By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
BALTIMORE (AP) — There are few scenarios in which the Baltimore Ravens would be wary of facing a rookie quarterback starting for the first time on the road.READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Severe Storm Threat Prompts Alert Day Saturday
This is one of them.
“He’s No. 7 and his last name ends in `berger,’ so there’s a similarity there with a guy we just played,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Tennessee’s Zach Mettenberger.
Thankfully for Baltimore, Mettenberger is not yet in the same class as Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 340 yards and six touchdowns last Sunday night in Pittsburgh’s 43-23 rout.
Still, given the way the Ravens (5-4) have defended against the pass recently, they have absolutely no reason to be overconfident about facing the Titans (2-6) and their young quarterback at home on Sunday.
Baltimore has allowed 606 yards passing in its past two games, both defeats. The Ravens rank 24th in the NFL in pass defense, yielding an average of 263.2 yards per game.
After the debacle against Pittsburgh, Baltimore cut two cornerbacks and brought in two more in an effort to shake things up.
And now, the Ravens go up against a quarterback who has more in common with Roethlisberger than just name and number.
“He’s a big, strong-armed quarterback,” Harbaugh said. “I also happen to think that’s how they see him, along those lines of a Roethlisberger, because he’s the kind of a guy who can make every throw. He has a strong arm, he stands in the pocket, seems like he has good vision.”
Mettenberger and the Titans are coming off a bye. In his starting debut against Houston two weeks ago, the former LSU star went 27 for 41 for 299 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in a 30-16 defeat.
Some things to know about the Ravens-Titans matchup:
OHER RETURNS: It’s time for Titans right tackle Michael Oher to find out how it feels to be on the other sideline at noisy M&T Bank Stadium.
Oher played five seasons with Baltimore before signing with Tennessee as a free agent this past offseason.
“It’s going to be a fun experience — I think,” Oher said. “I played a lot of games there. It’ll be fun to see what the crowd is like being a visitor.”
Oher has started every game this season.
“Michael has worked hard,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “He was a guy that we were glad to get in here with our team.”READ MORE: Baltimore Police Stepping Up Deployment On Fourth Of July Weekend, Commissioner Says
BOUNCE-BACK MODE: The Ravens desperately need a win before their bye week.
First, they have to put the Pittsburgh loss behind them.
“If you’re looking toward the past, you can’t really get better as a team,” rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley said.
Quarterback Joe Flacco said: “You have to come in here and address what went wrong and move on. I wouldn’t say it’s the easiest thing to do, but it is something that we have to do, and I think we’re pretty good at doing it.”
SACK HAPPY: The Titans got five sacks against Houston and have 23 this season, ranked eighth in the NFL.
Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey leads the Titans with four sacks, one of 14 Tennessee players with at least one.
Flacco was sacked four times by Pittsburgh and has been sacked 13 times in nine games.
GOOD BYE: Tennessee lost six of seven before getting a well-timed breather last week that proved beneficial for Mettenberger.
“I think getting a lot of reps during the bye week is something that helps him not just prepare for a good defense that the Ravens have, but just learning the position,” Whisenhunt said.
“The bye week really helps you get more on the same page then actually playing in a game, where you have to get in and out of the huddle and get to the line and make the calls.”
Tennessee is the first and last team the Ravens will face this season coming off a bye.
“We’re going to have to make sure we overcome that,” Harbaugh said. “They’ll be attacking us with the ideas they’ve come up with over the last two weeks.”
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: The Ravens are in last place in the AFC North despite owning a winning record. The Titans are second-to-last, just ahead of Jacksonville.
Baltimore, however, still likes its chances of reaching the playoffs after missing out last year.
“I think we’re in a really good spot,” Flacco said. “We’ve been playing, for the most part, really consistently all year. We’ve had a few turnovers the last couple of games. If we eliminate those, I think our consistency is still there. I’m excited about getting after it the next half.”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)