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09-05-2011, 01:44 AM
Ravens receiver Reed suspended for opener
By AARON WILSON, Landmark News Service
Published 09/03/11
http://www.hometownannapolis.com/news/S ... pener.html (http://www.hometownannapolis.com/news/SPO/2011/09/03-37/Ravens-receiver-Reed-suspended-for-opener.html)

OWINGS MILLS - Baltimore Ravens wide receiver David Reed was suspended without pay for the season opener and will lose an additional game check as well for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy.

The punishment will cost him a total of $52,941 and affect the Ravens' return game and depth on offense.

The NFL disciplinary move stems from a drug case last year in Baltimore County in which Reed was charged with misdemeanor possession when officers discovered marijuana at his home after a complaint by neighbors about smoke coming out the front door.

The case was essentially dropped when prosecutors moved it to an inactive court docket called the 'stet' docket and Reed wasn't given any jail time or criminal record. No legal action will be taken as long as Reed remains out of trouble.

Nevetheless, the NFL regarded the incident as a violation of its policy.

The Ravens weren't surprised by the suspension and expected the league office to take action.

"We were aware that this would happen," the team said in a statement.

Reed, who was drafted in the fifth round last year out of Utah, led the NFL with a 29.3 kickoff return average and established a franchise record for longest kickoff return with a 103-yard return for a touchdown against the Houston Texans.

Reed's suspension begins today and he's eligible to return Sept. 12, the day after the Ravens' game against the Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium. He doesn't count against the Ravens' roster limit of 53 players during the suspension.

With Reed out for the Steelers game, the Ravens will likely turn to rookies Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss to work behind starters Anquan Boldin and Lee Evans at wide receiver. If the younger receivers falter, a veteran like Chris Chambers has been linked to the Ravens as a possibility.

The Ravens could use rookie wide receiver LaQuan Williams on kick returns as well as Smith or Jalen Parmele.

Docked a pair of $26,470 game checks, Reed is due a $450,000 base salary this season. He was signed to a three-year contract last year worth $1.34 million that includes a $133,900 signing bonus.

09-05-2011, 02:50 AM
Andre Gurode joins the Ravens

Posted by Gregg Rosenthal on September 4, 2011


The Ravens continue to add well known veteran offensive linemen to the team.

Baltimore announced the signing of five-time Pro Bowl center/guard Andre Gurode, last with the Cowboys. Baltimore also signed former Viking Bryant McKinnie with the idea of starting him at left tackle.

Gurode’s role shouldn’t be that big, but he provides insurance at center where Matt Birk is still trying to get healthy. Baltimore gets to work out their offensive line issues during an opening week matchup with Pittsburgh.


http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/20 ... he-ravens/ (http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/09/04/andre-gurode-joins-the-ravens/)

Discipline of Steel
09-05-2011, 09:44 AM
My joy for the start of the season is tempered by fear of more insanity from the league HQ.

09-05-2011, 02:15 PM
The NFL disciplinary move stems from a drug case last year in Baltimore County in which Reed was charged with misdemeanor possession when officers discovered marijuana at his home after a complaint by neighbors about smoke coming out the front door.

Dayum...how much do you have to be smoking for your neighbors to notice SMOKE COMING OUT THE FRONT DOOR?!?!

09-05-2011, 03:22 PM



A look at how the defense shapes up after the final major cutdown (although more changes could occur this week):

Starters: DT Haloti Ngata, NT Terrence Cody, DE Cory Redding. Backups: DE Arthur Jones, NT Brandon McKinney, DE Pernell McPhee and DE Michael McAdoo. Comment: There’s been an influx of youth here with Cody stepping into a starting role, Jones pushing for a starting role and McAdoo surprisingly making the roster (at least for now) after joining the Ravens one day after going unpicked in the supplemental draft on Aug. 22. The Ravens might be tempted to slip McAdoo onto the practice squad after they add a veteran cut over the weekend. Ngata, Redding and McKinney were all locks to make the team.

Starters: OLB Terrell Suggs, ILB Ray Lewis, ILB Jameel McClain, OLB Jarret Johnson. Backups: OLB Paul Kruger, ILB Dannell Ellerbe, OLB Sergio Kindle, ILB Brendon Ayanbadejo, OLB Albert McClellan, ILB Jason Phillips. Comment: The Ravens return the same starting four from a year ago, but the supporting cast is a bit different. Kruger has returned to being a linebacker after trying to become a defensive end last year. Kindle could provide some pass rush after missing all of last season with a head injury. And McClellan, a practice squad member last year, should make an impact on special teams. He was the defense’s second biggest surprise of cut day behind McAdoo.

Starters: TBD with cornerbacks. FS Ed Reed, SS Bernard Pollard. Backups: CB Jimmy Smith, CB Domonique Foxworth, CB Cary Williams, SS Tom Zbikowski, FS Haruki Nakamura, CB Chris Carr, CB Lardarius Webb, CB Chykie Brown. The only guaranteed starter in the secondary is Reed, who led the NFL in interceptions last season. Pollard is expected to get the other starting safety spot over Zbikowski. The starting cornerbacks could be any combinations of rookie first-round pick Smith, Foxworth, Williams and Carr. Webb has been effective as a blitzing nickel back this preseason. Brown, a rookie fifth-round pick, helped his cause to become the 10th defensive back after returning an interception for a touchdown in the preseason finale.

http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/sports/ ... fense.html (http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/sports/ravens/blog/2011/09/roster_recap_defense.html)

09-05-2011, 04:01 PM
I need to vent. My wifes cousin that grew up here 30 minutes from Pittsburgh now lives in Baltimore and is a captain for an airlines. I was shocked/pissed/dismayed that he has turned his black & gold in for purple. He is now a ravens fan through and through and it bothers the hell out of me.

I got in it with him and his wife and I didn't hold back. I asked how he can live through the seventies, be a Steeler fan and then jump ship ? He had no answer other than, ravens are great and the Steelers are not as good. He never has anything to back it up, never really said why he changed teams.
His brother told me that he is a die hard football fan and he wanted season tickets and enjoys going to the games so, he has adopted the Ravens for this.
I mentioned that the dude is a pilot and I'm sure he has a better chance than many of us to fly in for the games.
As soon as we get to a family function he starts on me and brags up the dirty birds. I just say, " 6 Super Bowl wins, a legacy that can not be topped. "
I also mentioned to him I'm glad he isn't serving in the armed forces, we wouldn't need a trader if things went against his grain.

I can't believe someone would stop being a Steelers fan ! I just don't get it !

Any thoughts on this my fellow Steeler breathren ?

09-05-2011, 04:41 PM
Any thoughts on this my fellow Steeler breathren ?

that would be an easy one for me.

I would do my very best to be around your wife's cousin as little as possible. he certainly would never be invited to my house and I would come up with all kinds of creative excuses to not attend any family functions where he was present. and if for whatever reason I couldn't get out of it, I would simply ignore him.

Life is too short to waste time with traitors and turncoats. :tt2

09-06-2011, 09:02 AM
Any thoughts on this my fellow Steeler breathren ?

Enjoy the rivalry. It's family. Not that big a deal.

People follow sports for many reasons. One being social and being a Ravens fan probably gives the guy more social opportunities where he lives.

For me personally, I miss living in Pittsburgh where everyone's a Steelers, Pens, Buccos fan. In NC, people always have parties to watch Carolina, Hurricane, NCState, UNC, Duke games. So I could get why someone living here would want to bond with their friends and neighbors and share that experience. Even moreso for the benefit of the family/kids.

Personally I have no interest. For me, sports are more about nostalgia and reverting back to my own youth. So I'm maddeningly addicted to all things Pittsburgh for the rest of my life. But I can get why others may be interested in sports for other reasons.

Some of us are addicted. Others not so much.

You're an addict just like me. Apparently your cousin isn't. But it's all good. To each his own. But you've got the rivalry in common. So have fun with that.

Don't let it bug you so much. Everyone's different.

I'd equate it with your cousin being gay. You'd still accept him, love him, and still be related at the end of the day. His choice. No biggie. And it's not like he's gonna try to convert you into a Ravens fan.

09-06-2011, 09:10 AM
Any thoughts on this my fellow Steeler breathren ?

Plain & simple he's a moron.
But to each hisn own.
He probably taunts you because most fans of other teams are jealous of what we have.

09-06-2011, 10:21 AM
I'd equate it with your cousin being gay.

After all, he is a grown man that wears purple. :stirpot

09-06-2011, 10:28 AM
He'll be regrettin' all of it come Sunday!

I hope you sit right next to him when you watch the game this weekend.

09-06-2011, 11:22 AM
Ha ! I love the moron comment and the gay/purple. He's actually my wifes cousin and his wife is the worse when it comes to talking trash. Don't get me wrong, I can keep up with the trash talk as much as others.
I just can't understand how someone can sheds their Steeler roots. He even rooted against us in the Super Bowls.

BTW, I watched the Steeler/Greenbay Super Bowl last night on tv and sadly, same outcome lol !

A couple of things I noticed were. Despite all our mistakes we played a good game and was in there to the end.

GreenBay is a good team and I give them credit for getting the job done.

The annoucers seemed to be in GreenBays corner throughout the game. Not that it matters or this and that but, I seemed to notice that the second time around watching the game.

As much as our offense turned over the ball and for what all Harrison pointed out about Ben and Mendenhall, the defense didn't do their part either allowing Greenbay to score on each turnover.

I wish we would get to play GreenBay again in this years Super Bowl. Actually I'll be happy to just get to the Super Bowl this season and I think we will.

09-06-2011, 11:28 AM
Any thoughts on this my fellow Steeler breathren ?

Plain & simple he's a moron.
But to each hisn own.
He probably taunts you because most fans of other teams are jealous of what we have.

He is obviously not mentally competent enough to be entrusting flying a kite let alone a plane. Let me know what airline so I can avoid it.

09-06-2011, 11:40 AM
The emptiest barrels always make the loudest noise. You don't have to say anything, he'll tell you Flacco is better than Ben, their LBs are better than the Steelers, Reed is better than Polamalu, etc. I typically just smile and say nothing, it usually ignites another tirade, because I won't engage in the debate.

Even if Flacco is better than Ben, their LBs are better than the Steelers and Reed is better than Troy, the Steelers have knocked them out of the playoffs and have been more successful against the Ravens than vice versa.

This is where the smug "I know the Steelers are better" smile works miracles and you don't have to waste breath.


09-06-2011, 12:12 PM
I come from a family with a near equal mix of Browns fans and Steelers fans...my advice is to be the bigger person...

My childhood home is exactly 71 miles from Cleveland and 71 miles from Pittsburgh, right on Route 30...

I have been a Steelers fan all my life...almost 40 years...I never switched allegiances...

Although we don't talk about it much, I think that my brother in law feels the same way about me that you feel about your wife's cousin...that I am somehow a traitor because I technically grew up in Ohio despite the fact that, geographically, I was no closer to Cleveland than Pittsburgh...

At the holidays during football season, my brother in law is kind of a dick...

Don't be that guy...

09-06-2011, 03:20 PM
I'll share my own familial Steelers/Ravens rivalry.

My sister-in-law is from Maryland, and she's a Ravens fan. Last year, there was a family get together that was rescheduled due to weather, and ended up being set for the day of the Steelers/Ravens playoff game. I attend the gathering only after confirming that we could view the game in its entirety. Generally, the men watched the game in the basement and the ladies watched upstairs.

I kept relatively quiet during the first half, and my sister-in-law didn't do too much trash talking. During the second half, her daughter, and my niece, then about 2.5 years old, came downstairs for a bit. I gave her my Terrible Towel and told her to give it to her Mom. In the midst of the comeback, my niece tears through house -- I heard from others that she absolutely looked like somebody on a mission. She reached her Mom and threw the Terrible Towel in her face. Talk about adding insult to injury.

:tt1 :tt1 :tt1


09-06-2011, 03:24 PM
Ha ! I love the moron comment and the gay/purple. He's actually my wifes cousin and his wife is the worse when it comes to talking trash. Don't get me wrong, I can keep up with the trash talk as much as others.
I just can't understand how someone can sheds their Steeler roots. He even rooted against us in the Super Bowls.

BTW, I watched the Steeler/Greenbay Super Bowl last night on tv and sadly, same outcome lol !

A couple of things I noticed were. Despite all our mistakes we played a good game and was in there to the end.

GreenBay is a good team and I give them credit for getting the job done.

The annoucers seemed to be in GreenBays corner throughout the game. Not that it matters or this and that but, I seemed to notice that the second time around watching the game.

As much as our offense turned over the ball and for what all Harrison pointed out about Ben and Mendenhall, the defense didn't do their part either allowing Greenbay to score on each turnover.

I wish we would get to play GreenBay again in this years Super Bowl. Actually I'll be happy to just get to the Super Bowl this season and I think we will.

I have a brother-in-law who is a big Ravens fan and we have good natured trash talk going back and forth but to switch from being a Steelers fan to a Ratbird fan :shock: I don't see how anybody does that.

Does anybody else get sick to their stomach when they see that commercial for "America's Game"? I'm still not over that loss in the SB and probably won't get over it until we win the next one. I guess I'll be feeling bad until February. :D

:tt2 :tt2

09-06-2011, 10:31 PM
I have a brother-in-law who is a big Ravens fan and we have good natured trash talk going back and forth but to switch from being a Steelers fan to a Ratbird fan :shock: I don't see how anybody does that.

Does anybody else get sick to their stomach when they see that commercial for "America's Game"? I'm still not over that loss in the SB and probably won't get over it until we win the next one. I guess I'll be feeling bad until February. :D

:tt2 :tt2


When no on else in the house can hear me, I shout "**** You" to the TV when Aaron Rogers says, "It was pretty special."

09-06-2011, 10:44 PM
It bothers me more now, than it did when it happened. Maybe because it was at times like watching a train wreck. I just kept seeing one mistake or mishap after another, yellow flags, turnovers after another and before the game was over I, pretty much conditioned myself to, " fezz, you better get your act together and handle this "

I'm still more upset about the 95 loss than this one and that I can't figure out. Maybe because at the time I didn't think losing a Super Bowl was possible for a Steeler team.

Neal,, I spit on you...blah

09-06-2011, 11:02 PM

09-06-2011, 11:04 PM

That is beautiful man

09-07-2011, 02:03 AM
Mike Tomlin on the rivalry with Baltimore, among the best in the NFL:

"We have two very good football teams with the same intentions, and that is to dominate the AFC North and put themselves in positions to chase the Lombardi Trophy. That is why we will always have issues with these guys because I expect that their goals will be unchanging like ours. So two trains are on the track. See you Sunday."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11250/11 ... z1XEhca700 (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11250/1172650-66-0.stm?cmpid=sports.xml&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter#ixzz1XEhca700)

09-07-2011, 06:40 AM
Kovacevic: No reason Steelers shouldn't win
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 55432.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_755432.html)

It's Steelers-Ravens week, in case you've been rooming with fugitive Libyan dictators, and the heated/hyperbolic portion of our program gets going Wednesday when the first swarms of cameras and microphones hit the teams' practice facilities.

Better bring backup.

LaMarr Woodley might revisit his summer dig that Baltimore will never win a Super Bowl with Joe Flacco at quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger might recall Haloti Ngata breaking his nose. Hines Ward might demonstrate some end-zone sambas. And over in Owings Mills, Md., expect no less color from the Ravens' Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed.

But before we dive into all that, let me throw this out: For once, I'm not sure the game will rival the hype. I see the Steelers not just as favorites, but as prohibitive favorites.

Here are seven reasons why:

7. No. 7, of course

This one's the easiest.

Roethlisberger is Baltimore's Larry Brown, Francisco Cabrera and David Volek all rolled into one, except that he keeps coming back to drive the stake deeper. Overall, he's 9-2 against the Ravens — 6-0 since John Harbaugh became their coach — and he's done it with a broken nose, with blood on his jersey, and with Suggs wrapped around his ankles.

6. Heap big mistake

The Ravens dumped several veterans after the lockout, notably wide receiver Derrick Mason, running back Willis McGahee and, most inexplicably, tight end Todd Heap, the franchise leader in receiving touchdowns and yards and the one offensive player the Steelers never really have been able to counter. Heap, 31, rejected Baltimore's request to sign at a lower price and went to the Arizona Cardinals.

I brought this up with the Steelers' Heath Miller, Heap's longtime counterpart, and he took the high road.

"Todd's a great player," Miller said. "I'm sure they've got some other talent."

I'm not. Ed Dickson, Heap's replacement, is a second-year man who had to win the job in a camp battle.

5. Formation euphoria

While Baltimore had a duel to turn up just one tight end, the Steelers spent their final preseason game alternating formations between three tight ends and five wide receivers. And in the tight-end set, it was backup David Johnson, not Miller, getting most of the passes, as if to strut the depth.

Good luck scheming for that.

"Our offense can do it any way you want," Johnson told me with a broad grin.

The Ravens still have the great Reed, but their corners are rookie Jimmy Smith and Cary Williams, whose only NFL start came in 2009. The other safety, Tom Zbikowski, has two career interceptions.

4. No secondary concern

For all the angst over the Steelers' corners, their secondary will have to be concerned with Anquan Boldin, Lee Evans and no one else. Baltimore's No. 3 receiver, David Reed, must serve a one-game league suspension for marijuana possession, and the rest are rookies.

And did I mention Heap's gone?

3. The Steelers' defense is old

How is that an advantage?

Well, Mike Tomlin, the only man on either side talking Tuesday, responded this way in his weekly news conference when asked about a defense with eight starters 30 or older: "We are who we are. We're not fighting any stereotypes or darts being thrown our way. We welcome them. They usually provide a positive energy for us. So keep talking about how old they are. I appreciate that. Makes my job easier."

That's how.

This issue has been terribly overblown. It's been all of eight months since the Steelers turned in one of the great defensive seasons in NFL history.

2. Snap 'n sack

Baltimore quarterbacks were sacked 15 times in the preseason, third most in the NFL, and it wasn't a coincidence. Center Matt Birk and left tackle Bryant McKinnie missed the entire preseason to injuries, guard Marshal Yanda has had back spasms, and right tackle Michael Oher is new to that side. This line's first snap together will come shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday.

Woodley, Lawrence Timmons and even a half-healthy James Harrison should feast.

1. Flacco

For all the areas in which Baltimore has tried to out-Steeler the Steelers, the Ravens have failed to find the one element the Steelers can't handle: A quick-strike quarterback.

Flacco shows some of that at times but seldom against the Steelers. He is 0-6 going head-to-head with Roethlisberger and, in those games, has five touchdowns against six interceptions. Just remember his final half of football last season at Heinz Field, when he came up so small that he was intercepted, fumbled a snap, missed a wide-open Heap, overthrew Mason and was sacked.

Here comes more of that.

Steelers 31, Ravens 13.

Read more: Kovacevic: No reason Steelers shouldn't win - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... z1XGJ1qjfY (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_755432.html#ixzz1XGJ1qjfY)

09-07-2011, 07:06 AM
Week 1 NFL story lines: Steelers and Ravens, together again

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-090 ... 3341.story (http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-0907-nfl-week-1-20110907,0,3843341.story)

Beyond the Packers-Saints opener Thursday, the highlight of the schedule is Sunday's game between the intense AFC North rivals, a rematch of last season's divisional playoff game won by Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown catches a long pass behind Baltimore's Lardarius Webb in the final two minutes the decisive touchdown run and help the Steelers eliminate the Ravens from the playoffs in January. (Gene Sweeney Jr. / Baltimore Sun)

By Lance Pugmire

September 6, 2011, 6:47 p.m.
The last two Super Bowl champions will open the season Thursday in a national-television showcase — a pregame party, fireworks and celebration for everyone spared from a locked-out season when the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints take the field.

Good times don't fuel football players, coaches and fans, however. Heartache and defeat do.

The Pittsburgh Steelers feel the burn, after losing to the Packers in last season's Super Bowl. And the Baltimore Ravens have been stewing even longer, since squandering a lead in an AFC divisional-round playoff game against the Steelers.

Enjoy the Thursday night smiles, then prepare for Sunday morning angst.

The Ravens, who'll play host to their AFC North rivals, are 0-3 in the postseason against the Steelers in the last decade. Last season's 31-24 playoff loss — a long Ben Roethlisberger pass in the final two minutes set up Rashard Mendenhall's decisive touchdown run — was the latest to leave the Ravens muttering . . . and the Steelers gloating.

"It seems like they always have us beat and we always end up beating them," Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this week. "That's what makes it so sweeter."

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, in his fourth year, needs to prove he can handle the biggest tasks after a 16-for-30, 125-yard, one-interception game in the playoff eliminator. The Ravens added former Buffalo receiver Lee Evans last month to complement Anquan Boldin.

Roethlisberger took a subtle shot at his rivals this week, telling reporters, "If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. We consider them one of the best."

Other games to watch:

Indianapolis at Houston: Peyton Manning is doubtful because of neck/back problems — which probably means he's out — as the Colts start their AFC South title defense on the road against the rival Texans, who are still in pursuit of their first postseason appearance. Houston beat Indianapolis in last season's opener.

Divisional supremacy could come down to which body part heals faster: Manning's neck or Arian Foster's hamstring. Foster, who rushed for a league-best 1,616 yards last season, jogged on the sideline Monday as the Texans ran a walk-through practice. No word whether Foster will participate in the next practice Wednesday.

Atlanta at Chicago: These teams had the NFC's top two regular-season records last season. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has a full arsenal at his disposal, including first-round pick Julio Jones at wide receiver. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler could use a strong performance to quell some hometown derision over his debated second-half injury disappearance in last season's NFC championship game.

Minnesota at San Diego: Like the Chargers to play the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl this season, but that tout goes right in the trash can if San Diego loses as a nine-point favorite in its home opener for the second time in four years.

Dallas at New York Jets: Jets Coach Rex Ryan will match wits against his brother, Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, and father Buddy Ryan expects to attend after delaying cancer treatment.

Rex said "the significance" of coaching a New York team at home on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is daunting. "I feel more pressure on this game than any game I've ever coached," Ryan told reporters Monday.


09-07-2011, 08:25 AM

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

09-07-2011, 08:25 AM

09-07-2011, 08:26 AM


09-07-2011, 08:27 AM

Caption this!

I'll start: "THIS IS BULLSH!T !!!!"

09-07-2011, 08:32 AM




09-07-2011, 12:16 PM

09-08-2011, 01:42 AM
Steelers Team Report

Yahoo! Sports


Pittsburgh-Baltimore has been a razor-close series but the Steelers have won six of the past eight, including victories in two of the past three post-seasons on way to the Super Bowl.

Linebacker LaMarr Woodley said this summer that the Ravens would never get to a Super Bowl because they could not get past the Steelers first. Safety Ryan Clark tweeted there really is no rivalry between the teams because the Ravens don’t win enough and “both teams have to win equally” to make it a rivalry.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who had his nose broken last Dec. 5 in Baltimore when swiped by Halot Ngata, asked his teammates to cease and desist with any more comments about the Ravens.

“It’s a huge rivarly,” Roethlisberger insisted, “and I keep telling our guys to stop tweeting stuff and everything because I’m the one who feels the brunt of it, not them, not the defensive guys.”

Some Steelers have tried to downplay the importance of their game against the Ravens, calling it merely one of 16, but it’s much more than that. The Steelers have virtually every starter back and with the lockout and a veteran team and coaching staff, they should be weeks ahead of a team like Baltimore that has undergone many more changes in personnel.

A loss under those circumstances in the first game to the Ravens would not be a good sign for Pittsburgh and could keep them behind them the rest of the season. Pittsburgh also hasn’t lost an opening game since 2002, when they were drubbed in New England.

“We just open up well, it’s a knack we have,” said offensive tackle Willie Colon.

They last opened against Baltimore in 2003, back when that was a regular occurrence. The Steelers and Ravens opened the season three times over a six-year span from 1998 through 2003. Even though most people believe the AFC North Division again will come down to Steelers-Ravens with Cincinnati and Cleveland trailing badly, the series will conclude by the ninth game of the season and not in December as has been the case the past five seasons and nine of the past 10 seasons, setting up for some late-season drama in the playoff chase.

That makes Sunday’s game even more urgent.

“You want to go out there and put on a great show and let them know what the division is going to be like,” wide receiver Hines Ward said. “As a player, you know it’s going to come down to Baltimore and Pittsburgh all the time. It’s a challenge for us to be a dominant road team. What better way than go into Baltimore and see if we can steal one.”

Series History: 31st regular-season meeting. Steelers lead series, 18-12, plus are 3-0 in the post-season. The Steelers have won six of the past eight, including their most recent game in Baltimore Dec. 5 that virtually decided the AFC North title. They then beat the Ravens in the playoffs at Heinz Field on way to their eighth Super Bowl appearance. The Steelers also have an 8-7 overall record in Baltimore.


• Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 9-2 overall against the Ravens and has won his past seven starts against them. He is 6-0 vs. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.

“I think certain guys have a knack for delivering at the most important time,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “I think that is what makes a good team, special players. Ben has proven that he is one of those guys.”

• Quarterback Byron Leftwich said he’s never experienced pain like he had when his upper left arm was broken in the third preseason game Aug. 27. Leftwich was placed on injured reserve.

“A lot of people around here consider me a tough guy but I’ve told them it was the worst feeling I ever had in my life, not just playing football. It was a bad feeling.”

• SS Troy Polamalu said he has no effects from the Achilles injury that curtailed him last season.

“I feel awesome,” Polamalu said. “We’ll see how this year turns out but I couldn’t imagine feeling any better than I do now.”

By The Numbers: 8—Victory streak by the Steelers in their season openers, the longest in the NFL.

Quote To Note: “So in order for them to get to the Super Bowl, they have to beat us, and we’re not gonna let that happen once we get that close. So that’s not gonna happen in this lifetime.”—LB LaMarr Woodley’s comments on the Ravens this summer.


The Steelers will send virtually the same team onto the field against the Ravens that they sent to play them in the playoffs Jan. 15. Right guard Doug Legursky is the only true new starter. RT Willie Colon missed last season but started the three previous to that. Defensive end Aaron Smith missed that playoff game with an injury. Their remaining 19 starters are the same.

Player Notes

• RB Rashard Mendenhall will start but will not play much on third downs. He also will come out of some short-yardage situations in the middle of the field but will stay in the game near the goal line.

• RB Isaac Redman is expected to play a series in each half, play on some third downs and also be the short-yardage back everywhere but near the goal line.

• QB Charlie Batch will dress as the No. 2 quarterback on Sundays. Batch, 36, has played four games in the past three seasons.

• TE David Johnson will wear several hats this season, including his old one of fullback. However, he also will serve as the No. 2 tight end, replacing Matt Spaeth.

• WR Emmanuel Sanders will serve as No. 3. He had not played in a game until the final one in the preseason because of an issue with a foot.

Injury Impact

• LB Chris Carter (hamstring) did not practice, but the rookie was not going to dress for this game anyway.

• WR Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring) was limited in practice but is expected to suit up for the game as the No. 5 wideout.

• OT Marcus Gilbert (concussion) was limited in practice and the rookie may not dress for Sunday’s game.

Game Plan: The Steelers aim to stop Ray Rice and get to Joe Flacco on defense. If they can do that, they feel they can contain the Ravens’ offense. They don’t believe Baltimore has enough speed to go deep on them. Offensively, they will take their shots deep with Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown. There may be more passing on the Steelers part than there has been in past games vs. the Ravens.

Matchups To Watch: Steelers ROLB James Harrison vs. new Ravens LT Bryant McKinnie. Harrison has feasted on the Ravens, who once had him under contract, down through the years and McKinnie has been fat and out of shape.

• Ravens CBs Domonique Foxworth/Jimmy Smith and Cary Williams vs. Steelers WRs Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown—Steelers speed to get deep will test the Ravens’ corners.

• Ravens RT Michael Oher vs. Steelers LOLB LaMarr Woodley—Harrison beat Oher like a drum in the playoffs last season to sack Joe Flacco three times.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=t ... 11-nfl-pit (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=teamreports-2011-nfl-pit)

09-08-2011, 01:46 AM
TIME: 01:00 P.M. EST
VENUE: M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/gametracke ... ns-preview (http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/gametracker/preview/NFL_20110911_PIT@BAL/steelersravens-preview)

There may be no nastier rivalry than the one shared by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens, two teams whose already physical approaches are only intensified when they face one another.

As long as Ben Roethlisberger's been available, though, it's been rather one-sided.

A wild comeback on their way to Super Bowl XLV was the seventh straight time the Steelers have beaten Baltimore with Roethlisberger under center, a streak certainly on the minds of both teams heading into Sunday afternoon's season opener at M&T Bank Stadium.

Smash-mouth defense and stellar running games have defined Pittsburgh and Baltimore for years, but it's been a quarterback who's made the difference in a rivalry that Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis sums up as "get hit or be hit."

Both finished 12-4 in 2010 after winning on their opponents' home field in the regular season, though Roethlisberger - serving a league-mandated four-game suspension - missed a 17-14 loss in Week 4.

He was back to engineer a 13-10 win at Baltimore in Week 13 that propelled the Steelers to the AFC North title, then was at his best in the teams' divisional playoff meeting at Heinz Field. With Pittsburgh down 21-7 at halftime, Roethlisberger threw two second-half touchdown passes, then set up the winning score with a 58-yard strike to Antonio Brown, enabling Rashard Mendenhall to score with 1:33 left to cap a 31-24 victory.

"He may not be (Tom) Brady or all those other guys, but when I see him in the huddle I know we've got a chance to win," said Steelers receiver Hines Ward, who added the Ravens would be "ticked about this (loss) for a long time."

"He's a proven winner. And history shows he's a proven winner against Baltimore."

Roethlisberger has thrown 12 touchdown passes and just three interceptions - posting a 93.9 passer rating - during his personal seven-game winning streak against the Ravens, twice helping Pittsburgh knock them out of the playoffs since 2008.

Not that he relishes facing one of the league's most ferocious defenses.

"I hate going to Baltimore, I hate playing there, and I hate playing them in general just because they are good," Roethlisberger told the Steelers' official website. "That's not a knock on them; it's giving them a lot of credit because they are such a good football team. ... This is almost like its own season when we play those guys."

Joe Flacco, who's been under center for six of those losses, has thrown five TDs, seven interceptions and had a 59.2 QB rating.

It's those two in January, though, that have stuck with Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, one of the more active participants of trash talk in a series full of them.

"They spoiled our Super Bowl dreams for two out of three years," Suggs said. "We have to switch that, you know? ... I'm tired of having a sick feeling in my stomach for a whole year. Game one. Let's go."

Roethlisberger was considerably less impressive in the Steelers' 31-25 loss to the Packers in the Super Bowl, throwing two interceptions - including one that was returned to put Pittsburgh in a 14-0 hole.

But after making it to the NFL's biggest stage for the third time in six seasons, the Steelers largely sat out the league's frenzied but brief offseason. A flirtation with Plaxico Burress didn't pan out, and Pittsburgh eventually settled for Jerricho Cotchery to be its fifth receiver.

Its biggest move was to re-sign cornerback Ike Taylor, who will play Sunday despite breaking his left thumb in the team's preseason opener.

"Tell me where to go, give me a time, pick a place and I will be there," Taylor said of facing the Ravens.

Taylor, Troy Polamalu and the rest of Pittsburgh's secondary will find another speedy target to cover. Baltimore traded a fourth-round pick to Buffalo for Lee Evans, hoping the veteran can provide a downfield threat to complement Anquan Boldin.

Evans is hardly the only new face, however. The Ravens brought in 20 new players, with fullback Vonta Leach and veteran offensive linemen Bryant McKinnie and Andre Gurode among those expected to give Flacco and running back Ray Rice some help.

Gone are Willis McGehee, Todd Heap, Derrick Mason and nose tackle Kelly Gregg.

Lewis isn't sure which team's approach - the Steelers' stay-put mentality or the Ravens' flurry of changes - will pay off Sunday.

"You can look at it for them and say, 'keeping their core together is an advantage for them,'" Lewis told the Ravens' official website. "And then you can come on the flip side for us and say, 'the different changes we did make, we didn't make changes to get worse, we made changes to get better.'"

Eight of the last nine meetings have been within a touchdown, with five of those being decided by a field goal.

The Steelers haven't lost on opening week since 2002, the league's longest active streak. Baltimore has won its past three openers.

09-08-2011, 02:00 AM
For now, diplomacy is in charge in Baltimore
Thursday, September 8, 2011
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 55600.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_755600.html)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — All over the Baltimore area, from bars to convenience stores to barber shops, one can find the same photograph, purchased and posted by fans, of Ray Lewis towering over a prone Ben Roethlisberger. Lewis is on one knee, looking casual about his conquest, his breath visible in the cold.

And, on most of those, you can find Lewis' autograph.

He couldn't help but hold back a smile when asked about it before the Ravens' practice Wednesday.

"It's one play out of 100, but I know what it means," the 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker said. "I know what it means for Baltimore people, and I know what it means for Pittsburgh people. You never like to see Ben in that position with me over top of him."

Lewis' eyes widened.

"It's a good picture. Good pic. But that's what the rivalry is. You hit or be hit. Our rivalry hasn't changed."

Except for this: The Ravens were just gushing with positivity at their first major media availability leading up to the seismic season opener Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. There was no trash-talk, no revisiting old grudges. Nothing but civility.

"We respect them as a team, what they've built," running back Ray Rice said. "We know what it's going to be, just old-fashioned smash-mouth football, but there's respect there."

Asked about the rancorous history between the teams, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said, "I don't know about all that. It's a great rivalry, and we're all proud to be involved in it."

He added that he wasn't downplaying the game's significance.

"I think that would be a little disingenuous. It's a big game. We played them in our last game last year. We have a lot of respect for them. We know what kind of game it's going to be. Whoever wins this game is going to have a leg up in the division. But it will be an early leg up. There's still 15 games to go."

The part that some Ravens did downplay was being eliminated by the Steelers from the playoffs two of the past three years.

"We thought about that last playoff game for a couple months, maybe, but you've got to move on," quarterback Joe Flacco said.

"Hey, it's a new year," safety Ed Reed said. "We're a different team. We've got new players. Some of them don't even know what this is all about."

Reed also shrugged off the various Twitter, Facebook and other barbs exchanged between the Ravens and Steelers during the lockout, notably involving Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley.

"You know what? Those Pittsburgh guys have got some right to talk over there," Reed said. "This is a rivalry, and they've had the upper hand for some time now."

"A lot of us were bored this offseason," linebacker Terrell Suggs said.

Suggs might have made for a mild exception to all these niceties: He came into training camp refusing to say the word "Steelers," and he revealed today he has added "Pittsburgh" to the list.

"It's the best rivalry in sports," Suggs said with a grin. "I think it's got everything fans want to see in this game, the hatred between the two teams, the physical play ... it's got everything."

In the next breath, Suggs added, "They spoiled our Super Bowl dreams two of the last three years. It's definitely time to switch that. It's sickening. Every year, we end our season by losing to our division rival. I'm sick of it. I'm disgusted. I'm tired of having a sick feeling in my stomach all year. Let's get to Sunday. Let's get it on."

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09-08-2011, 02:07 AM
Ravens seek to stop Big Ben in opener
http://www.carrollcountytimes.com/sport ... 002e0.html (http://www.carrollcountytimes.com/sports/ravens/ravens-seek-to-stop-big-ben-in-opener/article_f64d9094-d9c6-11e0-b990-001cc4c002e0.html)

Posted: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 10:59 pm

By Aaron Wilson, Times Staff Writer

OWINGS MILLS -- His strong right arm remains cocked back with his eyes fixated downfield at his targets while tacklers jump on his back and dive perilously at his legs: Ben Roethlisberger is all calm in the midst of chaos.

He's the elusive, gritty quarterback the Baltimore Ravens haven't been able to intimidate, and rarely corral or defeat.

Twisting his bulky torso away from defenders' grasp, buying himself a precious extra second of time, Roethlisberger delivers spirals with authority and timing leaving flailing bodies at his feet.

Not even a broken, bloody nose suffered last December when he got bashed in the face by defensive tackle Haloti Ngata deterred the Pittsburgh Steelers' clutch passer from his mission: beating the Ravens.

"Roethlisberger is a football player, man," Ravens free safety Ed Reed said. "He's an old-school sandlot football player that knows his situation. He's a quarterback, he's got the ball in his hands and he loves to play the game, and he can run."

As the Ravens prepare for a pivotal season-opener against the Steelers Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, it's Roethlisberger that they need to vanquish.

Following an AFC divisional playoff victory over Baltimore in January, Roethlisberger is now 9-2 for his career as a starter against the Ravens. That includes seven consecutive victories.

Roethlisberger has nimble feet that defy his burly, 6-foot-5, 241-pound frame.

And the Super Bowl winning quarterback is at his most effective when the degree of difficulty rises to its highest level.

Roethlisberger overcame a sore right foot and a broken nose last December in Baltimore to manufacture a game-winning touchdown with his 9-yard throw to fullback Isaac Redman in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

"Yeah, he's different than most guys," Ravens outside linebacker Jarret Johnson said. "Most guys, you want to get them running and get them out of the pocket and their decision-making goes down. This guy, it's through the roof.

"It's uncanny how accurate he is on the run, how he just creates plays. Especially when he's getting grabbed, if he can keep that arm free, he's dangerous. It's unbelievable how he does it."

Following a suspension last year for violating the NFL personal-conduct policy, he went 5-0 against AFC North opponents. For his career in the division, Roethlisberger is 29-7 with 7,920 yards, 50 touchdowns and 32 interceptions.

During the past four seasons, the Ravens have only beaten the Steelers three times.

In each of those instances, Roethlisberger wasn't on the field.

Last season, Roethlisberger was serving the final game of his suspension when the Ravens won at Heinz Field. Two seasons ago, he was sidelined with a concussion in the Ravens win. Three years ago, Roethlisberger was rested as Charlie Batch started during a loss to Baltimore where the Steelers had already clinched a playoff berth.

He's not about to get outwardly cocky, though, or accuse the Ravens of talking too much as beefy nose guard Casey Hampton did this week.

"I think the Ravens are pretty tough," Roethlisberger said during a conference call with Baltimore reporters. "I mean, busted my nose last year on like the third play. So, you'll never hear me say something like that."

What you will hear Roethlisberger talk about is his deep respect for Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, his frequent nemesis.

As much as Roethlisberger has built a reputation as the Ravens' albatross, Suggs is the equivalent for the Steelers.

He has recorded 10 ½ sacks during the regular season against Pittsburgh with 76 tackles, one interception, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.

He's been even more of a scourge during the playoffs with a career-high three sacks against Pittsburgh during last season's playoff game and two sacks in the AFC championship in Pittsburgh three years ago.

No one has sacked Roethlisberger more than Suggs with 12 ½ sacks against Roethlisberger, including the playoffs.

"He's such a ferocious player," Roethlisberger said. "He's got really long arms and legs and he uses his hands really well. He's super athletic, fast, strong and ferocious. Something that people really don't write about is his intimidation factor alone."

Just as the Ravens make special preparations for Roethlisberger, Suggs expects the Steelers to place a gauntlet of blockers in front of him to create obstacles to prevent him from hitting their quarterback.

"I guarantee you they've got something in store where I won't be one-on-one with any of their tackles," said Suggs. "It's going to start with a chip, Heath Miller or a back. I won't be one-on-one with them, because they remember the playoff game. They remember all the games I've had."

And Suggs won't be consumed or distracted by flattery.

"They're trying to psych us out," Suggs said. "They're going to do everything possible to make sure I don't have a good game."

He's convinced that the Steelers aren't scared of him.

"I don't think they're rattled at all," he said. "I think it's a sign of respect. It definitely is, but I don't care."‘

No active NFL player has as many sacks against the Steelers during the regular season as Suggs.

And only one other NFL team - the Cleveland Browns - has had as much trouble blocking Suggs with a dozen sacks surrendered to the former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

What is it about the Steelers that pushes Suggs' motivational buttons?

"I just don't want to lose, so every time I play them I crank it up," Suggs said. "That could explain it, but it doesn't matter if the Steelers end up winning the game."

Reach staff writer Aaron Wilson at 410-857-7896 or sports@carrollcountytimes.com.

09-08-2011, 02:18 AM
On the Steelers: Fast corps of wide receivers prompts major change in Ravens secondary
Thursday, September 08, 2011
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Peter Diana/Post-Gazette
Steelers Mike Wallace stretches for a ball behind Ravens defensive back Lardarius Webb in the first Steelers-Ravens game in 2010. Wallace believes the Steelers wide receivers are too fast for Baltimore.

Casey Hampton suggested this week that the Steelers have the edge on the Baltimore Ravens because they have a better deep passing game.

The Ravens tried to counter that in April by drafting one of the best cornerbacks available, Jimmy Smith of Colorado, with the 11th overall pick. Smith is big at 6 feet 2, 210 pounds, and he has been clocked in a reasonably fast 4.47 seconds in the 40. Word from Baltimore is that he will make his first pro start Sunday in his first game against the Steelers.

The Steelers have some young receivers who can fly.

"I'm not worried about him," said one of them, Mike Wallace. "He needs to worry about us."

Wallace has 4.3 speed and has led the AFC in each of the past two seasons with averages of 19.4 yards (2009) and 21.0 yards ('10) per catch. Emmanuel Sanders runs a 4.4, and Antonio Brown looks to be even faster than his 4.47 clocking coming out of school. Smith will be tested deep early in his NFL career.

"He just needs to just be ready, because we're going to be coming at him," Wallace said.

Wallace has two big-play seasons behind him, so his puny three catches for 19 yards in this preseason prompted no concerns. On the other hand, Brown has been sensational, averaging 25.6 yards on nine catches this summer, three for touchdowns -- one of 77 yards.

The Steelers are expected to test that Ravens secondary with the rookie Smith at cornerback Sunday.

"Man, we can take our shots deep on anybody," Wallace said. "We don't discriminate. It doesn't matter who it is. Anybody can get it."
Redman remembers it well

The previous time he stepped on M&T Bank Stadium field in Baltimore, Isaac Redman was a little-known backup halfback from nearby Bowie State. By the time he stepped off, he may have helped save the Steelers season.

Redman returns to Baltimore, near where he played his small-college football, lugging a bigger role in the Steelers offense to open the season and memories from the biggest play of his young career.

"I still watch it on YouTube once in a while," Redman said. "It was a big play."

The only one bigger Dec. 5 in Baltimore came a few plays earlier, when Troy Polamalu blitzed off the corner, hit quarterback Joe Flacco and caused a fumble that put the Steelers back in a game that was seemingly lost with 3:13 left.

With 2:58 to go, however, they still were 9 yards away, and it was third-and-goal. The Steelers trailed by four, so they needed a touchdown.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took the snap, saw the blitz, read the "hot" route and flipped a quick, short pass over the middle to Redman, who made safety Dawan Landry miss initially and broke a few tackles getting into the end zone with 2:51 left.

That touchdown for a 13-10 victory might have made the difference between the Steelers and Ravens winning the AFC North and, ultimately, the AFC.

"Without that play, who knows how things would have ended up the rest of the season?" Redman said.

"Lose to them, lose the division, not having the homefield advantage -- that really, really, really sparked that Super Bowl run."

Redman wasn't bragging, merely saying.

"Everything still seems like a blur. I knew it was 'hot' and I had a chance to beat the first guy, and kind of just wouldn't be denied. It was like 'Ain't nobody tackling me.' "

Redman has played that way most of the time since he arrived from Bowie as an unheralded, undrafted rookie in 2009. He has earned a larger role and said he was told he will get a series each half, do the short-yardage stuff everywhere but on the goal line (when Rashard Mendenhall stays in) and play a lot on third downs.

"Hopefully, I'll get a little more of the load," Redman said.
Leftwich update

No football player ever looked to be in more pain than Byron Leftwich when he left the field screaming after a bone in his upper left arm was snapped in two Aug. 27 at Heinz Field.

Leftwich said it did not just look that way. The pain was so excruciating, it went straight to his head.

"When I got up initially, I thought I had a concussion," Leftwich said. "I don't know if it was the shock from the pain or what ... I don't remember being on the field. I kind of came to when they were taking X-rays, that's how much pain I was in. It was a different feeling for me, I wanted to throw up, man, I wanted to just pass out.

"A lot of people around here consider me a tough guy, but I've told them it was the worst feeling I ever had in my life, not just playing football. It was a bad feeling."

Leftwich, who was placed on injured reserve, had surgery to repair the break in the humerus bone and was told it will take 2-3 months to heal. The only fortunate part for him is that his left arm was broken and he throws right-handed.
Polamalu mum on talks

Troy Polamalu again declined to talk about his contract negotiations that started back up (and, with time running out, fruitlessly so far), but he did talk about his health and said there are no lingering effects from the Achilles injury that bothered him last season.

"I feel awesome," Polamalu said.

"We'll see how this year turns out, but I couldn't imagine feeling any better than I do now."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11251/11 ... z1XL5GJGjW (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11251/1173000-66-0.stm#ixzz1XL5GJGjW)

09-08-2011, 02:20 AM
Failure to beat Steelers haunts Ravens evermore
Ravens Week
Thursday, September 08, 2011
By Kevin Cowherd, The Baltimore Sun

In Baltimore, the land of the perpetually anxious, Ravens fans are damp with the usual flop sweat as the season opener against the Steelers approaches.

Also as usual, people in this town are ascribing all sorts of Armageddon-like significance to the game.

In this case, though, the fans might have a point. Because this is a huge game. And the reason is simple: the Steelers are in the Ravens' heads, big-time. And until the Ravens find a way to exorcise their black-and-gold demons -- and a smackdown of the Steelers Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium would help -- their run for a Super Bowl ring goes nowhere.

If you doubt how much the Ravens obsess about their arch-rivals, you did not hear Terrell Suggs speak to the media Wednesday, right before thunderstorms of biblical proportions drove practice inside at the Castle.

Suggs, the Ravens All-Pro outside linebacker, can come on like a buffoon sometimes. Or even like a space cadet. But the fact is, he also can be one of the most thoughtful Ravens when he wants to be, when he is not straining for laughs.

When he was asked about the Steelers Wednesday, Suggs grimaced and shook his head sadly. No jokes this time.

"They spoiled our Super Bowl dream for two out of the last three years," he said, shaking his head. "So, we gotta switch that. It's sickening and it ends our season every year and we lose to our division rival.

"I'm sick of it. I'm disgusted. I'm tired of having a sick feeling in my stomach."

I know, I know. You wish the guy would open up a little. Tell us what he really thinks.

But Suggs occasionally will do that for you, bare his soul, before a big game. And when was the last time the Ravens had a big opening game like this, a Week 1 showdown in what has become one of the best rivalries in all of sports?

"It's the best in sports," Suggs corrected, "because everything the fans want to see out of a rivalry is in this game. The hatred between the two teams. The physicality."

Fine, fine.

Except there is just one little problem with the rivalry: the Ravens have dropped six of the past eight games between the two teams. And that includes that horror show in the divisional playoff round in January at Heinz Field, when the Ravens led, 21-7, at halftime and blew the game, 31-24.

Sure, the games have been close. In five of the past eight, just three points separated the winner and loser. In another game, the difference was four.

But the fact is, the Steelers have dominated the rivalry in recent years. The Steelers have found a way to win when they needed to. The Steelers made the big plays when they counted most.

And the Ravens know it. And it eats at them like a slow acid drip in the gut.

It's funny, though, you talk to some of the Ravens, and they try to downplay how much losing to the Steelers haunts them.

They give you all this stuff about how great the rivalry is and how much they respect the Steelers and how much they enjoy playing against them. And, OK, I'm sure it's all true.

But, in the back of their minds, they know the Steelers have their number. And that until they beat Pittsburgh with Ben Roethlisberger in the lineup, until they find a way to overcome the voodoo that the great Steelers quarterback seems to throw at them time and again, the road to the Super Bowl is blocked like a tunnel cave-in.

The Ravens seemed to sense that as the thunderstorms roared through Owings Mills Wednesday, even if it was only Suggs who articulated it.

"At the end of the day," said Ray Rice, the gritty running back, "it's not the end of the world, a loss in Week 1. But, at the same time, if you kick your season off with a win, you get your confidence going for the rest of the year."

The little man was right, of course.

But kick off your season with a win against the Steelers, and your confidence red-lines all that much more.

That's why it was Suggs' message that seemed to resonate the loudest.

New season, he seemed to be saying. New Ravens team. Put it to the Steelers right away, this Sunday, in front of a sellout home crowd.

Get rid of the demons -- at least for now.

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09-09-2011, 12:58 AM
Kovacevic: Ravens suffer from Steelers complex
Friday, September 9, 2011
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 55849.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_755849.html)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ray Lewis was pacing with playful impatience the other day as a media scrum surrounded Baltimore teammate Ray Rice. Lewis was scheduled to talk next, and he sure looked like he wanted to get on with it.

"Come on, last question," Lewis muttered, barely audible.

Well, I had another. No sane person wants to tick off one of the most menacing linebackers in NFL history, but I asked Rice this: Does Joe Flacco take unfair blame for the Ravens' losses to the Steelers?

Lewis stopped pacing. His eyes turned to Rice.

Without hesitation, and apparently without noticing Lewis, Rice gave a sharp, mature answer in which he called Flacco "an elite quarterback" and "a winning quarterback."

Never mind whether those are accurate assessments. It was the right answer for a teammate to give.

Lewis loved it.

"Good job, man," he whispered with a small fist pump.

That left with me two thoughts:

1. Lewis is still the man.

2. The Ravens appear to have quite the complex.

There can be no questioning that first one. The great No. 52 in purple is a giant of the game, not just of the Baltimore franchise.

That second one came with some doubt, though. It doesn't easily register that a team such as the Ravens can be so successful for so long, so physical, so feared and yet suffer collective psyche issues. Makes no sense.

Or does it?

Try to picture James Farrior, the Steelers' unquestioned leader, reacting in the same way — even if he were just messing around — had a teammate been asked about Ben Roethlisberger. Or picture James Harrison doing it. Or even the more vocal LaMarr Woodley.

It's inconceivable that none of them would care what anyone told the media about anything.

If this were isolated, it wouldn't be much. But there were other signs this week.

Terrell Suggs, the Ravens' version of Woodley on and off the field, has refused to speak the word "Steelers" all through training camp. On Wednesday, he added the word "Pittsburgh" to the list. When a Baltimore reporter asked Suggs if he'll ever again mention the name of the city, he replied, "What city?"

Again, that's cute, maybe even a little fun. But picture the Steelers doing that.

I asked John Harbaugh, the Baltimore coach who's 0-5 against Roethlisberger right alongside Flacco, how he might explain Flacco's career showings against Pittsburgh.

"In what sense?" Harbaugh came back.

I clarified that Flacco clearly has performed better against other teams than against the Steelers.

"If you look at the numbers, the quarterback rating and all that, you can make that case," Harbaugh said. "Specifically why that is ... is that what you're asking?"

I nodded.

"I don't know. I'd be interested in your theories, though. I guess I'll get to read about them."

Nothing egregious there, either. But picture Mike Tomlin defending Roethlisberger on a similar charge with an "I don't know."

I asked Flacco about Flacco, too, and it was obvious he wanted little to do with my questions, both of which focused on his second-half playoff flop last winter at Heinz Field. The first was whether he had something to prove personally in facing the Steelers.

"It's our job as a team to go out there and play up to our abilities and win the game," Flacco said, as expressionless as he stayed throughout the media session.

Yet again, no big deal. Not everyone is an entertainer, and moreover, Flacco probably has fielded that question a time or 2,000.

But contrast that to Roethlisberger's "It's all on me" stance on losing the Super Bowl, a topic he'll discuss passionately no matter how often it's raised. It's true that Flacco wasn't the only one to blame for the Ravens' playoff collapse, but he most assuredly deserved a good chunk of it.

Several of the Ravens' players also spoke of being "winners" and "successful." And they're right to feel that way, even if it sounds a little defensive: They're the only NFL team to win a playoff game each of the past three years. They've had one of the league's best defenses for a decade.

"It's not like they've taken away from our success," the brilliant safety Ed Reed said of the Steelers. "We've been successful."

Yes, the Ravens have. But their rival cost them two golden chances to reach the Super Bowl in the past three years. To deny that the Steelers have taken away from their success is to deny that there's an underlying explanation for that.

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09-11-2011, 12:17 AM
Can Ravens solve Steelers? 0

By Mike Rutsey ,Toronto Sun

First posted: Saturday, September 10, 2011 09:24 PM EDT | Updated: Saturday, September 10, 2011 09:49 PM EDT

http://www.torontosun.com/2011/09/10/ca ... e-steelers (http://www.torontosun.com/2011/09/10/can-ravens-solve-steelers)

Flacco Quarterback Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens lost two of three to the Pittsburgh Steelers last year, including a heartbreaking defeat in the divisional playoff round. (Reuters)

BALTIMORE - It’s torture time for the Baltimore Ravens.

It’s opening Sunday on the 2011 National Football League season and who do the Ravens draw but the Pittsburgh Steelers, their hated enemy, a team they can’t beat in the clutch.

There is no love lost between the two AFC North powerhouses but for the Ravens, the Steelers are an itch they can’t scratch, a team that psychologically and on the field simply has gotten under their collective skin.

The Steelers are Lucy to Baltimore’s Charlie Brown with victory about as elusive as the football that Lucy keeps pulling away while poor Charlie whiffs on his kick and falls flat on his back each and every time.

Down and out, that’s the way the Steelers usually leave the Ravens. Pittsburgh won two of the three they played last year including a heartbreak loss by Baltimore in the divisional playoff round.

In that one, played in frigid weather in Pittsburgh, the Ravens open up a 21-7 lead in the first half, only to self destruct in the second half and blow the proverbial golden opportunity.

In the third quarter of that game the Ravens offence went fumble, three-and-out punt, interception, fumble. In the quarter, they racked up a total of minus-four yards of offence.

Then in the final two minutes of the game with the score knotted 24-24, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger connected with Antonio Brown on a desperation heave on third and 19 that put the ball at Baltimore’s four-yard line.

Pittsburgh would go on to win 31-24 and deliver another kick to the cojones.

“What a better way to win and put Baltimore out of the tournament,” Steelers veteran receiver Hines Ward crowed at the time. “They asked for us and kept asking for us. Sometimes, like my mama always said: ‘Be careful what you ask for.’

“It seems like every time we get into the playoffs, they keep wanting to play us. At the end of the day, they have to worry about this loss the whole offseason.”

Well, the off-season has come and gone and the Ravens are still trying to figure out how to beat the Steelers.

They haven’t come close when Roethlisberger is taking the snaps as Big Ben is on a seven-game winning streak when facing them. Against a team as tough and gifted as Baltimore, that’s just an incredible roll.

Things have gotten so bad, the Baltimore players so spooked, that Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs refuses to utter either ‘Pittsburgh’ or ‘Steelers’.

Joe Flacco is touted as one of the best young quarterbacks in the game. But when he comes up against Pittsburgh, he continually rolls craps.

In that bitter loss on Jan. 15, Flacco was 16-for-30 for 125 yards — hardly the stuff of legend.

Given the recent history and litany of crushing defeats, the Ravens are certainly not lacking in motivation for Sunday’s game. But can they turn the tide? Can they deliver?

“They’ve spoiled our Super Bowl dreams for the last two out of three years,” Suggs said recently. “We have to switch that you know.

“It’s sickening and it ends our season every year and we lose to our division rival. I’m sick of it. I’m disgusted. I’m tired of having a sick feeling in my stomach for a whole year.

“Game on. Let’s go.”

Unlike the Steelers, who pretty well stood pat, the Ravens have made a number of changes from the team that was beaten at Heinz Field.

They have added wide receiver Lee Evans, he of Buffalo Bills fame, to add speed to the receiving corps, acquired big offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, formerly of the Minnesota Vikings, and to beef up their short-yardage game and provide blocking for Ray Rice, obtained bruising fullback Vonta Leach.

Although they have been defined by the ferocity of their defence and their great middle linebacker Ray Lewis, the Ravens have a new defensive coordinator in Chuck Pagano whose stated mission is to return to an attacking, aggressive, blitzing style and give the defence more of a swagger.

Along the way, though, the Ravens also lost the services of receiver Derrick Mason and tight end Todd Heap, who was a favourite third-down target of Flacco.

That prompted the hated Ward to poke them with a stick by declaring: “When you lose a Mason or a Heap, that does a lot to a locker room. Those guys were emotional leaders out there. All of the pressure comes on Flacco probably.

“Some organizations feel like they have to go young. I think we do a great job of mixing veteran guys with a nucleus of young guys that are waiting in the wings.”

And that more or less is where the Ravens find themselves — waiting in the wings, waiting for another kick at the proverbial can.

They get that opportunity today.

09-11-2011, 12:37 AM
Steelers' Roethlisberger had Ravens by nose
Sunday, September 11, 2011
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 56183.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_756183.html)

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday returns to the stadium where last season he tossed a game-winning touchdown pass after sustaining a broken nose.

What stands out to Roethlisberger about the hit by Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata that left him bloodied but unbowed last December is what transpired after the Steelers' first possession.

Nobody, Roethlisberger said with a laugh, would tell him how bad his nose looked. Or that he had broke it.

Team doctors said his nose was "a little crooked," Roethlisberger recalled.

Roethlisberger asked for a mirror, but his request, like one of 16 passes he threw on that frigid night in Baltimore, fell incomplete.

"They're like 'No, it might be (broken). We just can't tell,' " Roethlisberger said of the team doctors. "Guys were looking at me kind of funny. I was like, 'All right, fine, let's stop the bleeding. Let's go play.' "

Tony Yates, one of the Steelers' doctors, popped the nose back into place. Cotton swabs helped stop the bleeding, and Roethlisberger didn't miss a snap with first place in the AFC North on the line.

"It definitely hurt like crazy," Roethlisberger said. "Everybody was looking at me, but nobody would say anything, and I remember going in at halftime and (my nose) was plastered to the side of my face.

"I went to the doctors (laughing), and I was like, 'Really? You didn't know if it was broken?' They said, 'We didn't want to freak you out.' I'm like, 'Freak me out? You guys know better than that.' "

Roethlisberger completed 22 of 38 passes for 253 yards in the Steelers' 13-10 win. Two plays before throwing a 9-yard touchdown pass on third down with less than three minutes left, Roethlisberger turned in one of his most improbable escapes ever.

It came when he wriggled free of Terrell Suggs' grasp and got away from the Pro Bowl outside linebacker long enough to fling the ball forward for an incomplete pass.

His touchdown pass to running back Isaac Redman might not have happened without that play.

And Roethlisberger would have never tormented the Ravens with more fourth-quarter heroics had the hit that later cost Ngata $15,000 knocked him out of the game.

"You could tell something was going on," right guard Ramon Foster said after Roethlisberger got hit in the face. "Ben, the tough guy that he is, acted like nothing was wrong with him."

When asked if he ever considered coming out of the game, Roethlisberger said, "Are you kidding me? Unless they take me out on a stretcher, which has happened before, I don't ever want to come out of a game, especially a game we had to win. If my guys are out there, I want to be out there with them. That's the kind of leadership I try and exemplify."

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09-11-2011, 12:38 AM
Flacco defiant about his failures vs. Steelers
Sunday, September 11, 2011
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 56181.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_756181.html)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It was a frigid 15th of January when the Steelers defense trotted out to the line of scrimmage for the second half, accompanied by a standing, searing roar from the overflow crowd at Heinz Field. The night sky was set ablaze by Terrible Towels, making for a black-and-gold spectacle that soon would overwhelm the event itself.

This wasn't an ovation as much as an admonition. Baltimore led by 14 points, and the Steelers faced elimination.

"It was a time when we needed it," recalled Ryan Clark, the Steelers' safety. "You know, it's like a relationship. You have to build that trust. We knew the fans would be there because they always show up for us. And they knew we'd be there because we'd come through before. They were cheering because they believed we could make that big play if they got behind us."

The big plays came, suddenly, one after the other. The Steelers forced three turnovers in that third quarter while holding the Ravens to minus-4 yards, then put away a 31-24 victory. The electricity was enough to power the eastern seaboard.

But there always are two sides to these events.

What of Joe Flacco, Baltimore's quarterback who only carries the adjective "beleaguered" when it describes his work with the Steelers? Did he crumble individually? Was he affected by the crowd as adversely as the Steelers were positively?

Flacco was asked this week how often, if at all, he revisits the second half of that playoff loss.

"You look at it right now when you prepare for Pittsburgh," Flacco said, referring to the 1 p.m. season opener Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. "But other than thinking about it for a couple of months after you lost, we haven't necessarily revisited it too much.

"We didn't play very well in the third quarter. They scored points off our turnovers, and we weren't quite capable of getting the game back."

Does he feel he has something to prove personally against the Steelers?

"We have to go out there and beat them as a team," Flacco said. "I don't ever want to go out into a game and feel like I have something to prove personally. I'm going to go out there and give our team the best chance to win. It's our job as a team to go out there and play up to our abilities and win the game."

It's all "we" with Flacco when discussing the Steelers, no matter how many fingers in Baltimore point precisely his way.

The numbers bolster the critics' case: He is 2-6 against the Steelers — 0-2 in playoffs — with a 53 percent completion rate, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. Against all others, he is 34-13 — 4-1 in playoffs — with a 65 percent completion rate, and he has twice as many touchdowns as interceptions (54-27). He has lost five fumbles against the Steelers -- the same as his total against everyone else.

It might be no more complicated than crediting the Steelers' defense, which has made many good quarterbacks look bad. But maybe it's more.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh was vague when asked this week to explain Flacco's dropoff against the Steelers.

"If you look at the numbers, the quarterback rating and all that, you can make that case," Harbaugh said. "Specifically why that is ... I don't know."

One theory is Flacco isn't tough enough, that he gets happy feet as soon as James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley and other pass rushers penetrate the line. That was painfully evident in the second half of that playoff game, in which Flacco had a lazy ball picked off by Clark, lost a fumble, was sacked four times and badly misfired on two long passes that might have brought touchdowns.

After the game, some Steelers openly spoke of Flacco looking flustered, of seeing his eyes widen as the pressure mounted. During the lockout that followed, Woodley went so far as to tell NFL Network the Ravens will never win a Super Bowl with Flacco.

There was nothing of the kind this week, though.

"I don't think we had him rattled," Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said. "They went through a series of plays that our guys just outplayed their guys. I don't think that's any one person's fault."

"Quarterbacks against our defense are going to have their hands full," receiver Hines Ward said. "It was that particular day that he couldn't get things going."

Even Clark, comfortable talking trash in any setting, came to Flacco's defense: "I know when they're winning in Baltimore, they aren't saying, 'Oh, my gosh, we won this game only because of Joe Flacco.' So I think it is unfair to say that in a loss."

The Ravens, far less surprisingly, have Flacco's back.

"I think Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback, a winning quarterback," running back Ray Rice said. "People look at all this other stuff, saying he didn't win a Super Bowl ... I came in with Joe, and we've been to the playoffs every year. When you look at a quarterback, if it's based on winning, you have to look at Joe Flacco. And I think he's only getting better."

Flacco, 26, is entering his fourth NFL season, and he does have highlights: He is just the third starting quarterback to reach the playoffs in his first three NFL seasons, joining Bernie Kosar and Dan Marino. He already is the franchise leader with 10,206 passing yards and 60 touchdown passes. He owns franchise single-season marks for passer rating and completion percentage.

Moreover, as Rice indicated, Flacco is poised to be better. He added 10 pounds of muscle to his 6-foot-6 frame and looks bigger, stronger.

"I'm feeling really good out there," he said. "My goal for myself and for this whole team is to keep improving."

That's usually about as interesting as Flacco gets with the media. He rarely makes headlines. But that changed one day shortly after the lockout, when Flacco wowed the Baltimore press with a stirring self-defense at the late-July opening of training camp.

Among his gems:

>> "What motivates me is being the best quarterback in the world. I don't play this game to be average. I play this game to be the best, and it doesn't matter what other people say."

>> "I think I'm pretty damn good, and I don't need to tell everybody that and show it on every play every Sunday and do all that stuff. You can think what you want about me."

>> "I would like some more people to think good about me. But if they never do, they never do."

Others express confidence that Flacco's skill set eventually will have him live up to expectations.

"He does more than one thing well," LeBeau said. "He's hurt us with the deep ball. He does a great job of play-action and getting the ball outside. His arm strength is truly NFL-caliber. He's more capable of keeping the play alive more than people give him credit for. He can scramble. We have a high opinion of his ability in all phases of the game."

"I say it every year about Joe: I expect Joe to be a winning quarterback," Harbaugh said. "And I'm looking forward to seeing how he does. I think he's going to have a heck of a season."

Much more should be known very soon.

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09-11-2011, 12:47 AM
View from Baltimore: Flacco draws flak from the haters
Saturday, September 10, 2011
By Kevin Cowherd, Baltimore Sun

You think he's on the cusp of greatness or you think he stinks.

You point out that he has led the Ravens to the playoffs for three consecutive years. Or you point out that he keeps coming up small against the hated Steelers.

You love how he keeps his emotions in check, stays in that whole sleepy-eyed, Joe Cool persona no matter how tense the situation. Or you want to see more fire in his belly, more yelling and fist-pumping and getting in teammates' faces.

This is what it's like for Joe Flacco these days. In his fourth season as the Ravens quarterback, it seems Ravens fans either love the guy or hate the guy. And that mostly depends -- here's a shocker -- on whether the Ravens won or lost the previous Sunday.

Nobody gets ripped like Flacco does after a Ravens loss, that's for sure. Unless it's Cam Cameron, the beleaguered offensive coordinator. In fact, there were times last season when the two of them could have listened to talk radio and played "Who Do They Hate More?" when reporting for work on Mondays.

And the amazing thing is, the Ravens had a great season in 2010. They finished 12-4. Imagine what would have happened to Flacco and Cameron if they finished 6-10. They would have had to sweep security mirrors under their cars every morning.

This is how crazy it gets for Flacco: He even gets ripped for his Pizza Hut commercials.

"Joe, it's pizza!" I heard a woman shout when the spot aired in a bar recently. "Smile! Pizza's supposed to be fun!"

Hoo, boy. You know it's a tough town when they're ripping the quarterback for not smiling. In a pizza commercial.

The thing is, Flacco's seemingly impressive resume doesn't seem to matter with the haters, either.

It doesn't matter that he set career highs with 3,622 passing yards and 25 touchdowns last season.

Doesn't matter that he has thrown for 3,000 yards in back-to-back seasons, a franchise first.

Doesn't matter that he keeps improving from year to year. And that he was the NFL's No. 2-rated passer (103.4), throwing 24 touchdowns and just five interceptions, over the final 14 games last season.

Doesn't matter that he's tied with Hall of Famer Dan Marino for the most wins (36) by a starting quarterback in his first three seasons.

The haters have this visceral dislike for how he plays the game, how he stands in the pocket, how he scrambles -- OK, it's not pretty. They hate how he reacts -- or doesn't react, to be more precise -- after a play blows up. They hate his body language on the sidelines when the Ravens are losing. I could go on.

So much of this, of course, has to do with Flacco's record against the Steelers, another thing that isn't pretty. And that's what the haters really focus on.

He's 2-6 against them, 0-6 when Ben Roethlisberger's in the lineup. And he has thrown in some clunker outings, as evidenced by his 68.5 rating in those games.

Flacco himself shrugs off his difficulties against the Steelers. It's a team game, he says. And he says he doesn't view Sunday's season opener against the Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium as any kind of gun-slinging showdown with Big Ben or the fearsome Steelers defense.

But until he puts up a big game against the Steelers and Roethlisberger, the critics will keep beating on him.

And the issue won't go away.

The other day, Ravens coach John Harbaugh was asked why he thought Flacco didn't play as well against the Steelers as he did against other teams.

"If you look at the numbers -- the quarterback rating and all that -- you can make that case," he said. "Specifically why that is ... I don't know. I'd be interested in your theories, though."

Yeah, right. I'm sure my phone will ring at any minute, with Harbaugh on the other end, ready to pick my brain.

But he won't find any theories here. I'm not nearly smart enough to figure that out. Besides, the great thing for Flacco is that his teammates understand he gets way too much of the blame for all this losing to the Steelers.

"I think Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback ... he's a winning quarterback," running back Ray Rice said the other day. "And people look at all this other stuff saying he didn't win a Super Bowl.

"I came in with Joe and we've been to the playoffs every year since I've been here. When you look at a quarterback, if it's based on winning, you have to look at Joe Flacco. And I still think he's a great quarterback and he's only gotten better this year."

Tell it to the haters, Ray.

Not that they'll listen.

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09-11-2011, 12:55 AM
Steelers Bringing Sack Attack to New OTs

Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher have a tough test with James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Saturday, September 10th, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Categories: 2011 Season Gameday, Mike Duffy, Week 1 vs Steelers

http://blogs.baltimoreravens.com/2011/0 ... o-new-ots/ (http://blogs.baltimoreravens.com/2011/09/10/steelers-bringing-sack-attack-to-new-ots/)

It’s been about a week since Michael Oher and Bryant McKinnie settled into their positions along the Ravens’ offensive line.

And Baltimore’s right and left tackles, respectively, couldn’t be thrown into a hotter fire with James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley of the Pittsburgh Steelers coming to town Sunday.

The two ferocious outside linebackers are the most-prolific sack tandem in the NFL, screaming off the edge with a rare mix of power, speed and aggressiveness.

The combination forces opposing offenses to alter blocking schemes to keep their quarterbacks upright.

“They have two premier pass rushers on the same team,” Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “That makes a big difference. So, you can’t really target a double team on any particular guy. They do a great job, not so much as creating free runners with their pressure package, but they create matchups.

“And they get all their rushes on all your different blockers at some point in time. Those two guys in particular are great leverage rushers. They do a great job with their hands and their leverage just working technique to beat a pass block.”

Last year, Harrison, a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and Woodley combined for 20 ½ sacks, one season after they totaled 23 ½ sacks.

In addition, they shattered the Steelers’ franchise record with 27 ½ in 2008, a mark that was originally set by Jason Gildon and Joey Porter in 2000 and Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene in 1994.

“They have all the tools,” said Oher. “They’re fast, strong, physical. It’s going to be a big challenge for us, but it’s all about technique and doing what you’re coached to do.”

In reality, Oher’s shift from left to right tackle isn’t a major change. The former first-round draft pick excelled there as a rookie during the 2009 campaign.

He’s been working closely with right guard Marshal Yanda, who occupied that same position the last time Oher was on the right side and faced Woodley.

And the transition for McKinnie, a Pro Bowl left tackle, mainly consists of learning the protection calls. A 10-year veteran, McKinnie feels he can pick up Harrison’s tendencies with diligent film study. :lol: :lol:

“There’s only so much stuff that you can run that I haven’t seen,” said McKinnie, who told reporters he got his weight down to 360 pounds (he reportedly checked in to Minnesota Vikings training camp around 400 pounds) since joining the Ravens on Aug. 24. “I’ve seen just about every move and figured out ways to counter moves. It’s just learning what the person who I’m playing against does.”

It might not be an ideal matchup to ease the starting offensive tackles into fresh roles, but the Ravens’ coaches believe that Oher and McKinnie will be prepared to handle the Harrison-Woodley challenge, especially considering they regularly square off against Ravens pass rushers like Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson in practice.

Still, the learning curve will be accelerated with the Steelers’ sacking duo.

“We feel good about our tackles,” said Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron. “We feel good about the men we have protecting, and we’re fortunate [that] we go against Suggs every day. We go against Haloti Ngata, we go against Jarret Johnson. That helps us tremendously.

“I feel great about where our tackles are going into this game.”