View Full Version : It's Ravens Week

09-29-2010, 01:34 AM
It's Ravens Week

By Bob Labriola - Steelers.com
http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/ ... 2858865dcf (http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/Its-Ravens-Week/706f6d16-5007-4fef-8c98-c42858865dcf)

Coach Mike Tomlin sat in the chair behind the microphone, and after getting the pleasantries out of the way – a simple, good afternoon – he got right to the heart of the matter.

“It’s Ravens week, of course.”

Indeed, it is Ravens week in Pittsburgh, just as it undoubtedly is Steelers week in Baltimore, and what that means is the first of the annual home-and-home series of street fights between these teams is on the immediate horizon.

“It’s business as usual for us, typical Baltimore Ravens kind of outfit,” said Tomlin. “They have the No. 1 defense in football, led by Ray Lewis and company. He’s got his usual cohorts who are wreaking havoc on their opponents. They’ve given up the fewest first downs by far in the NFL. I think they’re second in the league in red zone defense. So they desire to play football the way we desire to play football. I think that’s what makes this matchup special.”

While there have been only 30 games between these teams in a series that began in 1996 according to official NFL records, Steelers-Ravens is a direct descendent of Steelers-Browns, as in the Art Modell Cleveland Browns. Back in 1950 when the NFL absorbed the Cleveland franchise from the All-America Football Conference, the residents of each city regarded the others as rubes. From there, the football games became events that often were more hotly contested in the stands than on the field.

Much of that happened before Tomlin was born, and during his life as the Steelers coach games he has been a part of seven games against the Ravens, and he has a strong opinion about the rivalry.

“I think it’s unique because it’s the best rivalry in the NFL,” said Tomlin. “I’ve witnessed about the last seven of those meetings, and it’s always fireworks. It’s always significant. It just is. It’s football the way it’s supposed to be played. Those guys put a lot into it on both sides. Both teams I’d imagine are spent when it’s over. Mutual respect is a big part of it.”

There always is a lot of talk from both locker rooms about respecting the other side, but the reality is that the over-riding emotion come game day is not respect, but hate. Often, the winner of the game is the team best able to channel that in the proper way.

“You want to play mistake-free, and you don’t want to hurt yourself,” said Tomlin about a lot of the post-whistle shenigans that are a part of games against bitter rivals. “You can tell maybe the Ravens game last week vs. Cleveland got out of hand, but that’s AFC North football. We understand that, and they understand that going into the game. I think these two teams do a good job, better than what people give them credit for, in terms of playing clean and controlling their emotions when we see one another. We know that the game is potentially going to be tight, and you can’t reduce your chances of winning by hurting yourself.”

There have been times when the stakes were high for Steelers vs. Ravens, and other times when one of the teams was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs while the other had clinched its spot. The Ravens opened the 2010 season picked by many to win the AFC North, while the Steelers were after-thoughts as a result of the Ben Roethlisberger suspension.

But as history has shown, and as Tomlin said on Tuesday, “I think most story lines are irrelevant when these two teams play each other.”

Story lines are irrelevant, because when the Steelers and Ravens meet all that is important to anyone on either sideline is beating the other.

“We got a great deal of respect for this outfit,” said Tomlin. “They bring the best out in us, and we love playing against them. Regardless of what happens in the stadium, you’re going to learn a lot about yourself playing against the Baltimore Ravens.”

09-29-2010, 01:36 AM
Week 4 games to watch in the NFL
Charlie Batch, Mike Wallace

The surprising 3-0 Steelers take on the rugged Ravens in Baltimore, always a defensive battle and always a grudge match — this time with the added ingredient of Ben Roethlisberger's absence. It is the last game of the Pittsburgh quarterback's four-game suspension.
By Sam Farmer

September 28, 2010|5:45 p.m.
http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-nfl ... 914.column (http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-nfl-farmer-20100929,0,2541914.column)

Only three teams remain undefeated through the first three weeks of the NFL season — Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Chicago — and each of them missed the playoffs last season.

Although a 3-0 start doesn't necessarily translate into a trip to the postseason, it certainly doesn't hurt. Since 1990, 75.2% (79 of 105) of teams that won their first three games made the playoffs. On the flip side, at least one 3-0 team wound up missing the playoffs in eight of the last 10 seasons.

Regardless, there's plenty of optimism to go around in the league, considering 18 teams are 2-1 or better — a record number at this point in the season.

Of the undefeated teams, the Steelers have the toughest test this weekend, playing host to AFC North rival Baltimore, which has a typically nasty defense. Like Pittsburgh's, the Ravens' defense has allowed just two touchdowns this season (both coming in a victory over Cleveland on Sunday).

Most remarkable about Pittsburgh's run is that it has come without suspended quarterback Ben Roethlisberger — out until the Steelers play host to the Browns on Oct. 17 — and with the next two quarterbacks in line, Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon, both injured. Dixon started the Steelers' first two games but left with a knee injury in the second.

Unflappable Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin said the season has "gone how I expected it to go" but conceded: "I didn't foresee the number of injuries at the quarterback position; that's been the surprise. Had you told me two of the quarterbacks were going to get hurt, I might not have been too optimistic."

Enter journeyman Charlie Batch. He played a spectacular game against surprisingly undefeated Tampa Bay on Sunday, throwing three touchdown passes in a 38-13 victory.

Mostly, though, it's been old-time Steelers football that has prevailed through the first three weeks: a power running game and a devastating defense. The Steelers ran for 201 yards against the Buccaneers, and Pittsburgh's defensive numbers include 10 sacks, five interceptions and just two touchdowns surrendered.

Take into account the Ravens could be without running back Ray Rice (bruised knee) on Sunday, and the Steelers might just hand Roethlisberger a gift-wrapped 4-0 start.

09-29-2010, 01:37 AM
Steelers, Ravens renew pleasantries

By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sport ... tries.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sports_details/article/1373/2010/september/29/steelers-ravens-renew-pleasantries.html)

Wednesday September 29, 2010 12:01 AM

PITTSBURGH — Nasty rivalries have long been part of the NFL. But right now, there’s none nastier than Steelers vs. Ravens.

So says Mike Tomlin.

Now that he’s in his fourth year as coach of the Steelers, Tomlin has been part of enough of these AFC North wars to make such a claim.

Tomlin appreciates other intense rivalries such Dallas vs. Washington or Chicago vs. Green Bay. Still, in the last few seasons, there’s nothing like Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore.

It conjures up memories of the brutal feud the Steelers had with the Raiders in the 1970s.

“There are always fireworks,” Tomlin said. “It’s always significant. It’s football the way it’s supposed to be played.”

The Steelers (3-0) and Ravens (2-1) renew their rivalry Sunday in the marquee game of the NFL’s Week 4 schedule.

Even though they’ve only been playing each other since 1996, it didn’t take long for the two teams to develop a dislike for each other.

Maybe the bitterness developed because the Ravens entered the NFL after the late Art Modell moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore. After all, the Steelers and Browns once used to be bitter rivals.

Maybe the bitterness developed because the Ravens, for much of their existence, played a style of football similar to that of the Steelers, particularly on defense.

Maybe the rivalry developed because of the great Ray Lewis, a trash-talking linebacker who was the first player picked by the Ravens in the ’96 draft.

Among the most memorable moments in the rivalry include Lewis and Steelers linebacker Joey Porter nearly coming to blows during pre-game warm-ups on Sept. 7, 2003 and linebacker Terrell Suggs saying the Ravens had a bounty on Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward prior to the game on Sept. 29, 2008.Years ago when Bill Cowher coached the Steelers and Brian Billick the Ravens, here’s how Ward summed up the rivalry: “The coaches hate each other. The players hate each other … they don’t like us, and we don’t like them ... there’s no need to hide it. They know it and we know it.”

So far, Tomlin is 5-2 against Baltimore.

The first time he was part of the rivalry, Tomlin watched as the Steelers crushed the Ravens 38-7 on a Monday night. But since then, all the games have been close, including two in overtime.

The Steelers beat the Ravens 23-14 in the 2008 AFC Championship Game, but it was only 16-14 until safety Troy Polamalu returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

“They desire to play ball the way we desire to play ball,” Tomlin said. “I think that’s what makes this match-up special. We have a great deal of respect for this outfit. They bring the best out of us. We love playing against them.

“It’s Steelers versus Ravens. It’s humbling to be part of. It’s exciting to be part of it. Hopefully, we’ll prepare level-headed and play level-headed. It’s an emotional game.”

09-29-2010, 01:54 AM
AFC North: Wednesday reset

by Zac Jackson
posted 12:25 a.m.
http://www.foxsportsohio.com/09/29/10/A ... eedID=7342 (http://www.foxsportsohio.com/09/29/10/AFC-North-Wednesday-reset/landing_afcnorth.html?blockID=320555&feedID=7342)

Been tending to basketball matters and away from the football temporarily. But I'm back.

So are the Steelers, who still want you to think they never left. Didn't take long to separate contenders from pretenders in Tampa last weekend, now did it?

It's the really fun -- and really big weekend -- in the AFC North this weekend as the Bengals visit Cleveland and the Ravens visit Pittsburgh. Contenders/pretenders again? Maybe. Some guy named Big Ben comes back shortly and might make the early leaders a different kind of dangerous, especially with Carson Palmer struggling and Joe Flacco struggling except when Eric Wright is in single coverage vs. Anquan Boldin.

Let's size 'em up....

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0)

Last Week: Won at Tampa Bay, 38-13
This week: vs. 2-1 Baltimore

Good News: Another week, another quarterback, another dominating performance. Charlie Batch flung it around with confidence and threw 3 TD passes, while Rashard Mendenhall's running and a defense that toyed with young QB Josh Freeman sealed it. The Steelers are clicking, healthy and bring plenty of momentum into their first brawl with Baltimore this week.

Bad News: Baltimore needs the game and will provide much stiffer competition than the Steelers faced last week. Chris Hoke is iffy with a knee injury. But bad news is currently in short supply in Steelerland.

Quick Fix: There's not a lot to fix. Establishing Mendenhall again this week (and throughout the year) will be important, and Batch will face much a better defense this week as well. It's one the Steelers would love to have but don't necessarily need. If their defense plays to its potential, though, they'll get it and ride into the bye week at 4-0.

Way-Too-Early-Judgment: Some thought last week was a natural letdown spot: Second straight road game, upstart opponent, the Florida heat, the Ravens looming, etc. But instead it was vintage Steeler Football, feeding Mendenhall as expected and riding a superior defense. Baltimore provides a different kind of matchup challenge, but not an insurmountable one. Around the corner are a week off and Roethlisberger's return. As long as this team is healthy it's going to win. A lot.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-1, 1-0 in the division)

Last Week: Won at Carolina, 20-7
This week: At 0-3 Cleveland

Good News: The Bengals defense is playing aggressively and setting up the offense. The special teams play has been steady, and there's reason to think this team can and will keep improving in several areas going forward. The Bengal cornerbacks should be able to clamp the Browns meager receiving corps this week, allowing the safeties and linebackers to focus on stopping the run and winning the field position game in what figures to be a low-scoring game.

Bad News: The passing game stinks. Carson Palmer is missing open targets, Chad Ochocinco is banged up and the Bengals are only scoring touchdowns when set up with premium field position. The Browns really need a win and -- believe it or not -- might be a lot better than the Carolina team the Bengals beat last week.

Quick Fix: Marvin Lewis keeps defending his quarterback, as he should. He should keep giving him chances, too, as the Browns lack defensive speed and got burned by the big play last week. There's nothing wrong with winning ugly and the Bengals should embrace that. If they don't beat themselves, they'll have a chance to stack up some wins.

Way-Too-Early-Judgment: Still too early to panic, still too early to love what you see, still winning. That's good. Cedric Benson is good enough to keep the chains moving and let the defense rest. The overall talent is good enough to escape Cleveland 3-1. Let's see what happens.

Baltimore Ravens (2-1, 1-1 in the division)

Last Week: Survived Cleveland, 24-17
This Week: At Pittsburgh

Good News: Joe Flacco is upright and has a performance to build on. Ray Rice took to Twitter to say his knee contusion should be fine. The Ravens clicked when they needed to last week and though they have to be much better this week, their track record says they're capable of a muscle-flexing victory.

Bad News: The O-line isn't allowing Rice many chances at getting loose and has to withstand the Steelers monstrous pass rush this week. The defense got punched in the mouth by the Browns power running game. A loss this week would essentially put them 2.5 games behind the division lead and in third place regardless of what happens in the other game.

Quick Fix: Stop the run and win in the trenches Sunday. Get Flacco and Rice going early, hit some short stuff and hope Flacco doesn't really get pounded. This team has the talent and leadership to win this game if it circles the wagons. It still has the right to improve, too. But this is a very big week.

Way-Too-Early-Judgment: Not sure what to make of last week: Slight letdown or slightly overrated? If this team's going anywhere, Flacco (1-4 vs. PIT in his career) still has to be better. There are still positive signs, and the patchwork secondary has held up well. The good Ravens teams of the past have won in this spot, and there's still enough season left if they don't.

Cleveland Browns (0-3)

Last Week: Lost at Baltimore, 24-17
This Week: vs. Cincinnati

Good News: Peyton Hillis is a beast. Joshua Cribbs keeps fighting, and lots of other guys do, too. The Browns can win this week because they're at home, need it badly and -- if they're built to win at all -- they're built to win the kind of close game this week's figures to be.

Bad News: They're 0-3 for many reasons. They can't match the Bengals talent and are about to face the best secondary they've faced all season with a passing offense that's barely existent. The future looks, well, it looks like this: Cincinnati, Atlanta, at Pittsburgh, at New Orleans, bye week. It's brutal. Losing D'Qwell Jackson for the season and having Jerome Harrison, Shaun Rogers and Marcus Benard miss last week certainly didn't help.

Quick Fix: Keep feeding Hillis. Keep feeding Cribbs, just double-up the sideline oxygen. Trust that Eric Wright is much better than he showed last week. Find a way to create a pass rush, which probably starts with containing Cedric Benson and making Palmer pass. Cribbs, Hillis, the front seven and Phil Dawson can win a game for them this week. But the Browns can't turn the ball over.

Way-Too-Early-Judgment: Not too early in this case. Not enough talent. Too many coaching blunders and player brain-farts in big moments to overcome that talent deficiency. Probably should stick with the mobile Seneca Wallace this week and not even test the cornerbacks, but we'll see. It's really now-or-forget-about-it on many levels this week, so it's worth watching.

09-29-2010, 09:15 AM
Week 4 games to watch in the NFL
Charlie Batch, Mike Wallace

The surprising 3-0 Steelers take on the rugged Ravens in Baltimore,

Pretty sure it's in Pittsburgh this go round.

09-29-2010, 10:17 PM
Week 4 games to watch in the NFL
Charlie Batch, Mike Wallace

The surprising 3-0 Steelers take on the rugged Ravens in Baltimore,

Pretty sure it's in Pittsburgh this go round.
Lets not get caught up in facts

09-29-2010, 10:28 PM

09-29-2010, 10:42 PM
Please note my sig. I like dead birds. At least the kind that we beat on the football field.

:ratsuck :ratsuck

:tt1 :tt2

09-29-2010, 11:57 PM
AHHHH, yes it is....






(Ratbirds suck)




09-30-2010, 12:10 AM
A true rivalry

By Teresa Varley
http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/ ... dd45c5ebe4 (http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/A-true-rivalry/a5c43f81-f340-452f-a2ff-7cdd45c5ebe4)

Coach Mike Tomlin called the Steelers-Ravens rivalry the best in football during his weekly press conference.

Others agreed with him, including Ravens Coach John Harbaugh.

“I think it is,” said Harbaugh during a conference call. “Maybe he and I are biased because we are in it all of the time, but I don’t see a better one out there. It’s a great rivalry and it is an honor to be a part of it.’

When the teams go against each other on Sunday at Heinz Field, there will be no love lost. But before and afterward, there is plenty of respect.

“It’s a lot of hate there on the field,” said linebacker James Harrison. “On the field anything that is legal in between the white lines is all game. After that it’s all respect. That’s just how it is between any NFL teams. That’s how it should be.

“I hate losing to them. I hate losing to anybody, but to them it’s a lot worse.”

The two teams play similar styles of football, know each other well and play in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL

“You have to respect them,” said quarterback Charlie Batch. “That’s why it gets so much attention. There have been a lot of great battles. The teams are built the same, defensively solid and big on running the football. You know what you are going to get.”

* * *

Ravens running back Ray Rice didn’t practice on Wednesday, sidelined with a knee injury, but the Steelers don’t think for a minute that he won’t play on Sunday.

“He’s going to play,” said linebacker James Harrison. “I don’t expect him not to play. A knee contusion isn’t going to stop him. It’s the Steelers. You get geeked for that. You aren’t going to let a little knee contusion stop you from playing.”

The defense is preparing to face Rice knowing full well he wants to play in the game.

“He is a competitor. He is a gamer,” said safety Ryan Clark. “We know Ray is going to play. He is a big part of the team. We are going to prepare as such.”

Rice, who was injured against Cleveland, has 52 carries for 210 yards so far this season and stopping him is going to be a key for defense.

“We have to stay gap-sound and wrap him up,” said Harrison. “He’s short, but he is still strong. We have to stay gap-sound and be in the positions that we’re supposed to be in and not be out of position.’

* * *

The Steelers ground game was in full effect last week, with 201 yards on the ground. The offensive line got some much deserved credit for the performance.

“They knew coming into the season we wanted to run the football more,” said Batch of the offensive line. “They wanted to be more physical up front and they took that as a challenge. They put a lot of hard work into everything you are seeing now. It’s not something you just see on Sunday, that you just show up. They are putting a lot of the leg work in during the course of the week, extra meeting time, staying on the field longer and you are seeing the results show up.”

09-30-2010, 12:13 AM
Steelers-Ravens Conference Calls

http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/ ... ad1b959df5 (http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/Steelers-Ravens-Conference-Calls/02e05a30-061e-4612-afa0-1fad1b959df5)




RE: Coach Tomlin calling the Steelers vs. Ravens rivalry the best in football:

I agree. I think it is. Maybe he and I are biased because we are in it all of the time, but I don’t see a better one out there. It’s a great rivalry and it is an honor to be a part of it.

What makes it unique?

I think it’s two teams that know each other very well, play very similar style. It always means a lot every game we play and we always play great games.

Re: the offense without Santonio Holmes:

I really haven’t seen much difference. They have Mike Wallace in there. They drafted him a couple of years ago from Ole Miss. We liked him as well. He has been even better than advertised. He fits that role a little bit. They still have Hines Ward and Heath Miller. They just have a lot of good players that make plays for them.

Do you think teams might be questioning your run defense after the Cleveland game?

Sure. Absolutely.

Are you questioning your run defense?

You just have to play every week. We will find out, it’s based on what you do week to week. It is a week to week league.

Re: the challenges of defending Rashard Mendenhall?

Big challenge. Rashard is obviously very gifted, very patient, great vision, great burst. I think he compliments their offensive line very well. I think they have crafted their run game around their offensive line and Rashard. It’s a good match and that is why they have had success.

How is Ray Lewis able to play at such a high level after all of these years?

I think you probably have a good example in James Farrior. It’s too linebackers that have probably done it longer than any two guys have that I am aware of at that level. Ray is a guy that we are very proud of. He is very talented and he works very hard at it in all ways, physically, intellectually and he is very passionate about football.

Is it his preparation?

He studies the game. You can put James (Farrior) in the same category, knowing the position so well, it doesn’t take him a lot to know what he is looking for week to week because he has been doing it for so long. He does a great job, breaking down the points and he has seen most schemes and most of the players before.

Re: Joe Flacco’s ability to bounce back last week:

That was encouraging, he’s done that before, it’s nothing that has surprised us. I think Joe is in the earlier stages of his career, but you got a glimpse of what his character is, what his competiveness is like, what kind of quarterback he is going to be down the road. He is not going to get down on himself and he is not going to let one tough outing dictate another tough outing.

How close are Joe and the new wide receivers getting into a rhythm coaches like to see?

We’ll see. We are on the way there. It’s not like they have been together for years and years. With Anquan Boldin, he had an offseason which was really helpful. Obviously Joe and (Derrick) Mason have been together for a long time. Bringing T.J. (Houshmandzadeh) into the mix, kind of tying the whole thing together is something you have to work to do, but those guys are veteran receivers and I think that helps.

Re: Ray Rice’s health:

Process is he is going, he is working at it. There is no way to predict how guys are going to heal from any of these things so we will just have to see.

What’s going on with Stanford?

They are kicking butt and taking names. They are kicking so much butt I don’t know if they have time to take names. I am proud of them, they could play in this rivalry too, I think with the football they are playing.

Why was Ray Rice so good last year against Pittsburgh?

He was really good against pretty much anybody. There weren’t too many games where he didn’t have good games and even in the games where he struggled at times, he was a heart beat away from breaking some things. So I think he is just a good player, playing well. Obviously not too many guys have great success against Pittsburgh and I don’t think he had any great amount of success but it’s just Ray being Ray I think.

Because he is so good at what he does, does your offense change without him in there or do you have capable backs that can do the same thing?

You guys know the backs and you know who we play with and you know what those guys can do and there isn’t really anything they aren’t capable of doing, they can catch the ball, they can block and run. They are different style guys obviously, everyone has their own unique way of doing it, just like Pittsburgh’s backs. But yeah, we run our offense.

What is it like seeing the Steelers 3-0 and this game being a big game as usually only four weeks in?

I don’t know what it is like, if you are looking for a metaphor, I don’t have one. We knew they were going to be a good team. I half joked with our guys on Monday, I was kind of serious because they can forge these things sometimes, but they asked us in the summer we thought and we said they were going to be a very good team whoever plays quarterback for them. That’s been proven, it was proven last year and I don’t think anyone in football is too surprised by it. I think the fans maybe sometimes get caught up with a guy or two, but that is a good team and that is why they are doing well.

Your take on Flacco’s development now and having Coach Zorn as your quarterbacks coach?

Well Jim (Zorn) is a valuable addition and he brings a wealth of experience both playing and coaching to the position. New ideas, obviously for Joe and for Cam (Cameron), so he has been really helpful with Joe. We are just trying to go week from week and do the best we can to win a game with Joe.


RE: Coach Tomlin calling the Steelers vs. Ravens rivalry the best in football:

I think it’s the best in the way both teams play football. You look around the league and look around at everything that’s going on. They know what they can do, and we know what we can do. It’s one thing to just talk about each other, but it’s another thing to talk about what we do against other people. It’s not an argument, it’s just the way both of us feel that this is the best rivalry in football.

Have you played in any games against other teams that are as violent as the ones you play against the Steelers?

I couldn’t think of one, but if I did it would be against Tennessee. When they were in our division we always would go back-and-forth. Two times a year, I don’t think there’s been a more aggressive rivalry than this one.

Are you surprised the way the offense has played without Ben Roethlisberger?

No, I’m really not. Ben is a huge part but at the same time, but if there’s one thing they’ve always done, and this is 15 years I’ve played against them, they’ve always stuck to their identity. That’s the thing that makes them a very difficult team to beat. They’re not going to change who they are. They’re going to play hard-nosed defense. They are going to run the ball very well. They’re always going to do the things to be very successful.

Is the rivalry based on how similar the two teams are?

I think that’s most of it, outside of being in the same division. We’re so similar, definitely defensively as far as the way we play football. We just like to get after people, and we play the same way. They play with a chip on their shoulder; we play with a chip on our shoulder. There are many similarities.

Can two teams dislike each other yet respect one another?

I think that’s what it comes down to. I think it comes from the level of respect. This is not like any other game. When you play somebody else you get yourselves up a different way. When you play this team you don’t need no extra motivation. That’s why over the years you’ve seen it one way, strap it up and get ready to go.

RE: Rashard Mendenhall and how he has progressed:

What I’ve seen of him now, he’s running the ball very well. He’s very patient and he’s really making people miss. If you watch him he’s kind of showing glimpses of what he did in college. Pittsburgh’s been looking for that back since they lost “The Bus” years ago. He’s a complete back now, and they’re really getting him involved in that package.

Will these two defenses be illegal in about four or five years?

We’re almost illegal now the way we play. That goes to the respect the way both defenses carry their jobs and how important we make it. If you watch the way they play and the way we play, they don’t worry about and we don’t worry about all the extra stuff. It comes, but the bottom line is we are going to make you play a physical football game and they’ll pretty much do the same thing.

How are you and James Farrior able to still play at a high level after all these years?

I talk to James Farrior. When you still love the game and you take care of your body, and you understand the business a certain way. I think that playing for a long time, it then starts to become, I don’t want to say easy because the game is always changing, but it becomes more defined on you understanding how to take care of yourself, how to feel good week in and week out. Not wasting energy and time, you have to give credit to guys who can go that long like James Farrior because we play a very, very physical position. They ask how you can keep coming back. I take that as a credit the way he and me take care of ourselves.

What do you like to think you bring to the defense?

The greatest thing I bring is total leadership, just being who I am, going out there and getting my players lined up, making sure we are communicating and seeing everything. Getting that mentality a certain way, understanding that there is no I, there’s only we. Everything just transcends into what the game is really formed upon is brotherhood. It’s just a strong brotherhood. And I am the big brother for this brotherhood.

Will there be rivalries like this one ten years from now even though offense is taking over the game?

I just think the game is always going to be the game. But I think there’s not always going to be those legendary physical-type teams because everybody wants to see the scoreboard lit up.

RE: Stopping the run this week:

Any coach who watches the tape and sees what happened, they are talking about one or two easy adjustments one or two of our players have to make. We did make more emphasis on whether there was a scheme or there was one or two players here or there. Just make that play, don’t come backside, just stay outside and make that play. We corrected it as soon as we saw the tape. We definitely adjusted properly.

What’s it like playing at Heinz Field where everyone is completely against you?

I think the fans carry their own swagger. It’s just a legendary myth of Pittsburgh. I was a kid watching the Steelers and saw that stuff going on. Every time I step on the field the legends live. I know that mystery you always thought about. You feel that when you go out there. If you are playing the linebacker position and you go out there and you don’t feel that, then you haven’t kept up with football. I kept up with football. The Steelers have always had a great tradition since the beginning of time.

How much longer can you play?

I don’t know man. I don’t want to be rude saying that I am tired of answering that question, but I don’t know. I just want to keep playing football. As long as I am playing at a high level, nothing else matters. I don’t worry about anything else except trying to help my team week-to-week and trying to get back to the Super Bowl.

RE: What Ben Roethlisberger is going through since you faced a similar transition back to the NFL:

Our situations were totally different. The advice that I give him, I text him and he texts me, and things like that. It’s a respect for each other, but more importantly it’s a respect for yourself. You’re not trying to please the world. If you try to please the world you are going to confuse yourself. If you’re going to worry about what people say about you, you’re going to confuse yourself. All you got to do is move on, live on. Whatever he put behind him as a man and what he put behind him for what he’s going through leave it there. Don’t let nobody pull you back into it. Don’t let nobody keep talking about it. Once it’s done it’s done.

Did he text you or did you text him?

He hit me up last night. We always hit each other up like many people out here. It’s just simple stuff. He wishes he was out there. It’s a respect thing that we have playing against each other. It’s a rivalry but it goes back to the level of respect. This is not the first time he texted me. We texted each other every time when he was going through what he was going through. I told him I was there for him. It’s more of a brotherhood. The game always takes care of himself on the field. But off the field, if we don’t look out for each other nobody else will.

RE: The relationship between the two franchises and between you and Ben:

If we both get it, we both get it. Every time we line up from across each other he touches his heart and I touch my heart. It’s a pure level of respect even with Hines Ward, LaMarr Woodley, even when we see each other meeting at the Pro Bowl. The first thing we talk about is that rivalry. There’s nothing like it. There’s nothing like when they come here and we go there. We know what we’re going to get and neither side is going to disappoint each other.

RE: Bounties on this game:

I don’t even know what bounties represent. If you are looking for one person to place a bounty on someone you are in trouble. It’s a whole swarm of Steelers coming to play football come Sunday and a whole swarm of Ravens. There are no personal bounties on nobody.

How is Ray Rice doing?

I don’t know what his knee feels like so I can’t even speak on that.

09-30-2010, 12:15 AM
Starkey: Steelers-Ravens Greatest Hits
Thursday, September 30, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 01919.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_701919.html)

Hines always tells us he's trying to knock somebody's soul out of their body. — Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor.

I like that quote. I remember the question, too. I asked Taylor a few years ago if he might enlighten me on teammate Hines Ward's approach to the game, particularly the physical part of it and Ward's feelings toward the Baltimore Ravens.

The feelings, of course, are mutual and might best be described as a potent mix of revulsion and respect.

It is a rare rivalry that resumes at 1 p.m. Sunday, when the Ravens visit Heinz Field.

These teams aren't into the arena-style football that has come to plague the NFL. They don't play under a roof on a living-room carpet with the thermostat set to 72.5, rolling up points like a pinball machine. They play outdoors, in sun and rain and mud and snow, and bash each other's skulls in. More often than not, defense rules the day.

Some of us prefer it that way.

Mike Tomlin was dead-on Tuesday when he labeled Steelers-Ravens "the best rivalry in the NFL." I wonder if it's also a dying breed, the kind of rivalry we won't see in 10 or 20 years, by which time quarterbacks will play with flags in their belts and tackling will be only semi-legal.

"We're almost illegal now, the way we play," said Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, speaking Wednesday of both defenses. "I don't know if you'll see the legendary, physical-type teams (anymore), 'cause everybody wants to see the scoreboard lit up."

Until then, brutality rules when these two teams meet. So here's a six-pack of hits that have helped to define the series:

›› Nov. 5, 2007: James Harrison plants Ed Reed like a javelin. This was a coming-out party for Ravens reject Harrison, who went nuts with nine tackles, 3 1/2 sacks, three forced fumbles, a recovered fumble and a terrifying takedown of Reed on a punt return. Ravens defensive end Trevor Pryce said he knew it wasn't Baltimore's night "when a little, 5-9 linebacker (Harrison actually is listed at 6 feet) gets four sacks. That will never happen again in his life." I immediately relayed the words to Harrison.

His response: "Who's Trevor Pryce?"

›› Sept. 19, 2004: Gary Baxter injures Tommy Maddox. It wasn't a highlight-reel hit when the Ravens' cornerback combined with Terrell Suggs to pop Tommy Gun. But it did change the course of Steelers history. In came rookie Ben Roethlisberger, who suffered a rude introduction to pro football. Afterward, he said, "I'm not Tommy Maddox; can't be Tommy Maddox. I'm just going to do the best I can."

›› Jan. 18, 2009: Ryan Clark sends Willis McGahee to the hospital. The hit — deemed a clean one — knocked both men silly and epitomized what had to be one of the most violent conference title games ever played. Clark made it off the field. McGahee did not; he was carried away in a medical flatbed cart. Clark didn't want to talk much about the play yesterday — he believes too much has been made of it — but said, "It was a clean hit, and you're always looking to make hits like that."

›› Sept. 29, 2008: Ray Lewis snaps Rashard Mendenhall's shoulder blade in half. Lewis met Mendenhall straight-on and put a quick and pitiless end to his rookie season.

›› Nov. 26, 2006: Bart Scott annihilates Big Ben. Untouched off the left end, Scott delivered a shot Roethlisberger called the hardest he'd ever absorbed. Scott said "it felt good to hear the air leave (Roethlisberger's) body." Steelers tackle Willie Colon was watching from the sideline that day. "One of the worst hits I've ever seen," he recalled. "But that's what this series is about — one shot after another."

›› Nov. 5, 2007: Ward blasts Ed Reed and Bart Scott. With some of the legendary figures in Steelers history watching from the sidelines, Ward lit up Reed on a Hines-side hit in the middle of the field and later blasted Scott on the sidelines. That led to Scott vowing to "kill" Ward and to talk of the Ravens putting a bounty on Ward the following season.

Nobody was surprised.

Get ready for another soul-knocker Sunday.

09-30-2010, 12:19 AM
Special Steelers-Ravens week chat with the Post-Gazette and Baltimore Sun
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Baltimore Sun Sports: Welcome to our Ravens-Steelers chat with Baltimore Sun sports editor Ron Fritz and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports editor Jerry Micco. Ron and Jerry will join us at 1 p.m., but feel free to submit your questions now.

Ron Fritz: Warming up for the big chat. Let's keep it civil Steelers fans.

smoke1964: Who do you think wins the battle between the Steelers running game and the Ravens D?

Jerry Micco: See, right away he assumes Steelers fans won't be civil! Hi Ron, how's things in one of my favorite cities?

Ron Fritz: Hey Jerry. My parents are Steelers fans so I know all about them! Things are good.

Ron Fritz: Ravens D wins the battle. Last year Mendenall went for 131 yards on 41 carries in two games.

Sam: Jerry, thanks for taking the time for this chat. What weaknesses (aside from the muddled QB situation) do you see in the Pittsburgh team?

Jerry Micco: The Steelers defense has been magnificent the first three games. No reason that stops on Sunday.

Jerry Micco: People are still concerned about the secondary and the depth at RB is very thin. If Mendenhall goes down, they become very one-dimensional. And while the offensive line has played well, that's still an area I'm concerned about.

Tim (Hagerstown): If Ray Rice is unable to play on Sunday, will the Ravens use the combination of McGahee and McLain at RB. I would love to see McLain get more carries.

Ron Fritz: Rice isn't practicing today. McGahee will get bulk of carries, but don't be surprised if McClain gets 10-15.

Steve: What do you think the difference is in both of these 2 teams and why PB seems to have RAVENS #?

Jerry Micco: I think the teams are mirror images, which is the main reason it has become the best rivalry in the NFL. I think the Steelers, when Ben is at QB, might have a better offense.

Ron Fritz: The Steelers get to the QB and Ravens don't. Sometimes, Ravens lose offensive identity and forget to run ball. Pittsburgh keeps it simple. They play smashmouth football.

Scott: Jerry, How do you think Legursky did in comparison to what Essex has done the past year or so?

Jerry Micco: Legursky played well in Tampa and Mike Tomlin said yesterday that he may stay there even if Essex is healthy. Essex says he can play. We'll see.

sport: Does Trevor Price being cut mean that they are planning to bring someone new to the team. How locked in are the Steelers to Batch. in case he has trouble on Sunday.

Ron Fritz: Pryce being cut means Cody or Divens will see action. Ravens re-signed safety Ken Hamlin, but I think Ravens wanted more beef on line and Pryce wasn't getting to QB.

Jerry Micco: I think the Steelers are committed to Batch and will stick with him, but if he starts out with a couple picks, Leftwich, apparently, is near 100 percent, so they'd go with him if necessary.

Drew: Gentlemen, First off., thanks for your time. It seems to me that the team that disrupts the other's QB the most will win this game ... That and maybe the secondary play. Any other thoughts or opinions?

Jerry Micco: If the Steelers can bring heat and force turnovers like they have in the first 3 games, they are going to be tough to beat especially at home. And the secondary is much better with Polamalu healthy. Though, that unit still makes you cringe at times.

Ron Fritz: Thanks Drew. You are absolutely right. If Steelers get to Flacco, Ravens lose. If Ravens can't fluster Batch, Steelers have enough good WRs to make life miserable for Ravens secondary.

FlaccoStoleMyGirlfriend: We all know Pittsburgh likes to blitz, but do you guys (especially the Post-Gazette guys) see them backing off and playing more zone, especially the cover-2. Considering the problems Mr. Flacco has had with zone coverages, and the fact Mr. Flacco seems to excel against Man coverage? Long-winded question, I know. Thank you in advance.

Ron Fritz: Steelers will bring everything but an old steel mill at Flacco. They won't change.

Ron Fritz: Flacco will rue the day he stole your girlfriend.

Jerry Micco: No problem. The Steelers like to blitz as part of the many-faceted defense of Dick LeBeau. But there are times when he won't blitz for an entire series. I think a lot of LeBeau's success is being able to hide blitzes and coverages then springing it on someone. Flacco is a guy they know, so they know what his strong and weak points are.

bsteel: Jerry: Any monicker for the Steelers D yet? What say you about The Medieval D? It's reminiscent of an 11th century army with broad swords, maces, and ironclad horses leaving in their wake a battlefield strewn with the body parts of a vanquished foe...sorry, I didn't mean to frighten the birdies into not showing up. I want to witness the carnage.

Ron Fritz: Bsteel ... I have a nickname, but this is a family chat so I won't print it.

Jerry Micco: Sounds like you were just at a renaissance fair. I think they'll develop an entire new identity by season's end. If they keep playing this well, they'll just be a Terror.

The Chief: Ron, has Coach Zorn had a positive or negative effect on Flacco?

Ron Fritz: Dear Chief ... I'd like to say a positive effect, but Flacco still throws some awful passes and his mechanics stink at times.

Mark: Ron and Jerry, wasn't the Ravens' secondary, without Ed Reed, supposed to be a weak link? Why do you think they are #1 against the pass?

Jerry Micco: First of all, any defense without Ed Reed is not as good as a defense with him.

Ron Fritz: Mark, The Ravens D has been exceptional despite not putting much heat on the QB. They haven't forced turnovers, which is where Mr. Reed comes in. The secondary has stepped up with Reed and Foxworth.

Ron Steele: Who wins the matchup between Ike Taylor and Anquan Boldin?

Ron Fritz: Ron Steele, Boldin wins it hands down. He's been a beast so far. The Steelers will double-team him.

Jerry Micco: Taylor is the Steelers version of a shutdown corner. He's a very solid player. Boldin probably wins it, but as a possession guy, Boldin plays to Taylor's wheelhouse.

James_Taiwan: Ron, what Steelers' player is most hated by Baltimore fans?

Ron Fritz: Hines Ward, with Big Ben Roethlisberger right there. This past summer might have vaulted Big Ben past Ward.

Jerry Micco: Big Ben may be the most hated by Steelers fans too after the March through Georgia...

Ron Fritz: But seriously, is there any likable Steeler?

Jerry Micco: How can you not like Troy Polamalu. Must be the hair.

Ron Fritz: I have hair envy.

Ron Fritz: Jerry, do you and Troy use the same barber?

Jerry Micco: How long does it take to cut 10 hairs? All I got left.

Ron Fritz: But they are a nice 10 hairs.

BlastFurnace: Charlie Batch threw two interceptions and had two more touchdown throws that most would agree should have been picked off. It seems that Coach T was trying to send a message to his team by starting Batch over Leftwich this week. I understand the value of teaching your backup players to continue to work hard and remain prepared because there is no way to tell when they will be called into action. Do you feel that this is the best time for the coaching staff to be engaging in a "teachable moment" philosophy?

Ron Fritz: I think the Steelers staff should have some teachable moments with Rex Ryan and the Jets staff.

Jerry Micco: While Batch's performance won't make anyone forget Tom Brady, he was good when he had to be. The second pick was when it was 38-13 and while the TDs weren't pretty, they were TDs. And both times the WR was behind the secondary and the ball got there. If Batch can manage a game, Tomlin will turn it over to the defense.

smo: Any thoughts on how the QB situation will play out after Roethlisberger returns? Dixon to IR, Leftwich released?

Jerry Micco: I'm going to guess Dixon to IR, but would not be surprised to see either Batch or Leftwich released.

KS Steeler: Ron, do you if McGahee remembers the hit he took in the 08 AFC Championship game? Seriously, does he remember it?

Jerry Micco: I thought Ryan Clark had killed him. I was in the press box that game and heard the hit. Ouch.

Ron Fritz: KS Steeler, I think he's seen it on film and has tried to remember it.

Ron Fritz: Or forget it.

The Yinz Man: Any concerns about Flacco down there, his immobility makes him a sitting target against the Steelers Blitzes. How can he beat the Steelers passing the ball when he can't move in the pocket?

Ron Fritz: Ten days ago people were calling for Marc Bulger, then Flacco lit up the Browns (who hasn't). He's mobile enough, but he needs to make much-quicker decisions.

The Chief: Ron, With the Orioles becoming the Pirates of the AL and no NHL team, how much more important is it to Baltimore for the Ravens to be successful ?

Jerry Micco: From 2 World Series as opponents in my lifetime, it's sad to see the Bucs and O's scraping bottom.

Ron Fritz: Chief, it's extremely important for the Ravens to be good, especially for the newspaper business. But the O's are coming back under Buck Showalter. They won't reach the Pirates' state of futility.

Rick: Who is the Steelers nickel DB and can he cover Housh?

Jerry Micco: The nickle back is William Gay, who was a starting corner last year. Housh is a guy he knows well, so I think that'll be a good matchup. The Steelers goal, though, is to not give Flacco the time to find a receiver.

Jon Smith: Who has the edge regarding special teams

Ron Fritz: The Ravens have been very good early in the season with special teams. They shut down Cribbs. I don't think the Steelers allow themselves to be beaten by special teams. I'd say it's a toss-up.

Jerry Micco: The Steelers are much improved from that standpoint. Jeff Reed is a very good kicker in a stadium that's tough to kick in. By the way, if I can tout some breaking news, Ray Lewis told Pittsburgh writers today that he and Big Ben have been texting each other still, as recently as yesterday. It's on our web site, post-gazette.com.

Crabby Patty: Is McGahee still on the trading block? He would look good in black and gold as a backup to Mendenhall?

Jerry Micco: I'd agree. Love to get a guy like McGahee.

Ron Fritz: Crabby Patty, I'd say that Willis is a Raven through the rest of the season.

Sean: Do you think Hines Ward will tear the Ravens up as he has in the past?

Ron Fritz: Hines who? Yeah, he could have a big day if the Ravens don't get some heat on Batch. But Wallace is the guy who could kill them deep.

Jerry Micco: I think Ward gets up for the Ravens and will have his normal day. Six catches, 95 yards and a TD. And maybe knock someone's head off. Typical day at the office for him.

Jeremy: Anybody think all three AFC North powerhouses will make the playoffs?

Ron Fritz: They seriously could depending on the Texans and Patriots.

Jerry Micco: I'm a bit wobbly now on Cincinnati, who I thought might win the division. Pittsburgh, to me, is the surprise. I had them 9-7. Obviously, I'd not make a career in Vegas.

KS Steeler: Thanks for this, it has been fun. Give predictions, by how much do you think the Steelers will win?

Jerry Micco: No problem, KS, one of my regular chat folks. I like the Steelers 17-13.

Ron Fritz: KS Steeler, Hold on. I think it's 17-14 either way. Depends on turnovers. Ravens could easily win this game, though.

Baltimore Sun Sports: Thanks for joining today's live Ravens-Steelers chat with Baltimore Sun sports editor Ron Fritz and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports editor Jerry Micco. Good luck to both teams this weekend as the 2010 edition of the rivalry kicks off. Special thanks to Ron and Jerry for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer some questions.

Ron Fritz: Thanks Jerry, hope to see you soon. Bring the Iron Citys and kielbasa and I'll bring Natty Bohs and crabcakes. This has been a blast.

Jerry Micco: No problem, glad to do it. Thanks everyone for taking the time to chat. Ron, see you around the bend. Have a good one!

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10272/10 ... z10z1D3znY (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10272/1091234-66.stm#ixzz10z1D3znY)

09-30-2010, 09:30 AM
Take into account the Ravens could be without running back Ray Rice (bruised knee) on Sunday, and the Steelers might just hand Roethlisberger a gift-wrapped 4-0 start.

Take into account that the Steelers have already held the league's top running back under 50, as well as another top back.

Ray Rice may not be the key to this game, and may not be the right excuse when Big Ben returns to a 4-0 team.

09-30-2010, 03:10 PM
On the Steelers: Ravens week quiet so far

Thursday, September 30, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Peter Diana/Post-Gazette
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis on the rival Steelers: "There are no personal bounties on nobody."

It's a good thing Steelers coach Mike Tomlin reminded everyone that the twice, sometimes thrice annual games against the Ravens represent "the best rivalry in the National Football League." Otherwise, someone might mistake the atmosphere surrounding the game this week for "Joanie Loves Chachi."

Where's the passion? All we're getting is stuff like Ray Lewis talking about Ben Roethlisberger sending him text messages, seeking his counsel while he is suspended. Or a lot of talk about "mutual respect" for each other.

Where are all the bounties the Ravens once crowed about putting out on some Steelers?

"I don't even know what bounties represent," said Lewis, the mightiest and nastiest Raven of them all. "If you are looking for one person to place a bounty on someone you are in trouble. It's a whole swarm of Steelers coming to play football come Sunday and a whole swarm of Ravens. There are no personal bounties on nobody."

A swarm? Like bumblebees? These teams have attacked each other in the past with night sticks and brass knuckles. Joey Porter once chased after Baltimore's team bus at Heinz Field, looking for Ray Lewis. Another time, Porter pulled such a dirty trick on Ravens tight end Todd Heap that his own coach publicly called him out on it.

The Ravens still are not over some of Hines Ward's blocks. The great Rod Woodson once screamed at Ward for blocking him in Baltimore. And Roethlisberger was never hit harder nor sacked more often than by Ravens, including one memorable one by Bart Scott.

Even Rashard Mendenhall got into the act as a rookie before he made his first start in 2008 against Baltimore. He sent a text to Ray Rice predicting a big game for himself. On his 10th carry in his first start in his second NFL game, Mendenhall left his rookie season for good with a broken shoulder after a tackle by Lewis.

Wednesday, Mendenhall went on a conference call with the media in Baltimore that lasted about three minutes, reporting to someone that he gave them nothing this time.

You would think Steelers linebacker James Harrison could work up a good passion for these Ravens. After all, they cut him in 2004 after about four days upon his return to them from NFL Europe. Did he hate them more because of that?

"I mean the Steelers let me go three times too," Harrison said. "So I don't think so."

Ben and Ray
Roethlisberger has been communicating with Lewis for a while, most recently Tuesday night, five days before the Steelers play the Ravens at Heinz Field.

"He texted me last night, and things like that," Lewis said on a conference call Wednesday. "It's a respect we have for each other, but more importantly it's a respect you got to have for yourself."

Lewis said he and Roethlisberger have been in contact throughout the Steelers quarterback's ordeal that began March 5 when he was accused by a 20-year-old female college student of sexual assault in Milledgeville, Ga. Roethlisberger was suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for the first four games of the season as a result under the league's personal conduct policy. Roethlisberger can return to the team Monday.

He has been prohibited from visiting the team facility or talking strategy with players or coaches, but he is permitted to chat with them.

"He hit me last night," Lewis said, talking about the text message he received from Roethlisberger. "We always hit each other. There are many people I hit. Just simple stuff.

"He wishes he was out there, he wishes he was out there man. It's a respect thing that we have playing against each other. It's a rivalry, but, once again, it goes back to a level of respect.

"This ain't the first time he texted me. We texted each other whenever he was going through what he was going through, I was there for him. It's more of a brotherhood. The game always takes care of itself on the field, but, off the field, if we don't look out for each other, nobody else will."

Lewis himself overcame a scandal after he was charged with murder after the Super Bowl in Atlanta in 2000. The murder charge was dropped after Lewis agreed to testify against two other men and pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice.

He said he advised Roethlisberger to put his troubles behind him and move ahead.

"You're not trying to please the world, if you're trying to please the world you're going to confuse yourself," Lewis said. "If you're going to worry what people say about you, you're going to confuse yourself.

"All you can do is move on, live on and whatever he puts behind him as a man, and he puts behind him whatever he's going through, leave it there. Don't let nobody pull you back into it, don't let nobody make you keep talking about it. Once it's done, it's done."

Steelers expect to see Rice
Baltimore's Ray Rice, the only opponent to top 100 yards rushing against the Steelers in the past 37 games, did not practice Wednesday because of a bruised knee.

The Steelers, though, believe Rice will play Sunday, so much so that rookie Jonathan Dwyer, wearing No. 27 (his own and that of Rice's) said he played Rice on the scout team Wednesday.

"He's going to play," Harrison declared. "I don't expect him not to play. A knee contusion shouldn't stop anyone. It's the Steelers, you know? You get geeked for that. That's not something where you're going to let a little contusion stop you from playing in that game."

An elusive 4-0 start
The last time the Steelers started 4-0?

"I don't know," tight end Heath Miller said. "It's been awhile."

So much so that Miller was not born. In fact, 42 of the Steelers' 53-man roster was not born in 1979, the last time they won their first four games.

What's the benefit of such a strong start? The Steelers won their fourth Super Bowl after the 1979 season. They also won their first four in 1978, extending it to 7-0 and won their third Super Bowl.

"Certainly, all the games count," Miller said. "So, if you can knock out three as we have or, hopefully, after this weekend, four, then we'll go into the bye week as good as we possibly could."

Easier practices
Tomlin has eased way back on his Wednesday practices the past two weeks, so much so that even Hines Ward has practiced in each of them.

The players have worn no shoulder pads and the practices have been light.

"It's something coach Tomlin started last week; he wanted to not grind us on Wednesday but take the team and take a different approach, with guys responding very good," Ward said. "Last week, we didn't have any mental errors. I think that was probably the best mental-error [game] since I've been here."

''It's a whole swarm of Steelers coming to play football come Sunday and a whole swarm of Ravens."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10273/10 ... z112cy79A1 (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10273/1091468-66.stm#ixzz112cy79A1)

09-30-2010, 07:11 PM
How I despise the ratbirds....


09-30-2010, 07:28 PM
How I despise the ratbirds....


On the other hand, that security guard seems to have taken a liking to one particular Ratbird...


The classics never die. :lol:

09-30-2010, 07:36 PM
How I despise the ratbirds....


On the other hand, that security guard seems to have taken a liking to one particular Ratbird...


The classics never die. :lol:


09-30-2010, 08:02 PM
Ravens mission vs. Steelers: Stop the pass rush

By Ken Murray, The Baltimore Sun
4:24 p.m. EDT, September 30, 2010

The visual of LaMarr Woodley sweeping in from the Ravens' right to dump Joe Flacco on consecutive plays at Heinz Field last December is a stark reminder of how tough it is to protect your quarterback against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In the span of seven offensive snaps — four drop-backs — the Steelers sacked Flacco three times. Driving for a tying field goal or go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter, the Ravens coughed up a 23-20 loss instead.

On Sunday, the Ravens go back to Pittsburgh, ready for combat, hoping they can do a better job of containing Woodley and the rest of the Steelers' defensive blitzkrieg.

"Sometimes, if you're playing against an elite defense, you might slide all the protections one way," center Matt Birk said. "Well, you can't against the Steelers. They've got two great outside rushers, they've got great inside rushers. They've got linebackers who understand how to play. They've got a safety that can blitz any gap.

"So scheme-wise, there's really not a whole lot you can do to try to neutralize their strengths because they have so many."

The Steelers bring a double-barrel threat in outside linebackers James Harrison and Woodley. Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel give them a strong push up the middle, and if that's not enough, there's safety Troy Polamalu in the back end, waiting to pounce at his discretion.

It's a combination that has proved ruinous in Flacco's two-plus NFL seasons. Last year they sacked him nine times to split the season series. But they have been especially rough on Flacco in Pittsburgh, where he is 0-3 with a 2008 AFC championship game loss.

In three career games at Heinz Field, Flacco has been sacked 12 times, thrown four interceptions and completed just 48.8 percent of his throws.

"Besides the playoff game [a 23-14 loss], we've played them really good up there," Flacco said. "We just haven't come out with wins. We've got to finish games – and this is going to be another good game – and we'll have to finish it in the fourth quarter when it comes down to the time to do that."

The fourth quarter is when Woodley, 25, and Harrison, 32, seem to be at their best. They are the NFL's most dominant pass rushing tandem at outside linebacker, combining for 23.5 sacks in 2009, and a Steelers' record of 27.5 in 2008.

Ravens left tackle Michael Oher will face Harrison on Sunday. A year ago, Oher played right tackle against Woodley in a Nov. 29 game in Baltimore, and left tackle against Harrison in December, when Jared Gaither was out.

"The only difference I can see is one has a [defensive player of the year award] and one doesn't right now," Oher said, referring to Harrison's 2008, 16-sack season. "They're both good."

Gaither's injury absence last December resulted in Oniel Cousins starting at right tackle for the Ravens. Woodley responded with a monster game: 10 tackles (7 solos), two sacks, a forced fumble and one pass broken up. He almost single-handedly stopped the Ravens on their final two drives.

The task of stopping Woodley now falls to Marshal Yanda, this season's right tackle. The two had played against each other in college when Yanda was at Iowa and Woodley at Michigan.

"He was a great effort guy, a real strong guy," Yanda said. "He's like 6-2, so he's got good leverage. If you get high, he's going to get underneath you and jack you into the quarterback. So you've got to identify his rush and play your butt off. He's one of the best."

Right guard Chris Chester, who started at tight end to help Cousins in the December matchup, quickly gained his own measure of respect for Woodley.

"He's a good mix of being quick, but also being powerful," Chester said. "He's not just a one-trick pony. He has the power to bull you if you're not in a good football position, and the quickness to put you at a disadvantage if you're laying off the ball."

Harrison has had his moments against the Ravens, too. In the 2008 game in Pittsburgh, his sack and forced fumble against Flacco resulted in a 7-yard fumble return touchdown for Woodley. He forced another fumble last December.

"At times we've done well against one guy, but then the other guy has hurt us," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "It's pretty hard to provide help on both sides of your pass protection and get anybody out [into pass routes]. That's the biggest thing. They are very powerful rushers – that's the No. 1 thing. They really bring it and you're not sure where they're coming from, and they bring it with a lot of power."

Last season, the Ravens didn't see Polamalu in either game because of a knee injury. But he is healthy now and has two of the Steelers' five interceptions. He plays safety similarly to the Ravens' Ed Reed and can create havoc with his ability to improvise on the spot.

"You always account for him … because we know he's got some freedom to [change] plays at times and do what he thinks can stop any play," Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "So you have an understanding of that. … You can't overreact to it, but you can't minimize it, either. Know where he is, be heads-up for basically anything, stay within the structure of the play and play ball."

Protecting Flacco against the Steelers is a full-time job with no plays off.

"Our goal is not to have Joe get hit," Yanda said. "The defense wants to knock the quarterback out of the game, obviously. It doesn't have to be a dirty defense to do that; that's just part of their job. So our job is to prevent that from happening. That is a huge priority for us. But it's not the only one. We definitely want to run the ball on them and that makes it easier [to pass protect]."


10-01-2010, 12:46 AM
Steelers' Clark has no love lost for Baltimore
Friday, October 1, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 02200.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_702200.html)

First it was the news that Ray Lewis and Ben Roethlisberger exchanged pleasant text messages mere days before the game. And that was followed by all this talk about mutual respect between teams in what is supposed to be the fiercest rivalry in the NFL.

Where is all the bad-mouthing and bounty-hunting between the two teams that supposedly can't stand each other?

Maybe just nobody asked tell-it-like-it-is safety Ryan Clark what he thinks about the Ravens.

"To me, the Ravens are just another football team," Clark said. "They don't come in here wearing a cape. I am not scared they are going to take my lunch money."

Clark is one of those guys who doesn't like the Ravens and doesn't mind if anybody else knows. He is the one who was criticized for knocking out running back Willis McGahee during the final minutes of the AFC Championship game a few years back.

"It's funny, you hear a lot of things coming out of there that certain people take cheap shots and this and that, but when Ray (Lewis) does it or when Ray hits a guy coming across the middle, it's cool," Clark said. "But when one of their guys gets hit, it's not cool."

Clark was alluding to Lewis laying out Jets tight end Dustin Keller across the middle during Week 1 of the season and getting praised.

10-01-2010, 12:47 AM
Ravens hope to avoid penalties against Steelers
Friday, October 1, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 02196.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_702196.html)

Last year, Baltimore committed 20 penalties combined in the two games against the Steelers, including 11 for 113 yards in a 23-20 loss at Heinz Field. The Ravens believe that the Steelers baited them into a lot of those penalties. "Why would you think that?" Terrell Suggs recently told Baltimore reporters. "Of course not. They have nice guys over there. ... We're not little boys. We're men. We should know when we're getting baited into something. We've just got to get them between the whistles."

• Last season, Baltimore averaged seven penalties for 68 yards per game. "People get upset because they get hit in the face," Steelers safety Ryan Clark said. "There is going to be some more of that Sunday."

• Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is sort of using a receiver-by-committee approach when it comes to replacing Santonio Holmes. That is especially true on one of Holmes' most successful plays - the backside slant against man coverage. "It's by formation (now)," Arians said. "There are two or three guys back there." One of them won't be rookie Antonio Brown anytime soon, although it appears that he would have the skill set to hold down such a role. "No, because I don't trust what he will see," Arians said. "Maybe he will become that, but he wasn't that in practice today."

• The Steelers will wear their throwback uniforms Oct. 17 against the Browns and Nov. 14 against the Patriots.

• Not practicing for the second straight day for the Steelers were QB Dennis Dixon (knee), OL Trai Essex (ankle) and DT Chris Hoke (knee). For the Ravens, RB Ray Rice (knee) was limited but is expected to play Sunday.