By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens suffered a heart breaking loss to the Green Bay Packers at home. They’ll try to wash that bad taste out of their mouths when they go to battle against their biggest rival in the Pittsburgh Steelers. Similar to Baltimore, Pittsburgh has struggled a great deal to gain any traction in 2013. But with Pittsburgh sitting at 1-4, it’s clear that they need this win more than the Ravens. And that makes them an extremely dangerous football team.
The Steelers haven’t been the best on offense so far this season. With their current record, a lot of the issues with this unit have been amplified. But the Steelers have had similar issues for years with this team. Their defense has simply been dominant enough to mask some of their deficiencies. The main issue with this team shouldn’t sound too foreign to Ravens fans. Pittsburgh has been brutal when it comes to protecting the quarterback. They just don’t have the personnel to keep Ben Roethlisberger comfortable in the pocket. Pittsburgh made a trade with the Arizona Cardinals for Levi Brown to help solidify the O-line but the left tackle injured his triceps during warm ups last Sunday against the New York Jets. It’s been that kind of season for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Expect the Steelers to try and keep the Ravens from pinning their ears back and charging after the quarterback with draws and screen plays. Nobody knows the Ravens better than the Pittsburgh Steelers and they’ll use that to their advantage. Of course that kind of familiarity works both ways on the football field. When all else fails for Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger will attempt to extend plays with his legs as he’s done for so many years. It will be imperative for the Ravens corners to keep up with the Steelers receivers in order to avoid the big play.
Gone are the days when James Harrison would line up opposite the Ravens offensive front. The veterans that remain on the Steelers defense are a bit long in the tooth. But as Pittsburgh proved against New York on Sunday, they can still play football effectively when needed. Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley have been doing their homework on the inconsistent line of the Baltimore Ravens. They’ll look to bring pressure on Joe Flacco with stunts and delayed blitzes. Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu will be active in the secondary as the Ravens possess speed on the outside with Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones.
Don’t expect the Steelers to do anything different from what teams before them have done against Baltimore this season: Wreak havoc at the line of scrimmage to eradicate the running game and force Flacco to make quick decisions with the football. For Baltimore to be successful the receivers will need to get open quickly and hold on to the football. It’s been a difficult task for them so far this year.
Mike Tomlin is in his sixth year as the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach with an overall record of 64-37. He won his first and only Super Bowl in 2009 against the Arizona Cardinals. The Steelers currently lead the All-Time record against the Ravens 22-15.
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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. Samuel Njoku is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.