniforms.
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