I love it. I hate it. I literally won’t be able to breathe tomorrow night starting about 8pm. It’s just how it goes for Ravens week. After week 1′s butt whooping, I hope the Steelers make up for the harassment we all had to endure from Ravens fans. I’m just not sure I could handle a sweep. Especially since the Ravens have only swept the Steelers once, ever! I can’t take it.
Beating the Patriots last week was so wonderful, but beating the Ravens this week would make the entire season feel like Christmas morning. I have to admit it, I’m a little scared. No Legursky, no Sanders (all my love E! We’re thinking about you), no Woodley. Â Woodley was a big part of the reason that Brady didn’t have the game I am sure he would have liked last week. Â I can see Flacco’s grin from here knowing that he won’t have to face Woodley. Â But we’re still waiting to hear if Harrison got the “GO” light from doctors, he’s listed as probable.
The keys to winning this game?
First, stop Ray Rice. Â And don’t let anyone open deep. Â In fact, keep the Ravens offense off the field, period. The key to the win last week was time of possession. Out of 60 minutes of football, the Steelers controlled the ball for more than 39 of them against the Patriots. They need to do the same against the Ravens. The Steelers have not allowed a QB to pass for 300 yards yet this season and I hope they don’t start now. Tomorrow is the day the defense needs to play like their lives depend on it. And in some ways they do – at least to all of us in Steeler Nation. Since Dick LeBeau has been defensive coordinator, the Steelers have allowed an average of 15.9 points per game at Heinz Field. They rank second in the NFL over that time span for points given up at home during the regular season. And guess who is first? Yeah, you are right, the Baltimore Ravens (booo!) with just 14.9.
The Steelers have to keep the Ravens out of the Red Zone. Â When they get inside the 20 I start to rock back and forth and my cheeks turn red from holding my breath. The good news here is that over the past 3 weeks, the Steelers have only allowed opponents to enter the red zone a total of 5 times. The Steelers have to keep the Ravens offense off the field.
And even though the first game of the season was not good at all, Â the Steelers still held Flacco to 215 passing yards. But I truly hope to see the Ravens kickers (especially the punter) more than Flacco tomorrow night!
(FYI: The Steelers have 20 sacks so far this season, how many more can we add to that total tomorrow? I hope LOTS!)
Second, get past the Ravens defense. Ben totaled 365 passing yards last week, his 18th 300-yard passing game of his career and the third this season. I’d like to see him add to that total this week, but I don’t expect Ray Lewis or Suggs Â to make it easy for him. Â Over the past 4 games, the Steelers have outrushed the opponents and all of those games were wins. This is positive for the running game, right? That’s what the Steelers are about, smash mouth, run it down your throat football. Â The thing is though, there needs to be a nice mix between run and pass plays. Whoever has been calling the game recently has been doing a good job (and no, I can’t believe it’s Arians!)
Sure, it’s more complicated than that, but honestly, not much.
What’s become clear at the mid-point of this season is that the AFC North is one of the best divisions out there and it’s the only division with 3 teams over .500 (Steelers, Ravens and Bengals). In my opinion, it’s the toughest, meanest, most smashmouth division in the NFL. And, of course, the best.
What do you think are the keys to beating the Ravens tomorrow?
I can’t wait for the game tomorrow. Here we go Steelers!
Random Pittsburgh-Baltimore-Steelergurl Connections:
Ravens QB Joe Flacco played for Pitt from 2003-2004. Â Steelergurl also attended Pitt but a few years before that! Steelergurl attended Pitt (and worked in the Pitt football office) with Jerry Olsavsky, Steelers Offensive assistant coach and Teryl Austin, Ravens secondary coach who both played for Pitt. Small football world. If the game were on Fox, I would also add Tony “Goose” Siragusa to the list of players I knew in college.