View Full Version : With Ravens Hot On Their Heels, Steelers Look To Lock Up Div

12-09-2008, 07:28 PM
http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/spo ... etail.html (http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/sports/18238299/detail.html)
With Ravens Hot On Their Heels, Steelers Look To Lock Up Division
Steelers Winless In Baltimore Since 2002

POSTED: 3:42 pm EST December 9, 2008
UPDATED: 5:41 pm EST December 9, 2008

PITTSBURGH -- The last time the Steelers and Ravens met, the collateral damage from a brutal battle between two division rivals was evident.

Players were lost for the season, even bounties were mentioned.

For the Steelers, that 23-20 overtime victory against the Ravens at Heinz Field on Sept. 29 came with a price.

Rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall (shoulder) and offensive lineman Kendall Simmons (Achilles tendon) were both placed on injured reserve following season-ending surgeries.

With the Steelers (10-3) looking to lock up the AFC North with a win over the Ravens (9-3) at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore at 4:15 p.m. on Sunday, there's no reason to believe this time will be any different.

Come Sunday, the Steelers will enter a hostile environment with an even bigger target on their back given what's at stake.

"When you're in the five-star game of the week almost every week, it gets our attention, it makes us better," said head coach Mike Tomlin. "We don't have time to pat ourselves on the back about victories."

When it comes to traveling to Baltimore, the Steelers don't have much to brag about either.

The last time they won there was a 31-18 victory in 2002.

Since then, they've dropped their last five games in Baltimore, including a 30-13 defeat in 2004, the Steelers' only loss during a 15-1 season.

"We understand the task," said Tomlin of his team's need to break their recent trend on the road against the Ravens.

While the Steelers appear to be getting healthy in time for a playoff run [Tomlin said defensive end Brett Keisel is "getting closer" to returning from a knee injury], they'll need to jumpstart a running game that has been absent in recent weeks.

This season, the Steelers are No. 23 in run offense, their second-lowest ranking since 1970.

"Do we need to get better and be more consistent and play 60 minutes of winning football offensively? Absolutely," Tomlin said. "That doesn't mean it's going to happen this weekend. Hopefully [the score] is not 3-2, but I'll take it if it is."

Parker and fellow running back Mewelde Moore combined for just 47 yards on 17 carries during the Steelers' 20-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys at Heinz Field.

"Dallas has a good defense. Let's not forget when teams play us, they come in here prepared to play. We know we're going to get their best," Tomlin said.

Similar to their game with the Cowboys, this week's contest looks to be another defensive struggle.

The Steelers rank No.1 in the NFL in total defense, allowing 241.9 yards per game.

The Ravens are No.2 with 253.4 yards per game.

The Steelers have allowed the fewest rushing yards this season, holding teams to 949 yards through 13 games.

The Ravens rank third with 1,001 yards.

The Steelers defense is also tied for first in the league with sacks (45), while their own quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 42 times (second most in the NFL).

Roethlisberger has also been intercepted 12 times, something he'll have to limit against a Ravens defense that has a league-leading 22 interceptions.

"It's pretty appropriate that the two best teams in the division will be playing for the division championship -- not just this week, but for the next three weeks. In that sense, it's exciting to be a part of it," said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.

12-09-2008, 08:49 PM
Ravens are 9-4 not 9-3