View Full Version : Steelers-Ravens Matchups

12-27-2009, 02:30 AM
Steelers-Ravens Matchups
Friday, December 25, 2009

The following are some of the interesting matchups to watch when the Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Heinz Field:

STEELERS QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER VS. RAVENS SECONDARY: Baltimore’s defense comes into Sunday’s game ranked No. 24 in the NFL in sacks per pass attempt, and it moved up into the sixth spot in interceptions, but only after a recent flurry that had them record eight in the previous three games. The Ravens have had issues at cornerback all season, with the combination of departed veterans and injuries creating a revolving door that started with Chris McAlister not being retained and then Samari Rolle on PUP and then Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb on IR. Add to that the absence of Ed Reed for the previous three games with a hip injury, and the Ravens’ back line has been an area targeted by opposing teams. Philip Rivers passed for 426 yards; Brett Favre went for 278 and three touchdowns; Peyton Manning for 299; and Aaron Rodgers for 263 and three touchdowns. But in the three games previous to the one vs. the Steelers, the Ravens defense has feasted on Jay Cutler (four interceptions), Daunte Culpepper (two) and Rodgers (two) to raise their season total to 20. With Roethlisberger coming off a franchise-record performance against a solid Packers defense, there would seem to be the potential for this game to develop into a shoot-out. But it always seems that when shoot-outs are predicted, the defenses rise to the occasion.

STEELERS CBs DESHEA TOWNSEND AND IKE TAYLOR VS. RAVENS WRs DERRICK MASON AND MARK CLAYTON: Like the Ravens’, the Steelers’ pass defense has not been up to the team’s typical standards this season, and Coach Mike Tomlin has juggled some personnel groupings before making a change to the starting lineup for this week’s game. William Gay will be replaced as one starting cornerback by Deshea Townsend. “That was the decision Coach gave me. That’s the game plan, I guess,” Gay said after yesterday’s practice. “You got to always go with the head coach. He makes the best decisions to suit the situation. I just got to go in and do my best. The season isn’t over yet. And you’re always one play away. You definitely want to stay ready.” The Steelers have allowed 308 and 383 yards passing in their previous two home games – vs. Oakland and Green Bay – and three touchdown passes in each. In the first meeting with the Ravens, Mark Clayton caught seven passes for 129 yards, an 18.4 average for a receiver who has averaged 13.2 on his other 26 catches. The Steelers have not recorded an interception since Nov. 9 in Denver, and their eight on the season is tied for second-to-last in the league with Oakland. Cleveland has six interceptions on the season.

STEELERS ILBs JAMES FARRIOR AND LAWRENCE TIMMONS VS. RAVENS RB RAY RICE: Part of the Steelers plan vs. every opponent they face is to pressure the quarterback, and part of the Ravens plan in every game this year to defeat that strategy is to dump the ball off to Ray Rice. “He’s doing a lot of things well for them, and he’s a security blanket for Joe Flacco in the passing game,” said Tomlin about Rice before the teams met in Baltimore on Nov. 29. “This guy has caught a bunch of check-downs and they do a nice job of understanding where this guy is in the passing game.” Rice enters the game as the Ravens’ leading receiver with 73 catches, 26 of which have been good for first downs, with 22 receptions coming on third downs. In the first meeting between these teams this season, Rice converted a fourth-and-5 with a 44-yard catch-and-run, and earlier converted a third-and-12 with an 18-yard catch. Whatever the Steelers were doing to try to control Rice didn’t work very well, but with Troy Polamalu still sidelined there might not be much they can change.

STEELERS RB RASHARD MENDENHALL VS. RAVENS ILBs TAVARES GOODEN AND RAY LEWIS: Gooden was injured and didn’t play last weekend against the Bears, and he was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Dannell Ellerbe, but no matter who is lined up next to Ray Lewis, the Ravens will be looking to do a better job against Mendenhall and the Steelers running attack. In that Nov. 29 game in Baltimore, the Steelers rushed for 153 yards and averaged 4.0 per attempt, and they were able to do it even though the Ravens knew the Steelers would be trying to protect inexperienced quarterback Dennis Dixon. Mendenhall finished with 95 yards on 24 carries that night, and in many ways it was one of his best performances as a pro. Since the Steelers proved to the Ravens they could run the football in the last game, they should force the Ravens to prove they can stop the run in this game.

12-27-2009, 03:08 AM
Steelers Game 15 Matchup: vs. Ravens
Gerry Dulac breaks down the AFC North showdown
Sunday, December 27, 2009
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When the Ravens have the ball: They had modest success rushing in the first meeting, getting 88 yards on 19 carries from RB Ray Rice and finishing with 132 yards on 29 attempts. While the Steelers have not exactly been stingy against the run the past four games, the Ravens would be crazy not to attack the deep middle of the field, where safeties Ryan Clark and Tyrone Carter have been vulnerable to big plays. Joe Flacco passed for 234 yards and four TDs in last week's victory against the Bears, even though he didn't complete a pass longer than 32 yards. But he passed for 289 yards in the first meeting and even completed a couple of deep throws to Mark Clayton to set up a pair of touchdowns. The Steelers have not had an interception in the past six games or a takeaway in the past three games.

When the Steelers have the ball: Ben Roethlisberger completed 54 of 97 passes for 692 yards, three touchdowns and only one interception in three victories against the Ravens last season, but he did not play in the first meeting because of post-concussion symptons. If the Steelers are to beat the Ravens and win their final two games to keep alive their playoff hopes, Roethlisberger will have to play as he did against the Packers, when he threw for 503 yards. That's because the Steelers cannot rely on their defense, which continues to collapse in the fourth quarter. Roethlisberger, though, has been sacked 13 times in the past two games and his ability to not turn the ball over in those two games, given the pressure, is almost astounding. DE/LB Terrell Suggs, who did not play in the first meeting because of a knee injury, has started the past two games.
Keep your eye on

S Ed Reed: The Steelers proved again they are not afraid to throw at any cornerback, not even Green Bay's Charles Woodson. But one player they are always aware of, and have often tried to avoid, is Ravens free safety Ed Reed, who has 46 career interceptions, including six for touchdowns, in 117 career games. Reed has not played since the first meeting because of a hip/groin injury and his status is unknown. He has three interceptions this season, including a 52-yard scoring return, but he hasn't had an interception in the past seven games against the Steelers.


The Ravens have won three of their past four games, including a 20-17 overtime victory against the Steelers Nov. 29, and can effectively eliminate the Steelers from wild-card playoff consideration with a victory. The Steelers have won the past three meetings against the Ravens at Heinz Field. The victory against the Packers was their fourth against a team with a winning record (Chargers, Vikings and Broncos are the others).
Keys to victory

To win, the Ravens must ...

1. Send men at Ben. The return of Suggs should help pressure Roethlisberger, who has been sacked 13 times in the past two games.

2. Leave Clark in the dark. Most of the nine pass plays of 40 yards or longer against the Steelers occur in the middle of the field.

3. Keep Ray at bay. MLB Ray Lewis had a team-high nine tackles in the first meeting for a defense that ranks No. 4 in the league.

To win, the Steelers must ...

1. Not be nice to Rice. He has rushed for 395 yards on 62 carries in the past four games and tends to break tackles after short catches.

2. Get Flacco out of whack-o. After a slow start, he had nearly 300 yards, a touchdown and no picks in the first meeting against the Steelers.

3. Throw far on Carr. The big play has returned to the Steelers' offense and they will not back off from attacking CB Chris Carr.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09361/10 ... z0as39PVIm (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09361/1023873-66.stm#ixzz0as39PVIm)

12-27-2009, 03:16 AM
Steelers-Ravens: Key matchups

By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sport ... chups.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sports_details/article/1501/2009/december/26/steelers-ravens-key-matchups.html)

Saturday December 26, 2009 05:54 PM


Ray Rice is the man who makes the Ravens’ offense go. He’s sixth in the NFL with 1,128 rushing yards. He also leads all NFL running backs with 73 catches and 669 receiving yards.

When the Steelers lost in Baltimore, 20-17 in overtime on Nov. 29, the Steelers witnessed first-hand how dangerous Rice can be. In that game, Rice rushed for 88 yards (4.6 per carry) and caught five passes for 67 yards.

With 3:31 left and the Steelers up 17-14, Rice made the key play of the game. On fourth-and-5 from the Baltimore 46-yard line, Joe Flacco threw short to Rice, who broke a tackle and raced 44 yards to the Steelers’ 10. On that play, Rice blew by inside linebacker James Farrior for the catch and then eluded several defenders, inside backer Lawrence Timmons among them, for the long gain.

Today, Farrior and Timmons will be most responsible for shadowing Rice and keeping him in check.


James Harrison, the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of Year, has been very quiet in recent weeks. He hasn’t had a sack in the past four games, a streak that started Nov. 29 when he was matched up against Ravens rookie tackle Michael Oher. In his past two game regular-season home games against the Ravens, Harrison totaled six sacks for 55 yards in losses, four forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception. Oher, the Ravens’ first-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft, isn’t the biggest left tackle in the world (he’s 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds). But he’s a former All-America at Ole Miss who projects to have a long and successful pro career.
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On Nov. 29, cornerback Willie Gay led the Steelers with eight solo tackles. That’s because he was constantly making the stop after being scorched by a Ravens wide receiver, usually Mark Clayton. In that game, Clayton caught seven passes for 129 yards. Today, however, the Ravens won’t be able to pick on Gay, at least not when the Steelers are in their base 3-4 defense. Gay is out of the starting lineup and will be replaced by 34-year-old veteran Deshea Townsend. In the base defense, it will be Townsend and Ike Taylor at corner against Clayton and Derrick Mason. On obvious passing downs when the Steelers use their nickel and other sub-package defenses, Gay or rookie Joe Burnett will come in and play on the outside while Townsend moves inside to cover the slot receiver.