Steelers Game 15 Matchup: vs. Ravens
Ben Roethlisberger congratulates Dennis Dixon after Dixon threw a touchdown against the Ravens on Nov. 29. Roethlisberger did not play because of concussion symptoms.
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When the Ravens have the ball: They had modest success rushing in the first meeting, getting 88 yards on 19 carries from RB Ray Rice and finishing with 132 yards on 29 attempts. While the Steelers have not exactly been stingy against the run the past four games, the Ravens would be crazy not to attack the deep middle of the field, where safeties Ryan Clark and Tyrone Carter have been vulnerable to big plays. Joe Flacco passed for 234 yards and four TDs in last week's victory against the Bears, even though he didn't complete a pass longer than 32 yards. But he passed for 289 yards in the first meeting and even completed a couple of deep throws to Mark Clayton to set up a pair of touchdowns. The Steelers have not had an interception in the past six games or a takeaway in the past three games.
When the Steelers have the ball: Ben Roethlisberger completed 54 of 97 passes for 692 yards, three touchdowns and only one interception in three victories against the Ravens last season, but he did not play in the first meeting because of post-concussion symptons. If the Steelers are to beat the Ravens and win their final two games to keep alive their playoff hopes, Roethlisberger will have to play as he did against the Packers, when he threw for 503 yards. That's because the Steelers cannot rely on their defense, which continues to collapse in the fourth quarter. Roethlisberger, though, has been sacked 13 times in the past two games and his ability to not turn the ball over in those two games, given the pressure, is almost astounding. DE/LB Terrell Suggs, who did not play in the first meeting because of a knee injury, has started the past two games.
S Ed Reed: The Steelers proved again they are not afraid to throw at any cornerback, not even Green Bay's Charles Woodson. But one player they are always aware of, and have often tried to avoid, is Ravens free safety Ed Reed, who has 46 career interceptions, including six for touchdowns, in 117 career games. Reed has not played since the first meeting because of a hip/groin injury and his status is unknown. He has three interceptions this season, including a 52-yard scoring return, but he hasn't had an interception in the past seven games against the Steelers.
Game: Baltimore Ravens (8-6) at Steelers (7-7).
When: 1 p.m.
Where: Heinz Field
Radio: WDVE-FM (102.5), WBGG-AM (970).
The Ravens have won three of their past four games, including a 20-17 overtime victory against the Steelers Nov. 29, and can effectively eliminate the Steelers from wild-card playoff consideration with a victory. The Steelers have won the past three meetings against the Ravens at Heinz Field. The victory against the Packers was their fourth against a team with a winning record (Chargers, Vikings and Broncos are the others).
To win, the Ravens must ...
1. Send men at Ben. The return of Suggs should help pressure Roethlisberger, who has been sacked 13 times in the past two games.
2. Leave Clark in the dark. Most of the nine pass plays of 40 yards or longer against the Steelers occur in the middle of the field.
3. Keep Ray at bay. MLB Ray Lewis had a team-high nine tackles in the first meeting for a defense that ranks No. 4 in the league.
To win, the Steelers must ...
1. Not be nice to Rice. He has rushed for 395 yards on 62 carries in the past four games and tends to break tackles after short catches.
2. Get Flacco out of whack-o. After a slow start, he had nearly 300 yards, a touchdown and no picks in the first meeting against the Steelers.
3. Throw far on Carr. The big play has returned to the Steelers' offense and they will not back off from attacking CB Chris Carr.
First Published December 27, 2009 12:00 am