Miller: They took it to us, no denying it

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The Steelers do not need to see video of the games from a year ago to know what happened when they played Baltimore. They can look at their backsides, where Ravens boot marks remain.


Tomorrow
  • Game: Steelers (5-2) vs. Baltimore Ravens (4-3).
  • When: 8:30 p.m.
  • Where: Heinz Field.
  • TV: ESPN, WTAE.

"They kicked our butts,'' linebacker Clark Haggans said.

Baltimore won the two games against the Steelers by a combined 58-7.

"They kind of took it to us twice last year, there's no denying that,'' tight end Heath Miller said. "We weren't able to run the football against them both games, and I think they were just a little more physical than we were both times."

Willie Parker ran 23 times for 51 yards and Baltimore outrushed them, 217-84. The Ravens sacked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger 14 times -- 30 percent of his total for the season -- and intercepted him four times. On one sack, linebacker Bart Scott hit him harder than he has been hit in his life, Roethlisberger said.

The Steelers won six of eight in the second half of last season, both loses to Baltimore, which won the division going away at 13-3. The Steelers still had a chance to earn a wild-card playoff spot when they played the Ravens at home in the next-to-last game of the season but were rubbed out, 31-7.

"You got embarrassed twice, one here, once there," Roethlisberger said. "It's not a good thing. It leaves a little taste in your mouth."

It was ugly.

"When we got done with what we got done with, we knew we had made a statement and I think they kind of understood it," Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis told Pittsburgh reporters this week.

Oh, they understood. Those beatings by Baltimore last season sunk in so well they may be among the reasons the Steelers take a 5-2 record into a game tomorrow night against the Ravens (4-3) at Heinz Field. The Steelers' new coaching staff that includes plenty of holdovers from the old one studied tapes of those two games and decided to take action.

They worked on things the Ravens exploited, particularly what Baltimore did to them defensively. The Ravens did what the Steelers like to think they do to other teams defensively, which made it easier for their offense to work on it in training camp.

"When you have a problem, other teams are going to copy it, it's a copy-cat league," offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. "We've seen some of that -- we've seen a ton of it in training camp -- that were very similar, so we know the system works. It's one thing to have a hat on hat, it's another thing to block the cat."

The Ravens' fluid 3-4 defense confused the Steelers to the point they say they did not even know who to block, the receivers did not run proper "hots" and Roethlisberger and Parker paid dearly for it.

"We started out slow and all of a sudden we're throwing the ball left and right and we're feeding into their confusion and what they like to do on defense," guard Alan Faneca remembered.

Hines Ward admitted they weren't prepared for what Baltimore threw at them.

"We look at the score, 58-7, the past two games we played them, that's a little frustrating, but it was a lot to do with us more than with them.

"They came in with a defensive scheme that we really weren't prepared for. We weren't prepared, we didn't know how to protect it and go about it, that's why the numbers are a little skewed."

• •

NOTES -- G Alan Faneca returned to practice yesterday and will start tomorrow. Faneca missed Friday's practice with a back problem. He's officially listed as probable. ... DE Aaron Smith (knee) missed practice again and will not dress for tomorrow's game, although he's still listed as doubtful. FS Ryan Clark (spleen) and TE Jerame Tuman (back) have been declared out.


Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com .


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