By Samuel Njoku
The Ravens took the practice field on Wednesday in preparation for their match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium. The two will meet for the second time in a 14 day span. The Ravens got the best of Pittsburgh in Heinz field with Byron Leftwich under center. And though Coach Mike Tomlin has all but named Charlie Batch the starter heading towards this game, the Ravens will be prepared for anything.
“We’ll do the same thing we did last time and the same thing we really do every week,” said Harbaugh. “We’ll prepare for their offense. Their offense is very formidable. They have a big, physical offensive line. They’re very capable of running the ball very well and very aggressively. They have playmakers at every one of their skill positions that have to be defended and can score a touchdown at any time. They’ve got physical backs, too. So whatever quarterback ends up playing in this game, he’s going to be very capable of running their offense very well. And we’ve seen that before, we’ve seen it from experience.”
Experience would show that Baltimore handles the Pittsburgh Steelers quite well without Big Ben on the field. In fact, the Ravens are 5-0 against Pittsburgh when Ben is not in the lineup. Pittsburgh has a large task ahead of them as they travel to M&T Bank stadium where the Ravens are almost unbeatable. The last time anyone beat Baltimore at home was 2010, when Pittsburgh took out the Ravens in controversial fashion. But that was done without Roethlisberger, who will give it his all to play on Sunday.
“He’s in a different position than he was the last time we talked,” Tomlin told Baltimore reporters on Wednesday. “He threw a little bit on Monday. He’s scheduled to throw in some capacity today. We’ll see where the week will take us.”
Ben threw in a limited capacity on Wednesday and the consensus remains that he will not play against Baltimore. But the fact that he is making a push shows how desperate Pittsburgh is. The Ravens have owned the division for the second straight season. A win will all but lock up the title for Baltimore and force Pittsburgh to contend for a wild-card spot. Troy Polamalu and Antonio Brown know this and will make attempts to play on Sunday as well.
The return of Troy Polamalu will change how Baltimore approaches this game. The team will focus practice this week on fielding a faster offense. That entails a more spread look. Expect a lot of 3-4 WR sets to keep both the linebackers and Polamalu away from the line-of-scrimmage. The Ravens will couple these formations with the high-octane no huddle offense that seems to work to perfection at home this year.
Both teams are hobbled at this point of the season. But with Ben Roethlisberger unlikely to play, Baltimore has a good chance to sweep the Steelers for the second straight season.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.