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coldrolled
11-30-2010, 04:27 PM
John Eisenberg - Baltimore

The rivalry between the Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers conjures vivid and powerful images. Do you think NBC will promote its broadcast of Sunday night's game with shots of flowers and bunnies? I don't think so. This is tough man's football.

If you put the teams' names together Ravens-Steelers and play word association, what comes to mind? I'm seeing a dark and stormy night, bodies colliding, helmets flying, a baseball-like score inching upward with every field goal. I'm seeing a rugby scrum of a game, running backs slamming into brick walls, every yard grudgingly yielded.

But while all of that smash-mouth stuff is accurate in part, certainly sells well and will be on display Sunday night, the reality is the Ravens are going to have to excel at (horrors) Fancy Football to beat their rivals for a second time in 2010.



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The Ravens are going to have to pass the ball over the Steelers, not run it through them, in order to win.

All signs point to this, starting with the fact that the Ravens' running game has been reduced from a load-carrier to a mid-sized vehicle this year. Baltimore is ranked a ho-hum 14th in the league in rushing. I've waited and waited for that modest pace to pick up, for the Ravens to go back to relying on the run as they always do, but I've realized that transformation isn't coming. While they still run it plenty, they're becoming a team that lives by the pass.

That's probably a good thing, seeing as they're averaging just 3.7 yards per carry this season down a full yard per carry from a year ago. Whew, talk about a significant statistic flying under the radar. One reason the Ravens are passing more is they're just not running as well. They're still grinding out decent enough production, but they lack explosion. Their longest run of 2010 is just 30 yards.

Part of the issue is what's happening up front. The entire right side of their line had to be reconfigured at the last minute because of Jared Gaither's back injury. Michael Oher is in his first year on the left side and, frankly, having just an OK season. Now, Chris Chester has been out lately after battling an infection, and Oher is questionable for Sunday because of a knee sprain. That's a lot of transition.

Throw in the fact that the Steelers have the league's top run defense anyway, yielding just 64 yards per game, and it becomes clear where the Ravens need to attack. They need to go after a Pittsburgh pass defense that is ranked 22nd in the league.

Yes, that's where ball-hawking safety Troy Polamalu lurks, but Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has become pretty careful, especially at home, where he has thrown one interception in the last calendar year. That's the Ravens' ticket, no question. It's simply a myth that they're going to try to grind the Steelers down with their running game.

The development of the Ravens' passing game has been, well, a process. The addition of receivers Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh was supposed to bring fireworks, but there was clearly an early adjustment period, and there are still times when the whole thing just goes dark for awhile. But the Ravens are becoming a big-strike passing team.

Last Sunday, they scored on a 65-yard pass from Flacco to Todd Heap and a 12-yarder to Derrick Mason. The week before in Carolina, it was a 56-yarder to Houshmandzadeh on their second offensive play. Against Atlanta on Nov. 11, Flacco fired three touchdown passes in a second half rally. The week before that, he tossed a 34-yarder to Boldin.

Nine of the Ravens' past 11 offensive touchdowns have come on passes, including those strikes of 65, 56, 34 and 26 yards.

Smash-mouth offense? I don't think so. The Ravens have joined the NFL's air parade, and with three accomplished veteran receivers flooding opposing secondaries on many plays, and Ray Rice as the safety valve, they're doing pretty well with it.

If they can beat the Steelers with it Sunday night and grab control of the AFC North, no one around here will mind that it's Fancy Football.

John Eisenberg covers the Ravens for Comcast SportsNet Baltimore. He worked in the newspaper business for 28 years as a sports columnist, with much of that time coming at the Baltimore Sun. While working for the Sun, Eisenberg spent time covering the Ravens, among other teams and events, including the Super Bowl, Final Four, World Series and Olympics. Eisenberg is also the author of seven sports-themed books.

steelers4life66
11-30-2010, 04:58 PM
That ain't no big surprise. No one has run on us all year, and our secondary sucks. Naturally they're going to trow the ball.

SteelDad
11-30-2010, 05:23 PM
Ya no shocker there, but I still think they'll try to run it with Rice more than we think.

Goodfrom55
11-30-2010, 05:27 PM
They will look to "situationally " run the football. Draw plays, end arounds, that type of stuff. Rice hasn't been that great this year, and McClain is banged up, but the Steelers killer has been McGahee down around the goalline.

Again, stuff the run, take away the high % pass and force Flacco to hold onto the ball for extra second. . .clearly the difference between a sack and a roughing the passer penalty.

jnes1216
11-30-2010, 05:30 PM
He says the key for us in the article -- "Ray Rice as the safety valve".
We need to keep this guy in check.

Goodfrom55
11-30-2010, 05:35 PM
True. . .Farrior couldn't cover him last year, but is playing better this year, where Rice is down this year.

coldrolled
11-30-2010, 05:42 PM
seeing oher's knee on the replays, that looked worse than troy's knee when crumpler bent his..

i would say oher is out for a few weeks.

IMO

Goodfrom55
11-30-2010, 06:22 PM
Great movie (Blind Side), great story, but I hope Oher is out for at least this game.

Hey, it's not like he won't get paid. . .

Scorp
11-30-2010, 06:58 PM
That ain't no big surprise. No one has run on us all year, and our secondary sucks. Naturally they're going to trow the ball.

When our D plays like they don't give a rats dead *** why try and run the ball let alone throw it? These two teams always bring out the best in eachother and boy when Sunday comes around, there will be some kind of serious, wonderful hell to pay. Good luck sorry ratbirds. :stirpot:

Rampage
11-30-2010, 08:07 PM
Great movie (Blind Side), great story, but I hope Oher is out for at least this game.

Hey, it's not like he won't get paid. . .

What does blindside refer to anyway? The refs turning a blind eye on his holds on Harrison?

jpele
11-30-2010, 08:22 PM
What does blindside refer to anyway? The refs turning a blind eye on his holds on Harrison?

:plus1:

Big T
11-30-2010, 10:08 PM
What does blindside refer to anyway? The refs turning a blind eye on his holds on Harrison?

Even more so with Woodley this year. Ive seen Woodley completely raped in so many plays this year that werent called. its been ridiculous. I think the worst was the saints game. Stinchcomb held him so many times without calls; and Im not just talking about minor everydown holds. Im talking about the obvious **** that would be called against us in a heart beat. f*cked up.

steelersbabex25
11-30-2010, 10:41 PM
They'll do what every team does. Have a pretty even balance of pass and run for 30 minutes, give or take, and their run will get completely shut down. And then they'll come in for the second half and be like wait, why are we trying to run the ball against the #1 rush defense when their secondary can't stop a single short pass, and they'll start picking us apart. That being said, the Steelers need to shut them out in the first half and put up some big points to survive. I have no doubt that they'll be able to do that, but it'll be difficult.

coldrolled
12-01-2010, 06:26 AM
They'll do what every team does. Have a pretty even balance of pass and run for 30 minutes, give or take, and their run will get completely shut down. And then they'll come in for the second half and be like wait, why are we trying to run the ball against the #1 rush defense when their secondary can't stop a single short pass, and they'll start picking us apart. That being said, the Steelers need to shut them out in the first half and put up some big points to survive. I have no doubt that they'll be able to do that, but it'll be difficult.

:plus1: not much to add to this one..

Rampage
12-01-2010, 03:21 PM
Even more so with Woodley this year. Ive seen Woodley completely raped in so many plays this year that werent called. its been ridiculous. I think the worst was the saints game. Stinchcomb held him so many times without calls; and Im not just talking about minor everydown holds. Im talking about the obvious **** that would be called against us in a heart beat. f*cked up.

Yeah, Woodley got tooled all night by holds in NO. Steelers may as well play with an extra two DBs; LBs aren't allowed to touch a QB, might as well cover.

coldrolled
12-01-2010, 05:35 PM
on the ravens site.. oher is not practicing and says his leg hurts. hopes he can play sunday. sounds like he may miss this one..

Troyisabeast_43
12-01-2010, 05:39 PM
on the ravens site.. oher is not practicing and says his leg hurts. hopes he can play sunday. sounds like he may miss this one..

He did practice today but then left practice cause he didnt feel good. McClain didnt practice at all today and it looks like he will not play in this game for the Ravens. Whether Oher plays in this game or not he is not going to be 100 percent by any stretch which most definitely should be a huge advantage for Harrison and the Steelers linebackers. The Steelers are going to have to get to Joe Flacco in this game and put pressure on him. If they do there is no doubt in my mind that at some point Flacco will make a mistake or two against this defense and turn the ball over.

steelersbabex25
12-01-2010, 05:40 PM
on the ravens site.. oher is not practicing and says his leg hurts. hopes he can play sunday. sounds like he may miss this one..

Hope he CAN play? :scratch: I'm hoping with all my heart that he can't play :lol:

--- Added 12/1/2010 at 04:40 PM ---


The Steelers are going to have to get to Joe Flacco in this game and put pressure on him. If they do there is no doubt in my mind that at some point Flacco will make a mistake or two against this defense and turn the ball over.

I hope they can. They made the Bills offensive line look like the best in the league.

Troyisabeast_43
12-01-2010, 05:58 PM
The Steelers need to score early in this game I believe and weather the early storm of the crowd. I think that will be a big big key in this game for the Steelers. I was at the game in Baltimore last year where Dixon started on Sunday night and the Ravens defense really really feeds off that crowd especially at the start of the game. The Steelers need to get an early score of some sort and quiet the Ravens crowd and make them nervous. They were able to do that last season with Dennis Dixon when he got the early score with Holmes. After that score the Baltimore crowd was never as loud as it was before the Steelers scored and the game started. The Steelers while they still will need to be patient and not get too rattled early on in the game would help themselves out a great deal if they were to take their opening possession and put 7 points on the board...

coldrolled
12-01-2010, 08:43 PM
Hope he CAN play? :scratch: I'm hoping with all my heart that he can't play :lol:

--- Added 12/1/2010 at 04:40 PM ---



I hope they can. They made the Bills offensive line look like the best in the league.

oher says he hopes he can play..:tt02:

steelersbabex25
12-01-2010, 08:50 PM
oher says he hopes he can play..:tt02:

Ohhhh :rofl:

Farrior Fan
12-01-2010, 10:36 PM
Just wait, we are only a couple of years away from promoting Steelers v. Ravens game with rainbows and unicorns. At halftime maybe they can do an ANALysis of who is better Brady or peyton. Gag me with a goalpost.

Rampage
12-02-2010, 11:01 AM
Just wait, we are only a couple of years away from promoting Steelers v. Ravens game with rainbows and unicorns. At halftime maybe they can do an ANALysis of who is better Brady or peyton. Gag me with a goalpost.

No, they won't do a "who is better" section. They are going to follow the soccer mentality:

"Which quarterback is the winner, and which is the second winner?"

SteelersWoman
12-03-2010, 04:16 PM
Just wait, we are only a couple of years away from promoting Steelers v. Ravens game with rainbows and unicorns...

Ray must've gotten that memo--he's already getting into the spirit of it with his old spice commercials lol

JensK
12-03-2010, 06:44 PM
Oher have been practicing most of the week. Pretty sure he'll play.