Tag Archives: Baltimore

Fox News Confirms,Ben Roethlisberger has a sprained right shoulder and his status for Sunday’s showdown with AFC North rival Baltimore is uncertain.

The worst possible scenario has happened to Mike Tomlin and his Pittsburgh Steelers heading into an AFC Showdown with the Baltimore Ravens. Ben Roethlisberger has suffered a sprained right shoulder and might not be available to play against the Ravens. If the Steelers can win the game, they would be tied for first place in the AFC North. The Pittsb...

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

Around The AFC North: Ravens’ Offense, Secondary Looks To Lead Baltimore Back to Conference Championship


Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 Schedule Preview Week 11: vs. Baltimore Ravens


It started in Week 1 last year, and now the NFL makes its fanbase wait for the first installment of its best rivalry until Week 11.

I'm sure neither team particularly cares when they play each other. It's usually fitting of whatever hyperbole NBC will add for its Sunday Night Football match-up.

In an alternate series breaking down contenders in the AFC, our brethren at Baltimore Beatdown implied disagreement with BTSC's assessment that the Ravens will have more difficulty defending its AFC North crown than they had in winning it in 2011. While this game won't decide everything, it will likely be a big step in solving the AFC playoff puzzle.

Ravens Losses

LG Ben Grubbs packed up and moved his things to New Orleans while LB Jarrett Johnson exited stage west to San Diego. While both talented players, good teams lose players every year, and the better teams are able to make up for that with little - if any - loss. In the Ravens' case, Johnson's loss will be felt more than Grubbs' loss will be, but their scheme and tradition of defense will survive, the same way as it has for the last decade.

With QB Joe Flacco (no extension) and RB Ray Rice (franchised) not having signed long-term extensions yet this off-season but both showing up to minicamp yesterday, they appear to have many components of last year's AFC runner-up in place.

Except for that Terrell Suggs guy.

There's no replacing a player of his caliber, and to some extent, the defense will have to alter original plans without the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. They'll expect to get pressure from rookie Courtney Upshaw and veteran Paul Kruger, and it's very well possible they could get that pressure from a combination of those two, but new defensive coordinator Dean Pees' has a challenge from the get-to.

Ravens Improvements

The continued development of CB LaDarius Webb and stand-up seasons from CB Cary Williams and SS Bernard Pierce have the Ravens secondary poised to become the strength of their team. Second-year CB Jimmy Smith will likely vie for Williams' starting position, but however they mix it, they have as good a nucleus of cornerbacks as any other team in the league. As soon as FS Ed Reed finishes his yearly raise request, and arrives at training camp in July, the Ravens will show a nice mix of experience, versatility and talent among their defensive backfield.

Baltimore is a solid and deep team all-around, and could possibly even have Suggs back for this game (his words). It will likely be another classic match-up - one of two they'll play against each other between Weeks 11 and 13.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

Breaking Down the AFC Playoff Contenders: Baltimore Will Have Tougher Time Defending Title Than It Had Winning it


The Baltimore Ravens were the 2011 AFC North Champions. They came close to representing the AFC in the Super Bowl.

These facts are, as they say, undisputed.

in the NFL, you're either growing or you're dying. I'm not suggesting Baltimore is a bad team or they're not capable of winning 10+ games again, but look at their offseason. Did they improve their team?

There's something to be said for internal improvement, true, and they have talent at most positions. But in what way are they getting better? I'm hearing nothing but great things about the Steelers' draft class, and their main challenge is amongst themselves, not their opponents. Wallace is in a contract year, Brown and Sanders are both looking strong, the offensive line is revamped, could be the most athletic defense they will have put out there in some time (Tomlin coaches athletes, that's his MO). I can't say Pittsburgh will walk away with the division, but I see more improvement from last season there than I do in Baltimore.

And keep in mind, just like a few years Pittsburgh beat Baltimore out, they tied at the top of the division, and Baltimore won the tie-breaker on a last-second play. The difference in those two teams was far less than Baltimore likes to admit.

Pittsburgh would have struggled to beat any team on the road in the condition they were in for the Wild Card Round. Health is just as much a part of a championship team as anything else. They didn't have it. But how well did Baltimore play against Houston? Did the Ravens peak in time for the playoffs?

In all fairness, I thought the Ravens' divisional round and conference championship games were poorly play by all three teams involved. In fact, Houston would have beaten both of those teams if they had better quarterback play. Credit to Joe Flacco and Tom Brady, who made plays in their respective games to help their teams win, but T.J. Yates was easily the worst quarterback in the AFC playoffs last season. Houston's last three drives, down 20-13, Yates threw two interceptions and failed to convert on 4th and short.

Flacco didn't have the turnovers, but was equally futile in moving the ball. The Ravens couldn't run the ball (tough to do against Houston) and had 227 yards total. TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY SEVEN YARDS. How often does that get you 20 points if you're playing a reasonably talented quarterback? Houston turned the ball over four times, and still matched Baltimore with 63 plays. The Ravens were 4-for-16 on 3rd down. Not to take anything away from Houston's defense, which was one of the best units in the NFL last season, but the Ravens didn't win that game as much as they allowed the Texans to lose it. Which Yates did. Spectacularly.

Against New England, 51 Ravens players did enough to secure a win. One failed to secure a pass and one lived out the ultimate nightmare for any player in any sport.

Making it to two consecutive conference championships is an anomaly. The Jets advanced in both 2009 and 2010, lost both games and missed the playoffs in 2011. Pittsburgh defeated the Jets, and the Packers defeated the Bears in 2010, neither Pittsburgh nor Green Bay won a 2011 playoff game.

The Colts, Saints and Vikings all made their respective 2009 conference championship games, none of them won a playoff game in 2010.

It's not impossible, but recent history shows how difficult it is to reach the summit and stay there, especially when you can't quite get to the top. Baltimore certainly has the talent, but with an improved division and a first-place schedule, they'll need more than just health to again stand at the top of the AFC North.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Balled Too Hard? Timetable for Terrell Suggs’ Return to Baltimore Varies

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The timetable on the return of njured Ravens DE Terrell Suggs, as well as the severity of his injury, are jumping around, much like a football player does when playing pick-up basketball in the offseason.

Suggs told his followers on Twitter he plans to play in 2012, which isn't all that shocking of a statement. His ability to play, and the quality of his game upon his return is more of the question.

At the heart of the matter, though, is whether Suggs - or any NFL player under contract - is allowed to collect contract money in a year in which they are injured during a non-football activity that could result in injury.

Despite several reports suggesting the injury itself could cost him the season, Suggs told ESPN's Rachel Nichols (who reported via Twitter) it's only a partial tear of his Achilles, and he expects to play in 2012.

With that proclamation in mind, it's fair to point out most players have team-added clauses in their contracts which would not cover non-football injuries. Also, Suggs has said he did not injure it playing basketball, he injured it in conditioning drills while working out in Arizona.

One could make the argument playing basketball is a conditioning drill, however, and that's very often where players would stand on the issue. Playing basketball assumes certain risk of injury, just like running a wind sprint does (just ask Steelers RT Willie Colon). Both obviously help a player in the conditioning process.

His contract aside, it would seem more logical for Suggs to do everything he could to get on the field, in the event the Ravens press the issue and look to void out certain monies from his deal.

So his return could mean he comes back at less than 100 percent, something the Ravens may not want, and be motivated to pay him all the same to prevent further injury if he's forced to return earlier than he probably should.

It's the dirty side to the game, and many would simply hope an organization like Baltimore would pinch pennies (even if it's a few billion pennies) and force a cornerstone defensive player to risk further injury at an increasing age (Suggs turns 30 in October).

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Is Baltimore Looking to Move to 23 to Take LB Dont’a Hightower?

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ESPN's AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley summarized a bit of the latest log to the Steelers/Ravens burning inferno, mentioning the teams likely have many of the same players targeted for their respective first round picks in Thursday's draft.

Some of this could be fueled by a recent interview Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome had on the Ravens web site, and even more could be grounded in the mock draft done by SI's Peter King earlier this week - who had Baltimore trading up to No. 23 with Detroit, and taking Alabama LB Dont'a Hightower.

King is one of the rare football writers who fully admits to the lack of success (whatever that means) in his mock draft, but that trade does make a lot of sense for the Ravens. King doesn't mention it, but Baltimore has been very active and aggressive in the draft in recent years. They traded up in 2008 (Joe Flacco) and 2009 (Michael Oher) and traded out of the first round in 2010 (with Denver, for QB Tim Tebow).

Keep in mind, King isn't claiming that pick is something in the works, just his opinion of how the draft may go.

Incidentally, King has the Steelers taking OG Kevin Zeitler at 24, after Baltimore takes Hightower at 23. Zeitler is also a guy both teams should consider. So is Coutney Upshaw, who, if not for his marked character, wouldn't likely be available that low in the first round.

Hightower has been the focal point of many mock drafts (for whatever that is worth) for the Steelers, and both teams are looking for future assistance in replacing long-standing defensive captains. ILB James Farrior was released this off-season after 10 seasons with the Steelers. Ravens LB Ray Lewis will be 37 years old at the start of the 2012 season, and Baltimore has a solid enough roster top to bottom they're in a position to draft a highly talented successor.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Memorable Steelers Games: Steelers Beat Baltimore (Colts) in the Playoffs


BTSC writers are collaborating on a series highlighting their favorite memories involving Steelers games. Whether these are wins or losses, in this decade or the last, Steelers games mean something different to everyone. Here is an installment in that series. - nc

Unless you are a season ticket holder, and perhaps even if you are, attending a Steelers playoff game can be a pretty special event. I consider myself fortunate to be able to count as one of my life memories a divisional playoff game against the Baltimore Colts in 1976.

The opportunity was a surprise on a number of different levels. First of all, no one was expecting the Steelers to make the playoffs that year. Most had written them off after a horrendous 1-4 start and the loss of quarterback Terry Bradshaw for most of the year after Cleveland Brown defensive end Joe ‘Turkey’ Jones had driven Bradshaw’s head into the ground like a tent stake in an early season game. Rallying behind what many consider one of the great sustained defensive performances of all time and 1,000 yard rushing performances from both Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier, Pittsburgh managed to crawl back into the playoff picture.

The circumstances of the team’s comeback had a particular benefit for me as well. I had been living in Philadelphia since the beginning of the 1970s and had watched the Steelers dynasty from afar. Earlier that year my brother had gotten married to a woman from Baltimore. And while he had since moved to California, I remained closely connected to my sister in law’s family. The game was to be played in Baltimore, so I called to determine if it were possible to obtain tickets to the game. I wasn’t optimistic. After all, this was a playoff game. So, you can imagine my surprise when the response to my request was; no problem. There are plenty of tickets available. How many do you need?

On a mild, sunny, Sunday morning, I made the two hour drive down I-95 to Baltimore with a friend and my fiancé. We met with four in laws at their parent’s house and then walked a mile or so to old Memorial Stadium to take in the game. To this day I have no idea why there was no greater interest among Baltimore fans. It was a great match up, at least on paper. The Colts had a solid team led by quarterback Bert Jones, like Bradshaw a brash, Louisiana kid. The Steelers were the two time defending Super Bowl Champs. As it turned out the stadium was full that day, but largely because of a phenomena that we are all familiar with today. At least a quarter of the crowd and probably more were Steelers fans.

Our seats were near the 50 yard line directly behind the Colts’ bench. So close, in fact, that we had to stand throughout the game just to see over the heads of the players at the action on the field. The perspective was one I had never experienced before and it deeply enriched how I viewed and understood the game.

Pittsburgh received the opening kickoff, run back by Rocky who was crushed and injured by the Colts’ coverage unit. Although we weren’t close enough to hear exactly what they were saying, it was clear that the Colts bench was taunting the Steelers, laughing at them. As the Steelers medical staff was ministering to Bleier, the offensive line took the field; Jon Kolb, Sam Davis, Mike Webster. I could see their faces as the glared at the Colts bench. As the old saying goes, if looks could kill. The Colts were feisty, certain that a tone had been set that would result in their dominance this afternoon.

The Steelers broke the huddle and lined up for their first play. Everyone in the stadium, and I suspect, watching on national television knew what was coming next. Steeler football. Franco to the right, or Franco up the middle, or Franco to the left, right? What actually happened seemed like a scene from a bad football movie. Bradshaw gave a play action fake and set up to pass. Although football is generally speaking, a very telegenic game, there are certain advantages to watching a game at the stadium. You can often see a play unfold in a manner that the restricted focus of a television set does not reveal. And what was unfolding at that moment in Memorial Stadium caused Colts fans to gasp in horror as Steelers fans watched in giddy disbelief. Wide receiver Frank Lewis was fleeing down the near sideline at least ten yards beyond the nearest Colt defender. Lewis was the Mike Wallace of his day; the Grambling wide out was the fastest player on the team. This is why it seemed like something out of a bad football movie, because in real life nobody ever gets that open. Bradshaw lofted a perfect pass that caught Lewis in stride. At that point it looked like a touch football game played in the backyard when you catch a pass over your eight year old cousin. Lewis, who could not have been caught if he had just a step on a defender, romped to the end zone, rotating the ball around his waist in celebration every step of the way. The competitive phase of the game was over.

However, the Steelers were in no way finished with punishing the Colts. Someone once described watching the 70s Steel Curtain defense like being at the circus when the bears were loose. The Pittsburgh front four of Dwight White, Ernie Holmes, Joe Greene and L C Greenwood were clearly intent on killing Bert Jones. I could hear them being egged on and encouraged from the Steeler bench across the way as they overwhelmed the Baltimore offensive line. The only reason that Jones survived is that he was a mobile quarterback who, though sacked and hit often, managed to avoid the ‘kill’ shots that the Steeler pass rusher were seeking to deliver. Meanwhile, back on offense, Franco was rushing for 150 yards…in the first half. They shouldn’t have messed with Rocky.

Baltimore was taking a beating in the stands as well. I don’t consider myself much of a smack talker, but I was talking smack that day; as was every other Steelers fan that I could see. The bulk of the Steelers fan contingent was located in the baseball bleachers. They were making a constant celebratory din. I don’t think I would have behaved that way if I have been in Cleveland, and certainly not in Philadelphia. But there was a pathetic passivity that characterized the Colts fans. And there was absolutely no fear on the part of the Pittsburgh fans. I usually associate playoff games as tense sort of white knuckle affairs for the most part. The stakes are so high and the games are often close throughout. But this was a butt whippin’ from the get go; the type of game you wish for but normally never get, sixty minutes of almost pure enjoyment. My fiancé who was not born in America became a Steelers fan that day. My friend who was a Philadelphian developed a secondary allegiance to Pittsburgh as well.

The final score was 41-14, and believe me the game was not nearly that close. In fact, I’m at a loss to remember how the Colts managed those two touchdowns. I am one of those who believe that this particular Steelers team was the greatest that the franchise has ever fielded. How could that be if they never earned a Lombardi? In spite of the absolute dominance exhibited in this game, the seeds of tragedy were sown that afternoon. Late in the game, Franco would suffer a rib injury. We were unaware then, but neither Franco nor Rocky would be available for the conference championship game the following week. With a backfield consisting of Bradshaw and Frenchy Fuqua, Pittsburgh would fall to the Raiders in Oakland, ending their season.

Is tragic too strong a term? A little context might help. As difficult as it might be to believe, the defending world champs went into the playoffs being viewed as a Cinderella team, so amazing and heroic was their comeback during the season. They were on the brink of being the first team to win three Super Bowls and to do so consecutively. But, not only did they lose, they lost to the Raiders.

Let me explain something to younger readers or to those who are relatively new to following this team. We have some pretty potent rivalries that are ongoing. I dislike the Ravens. I dislike the Patriots. And I don’t have much use for the Ohio teams. But in the 70s the operative word for the Oakland Raiders was HATE. The rivalry was relatively short lived, but incredibly intense and meaningful. Both teams were highly talented, breathtakingly mean and wore black as their primary colors. Doesn’t that pretty much describe Steelers/Ravens you ask? With due respect, no. Sure, there are mean folks and rough play associated with Steelers/Ravens; Ray Lewis and James Harrison (or Joey Porter), Terrell Suggs and Hines Ward. But the Raiders had Jack Tatum, a strong safety who paralyzed a man (New England WR Darryl Stingley) in a preseason game and was pretty much unapologetic for having done so. On the Pittsburgh side, in spite of the well deserved reputations for belligerence earned by the likes of Joe Greene and Jack Lambert, the most genuinely feared player was defensive tackle Ernie Holmes who once shot and wounded an Ohio State Trooper with a high powered rifle. The actions and rhetoric exchanged was such that members of the two organizations eventually ended up in court.

Nor was this just about a bunch of bullies brawling in some back alley. For five consecutive years these two teams met in the playoffs beginning with the Immaculate Reception Game. In three of those five games the winner went on to be World Champion. The only good thing about this was the fact that the two communities were separated by thousands of miles, therefore civilian casualties were kept to a minimum.

A final note on the Colt playoff game. It was around sunset when we started walking back from the stadium. After walking a couple of blocks we had to dodge fire engines rushing back toward the stadium. This being in the pre cell phone era, we were unaware of what transpired until we were able to get in front of a television set some time later. A small airplane crashed into the upper deck of Memorial Stadium not long after the conclusion of the game. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.

Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

Ed Bouchette: ‘Ward Would Love To Play In Baltimore’

PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — Steelers’ Insider Ed Bouchette joined the Fan Morning Show Thursday to discuss the Steelers’ decision to cut veteran wide receiver Hines Ward.

The Steelers made the announcement on Wednesday, saying they plan to release Ward “of his contract prior to the start of the 2012 NFL calendar year.”

And news of Ward’s release has created a stir among Steelers Nation.

In a statement, Ward said he did everything in his power to remain a Steeler. Bouchette said Ward told the Steelers he would take a pay cut.

“First of all, last year when they demoted him, he didn’t kick and moan and scream about it, and you know, he told them he’d take a pay cut,” said Bouchette. “They never talked money though and the longer that went on, you obviously saw that their intent was not to accept him at even minimum wage.

“If the coaches don’t believe a player still has it, it’s hard for the front office to force that player on him, even someone with the stature of Hines Ward because you can play that out, what happens if Art Rooney says to Mike Tomlin, ‘we want him here another year, you have to take him.’ Well, that doesn’t mean Mike Tomlin has to play him,” Bouchette added.

Click the link below to listen to the full interview:

Bouchette also touched on where Ward could land next season, even if it’s playing for a rival.

“I think he’d love to play in Baltimore. I don’t think he’s thinking of legacies right now,” he said of Ward. “These guys want to play… once they quit, they’re done.”

Bouchette says he believes Ward will generate interest among some team.

“He turns 36 next week, so teams are going to look at that, but I think there will be some interest for varied reasons,” he said. “Some being that not everybody has a good stock of receivers and they look at this guy as a possession receiver, not a speed guy, obviously. Someone who can get you maybe that 3rd-and-5 on a pass over the middle, and maybe be next to someone who is young and needs to be shown how to act professionally, how to run routes and that kind of thing. The way Hines has done for a lot of young receiver here. But I don’t think he’s a starter anymore, and I don’t know where he’s going to land.”

With Ward not coming back next season, Bouchette talked about how that will impact the Steelers.

“Actually, the perfect spot for Hines Ward was with the Steelers, but the coaching staff didn’t want him, and I’m not sitting here saying they’re wrong either. I just think that Ward could have fit in here next year in a role as three or four,” Bouchette added. “They don’t know if they’re going to get [Jerricho] Cotchery back, first of all, and that would be the first guy I go after right now if I’m the Steelers. Without him, and if no one signs Wallace, you have those three young guys and Emmanuel Sanders’ history of injuries.”

Steelers To Release Hines Ward (2/29/12)

Filed under: Football, Heard on The Fan, Sports, Steelers Tagged: Baltimore Ravens, Ed Bouchette, Hines Ward, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers

Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers

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Baltimore has winning formula

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BALTIMORE -- If style points and offensive fireworks meant anything, the Baltimore Ravens wouldn't stand a chance of making it to the AFC championship. Playing defense and protecting the football are what they do best, and that formula led to a 20-13 victory against the Houston Texans Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, putting Baltimore in the AFC title game against the New England Patriots.

Source: post-gazette.com - Steelers/NFL

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