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fordfixer
12-25-2009, 02:29 AM
Wilson: Ravens bracing for Steelers' pass rush

Aaron Wilson
http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/Wil ... -rush.html (http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/Wilson-Ravens-bracing-for-Steelers-pass-rush.html)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The last time the Baltimore Ravens squared off with the Pittsburgh Steelers, quarterback Joe Flacco hit the dirt repeatedly.

James HarrisonAPJames Harrison leads the Steelers with 10 sacks and four forced fumbles.

Sacked a season-high five times during the Ravens’ 20-17 overtime win in late November, Flacco was under constant pressure as linebacker Lawrence Timmons harassed him for two of those sacks and forced one fumble.

Now, the Ravens may have to contend with the Steelers’ sixth-ranked defense without the services of offensive tackle Jared Gaither due to a toe injury that has kept him out of the past two games.

That means that blue-chip rookie offensive tackle Michael Oher would shift over to left tackle again and be largely responsible for blocking intimidating outside linebacker James Harrison, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

“I have to do all my technique and work hard and know him inside-out,” Oher said. “It’s a big challenge. It’s a challenge I look forward to.

“He’s an explosive player. I’ve been watching him for a couple of years. He gets after it.”

Harrison leads the Steelers with 10 sacks and has forced four fumbles.

He’s one year removed from a career-high 16 sacks and an NFL-high seven forced fumbles.

Oher has fared well in the past against Dwight Freeney and held up at times against Jared Allen.

“He’s had tough challenges every week,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said of Oher. “It’s kind of a standard statement, but I think everybody’s coming ready to play.

“It’s a good defense, but we try to protect collectively. It’s not just tackles. It’s guards with tackles, tackles with tight ends, tight ends with fullbacks and our running and protection is all going to be done as a unit. We’re trying to minimize some of the one-on-one matchups.”

That’s a very difficult task against the Steelers who rank second in the NFL with 40 sacks.
Harrison, outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (9 ˝ sacks) and Timmons (six sacks) are all excellent pass rushers.

On the right side, Oniel Cousins, who has started and played capably the last two games, could be challenged by Woodley and Timmons.

“They’ve got a good team overall,” Cousins said. “They play 60 minutes hard. They’re tough. We have to play well the whole game. If we do that, we should be all right.

“The competition gets better every week. That’s how I approach it. I’m preparing myself to help us get this win.”

The key is making sure that Cousins and Oher and Gaither, if he plays, have sufficient chip-blocking assistance from the backs and tight ends.

“These guys, Harrison and Woodley, their entire defensive unit, can create matchup challenges,” Cameron said. “It’s going to be a collective game-plan effort because these guys create one of, if not the, toughest challenges in the league, especially around the edge.”