Each week the Steel City Underground staff will put their brilliant minds to task in order to come up with their keys to the game, or, those players, coaching decisions, or situations which could determine the outcome of the game.
Brian E. Roach
The Ravens are a decimated team. They have so many injuries that I am sometimes amazed they can still field a team. Their offensive line is missing anyone of elite stature at this point, and the only real hope they have of any offensive output is via the run.
Based on last week, that doesn't bode well for us, so the key is, control the run. Make the Ravens have to throw the ball, then let Flacco go whacko.
I do not see this line holding up in pass protection, so the Steelers better figure out how to better defend the run. The Ravens running backs (Terrance West, Javroius Allen and Alex Collins) are not anything to write home about, although Collins did run for 82 yards in the loss to Jacksonville. If the Steelers play sound run defense, with good gap support I think that they'll be able to come out of Baltimore with a victory. That and
Ben has to practice what he preached this week, and stop forcing things - take what's there and move on.
The Ravens have no identity as a team right now. Their QB is dealing with a Tony Romo type nagging back injury and the entire team is trying to get their bodies back on Eastern Time after being in London, England for a beat down from the Jaguars. The 18-hour flight back had to be something.
After the Chicago Bears game and the Steelers inability to defend the run, what will be the response from Coach Butler with Terrance West, Javorius Allen and Alex Collins trying to duplicate that effort?
I’m beating a dead horse here wanting to see a different look at ROLB but I’d settle for better play from all of the defense. Know your assignments and communication is the key.
As far as the offense, Ben nailed it when he acknowledged that AB cannot be his only target. He has to take what’s given to him even if that means Ben needs to use his legs to gain some yardage or a QB sneak on 3rd and short. He’s a big, strong guy who’s hard to get down.
Play to that strength. If Pittsburgh can be 80% better on 3rd Downs they win.
I've got two keys to the game: run defense and Big Ben. The Ravens come in with the 4th best rushing attack despite the decimation all across their offensive line. Three of their backs have over 100 yards rushing even though Joe Flacco has been even worse than usual. After giving up 220 rushing yards last week, have the Steelers defense made the proper adjustments? Big Ben is my second key to the game because he's been absolutely dreadful at M&T Bank Stadium.
After last week's average performance, another game that was on the road, will he step up to the plate? History tells us not. However, the check-downs and short routes were there all last week, and if he took advantage of them, we would've easily come out with a win. Can Ben take a step back from the big plays and beat the Ravens with dinks and dunks? It'll be a test of his patience.
My key is the pressure on Flacco. They already got a makeshift offensive line working for them over in Baltimore, so it only makes sense to turn up the pressure. Hopefully, the Steelers can get T.J. and/or Tuitt back for this one and they would obviously help.
The Ravens run game doesn't scare anybody right now (just ask West on my fantasy team) so if they wanna win, they're gonna need Mr. "Elite" to win it for them.
That will be hard to do with Bud and others breathing down his neck. I imagine we will see some defensive backs coming in hot as well, and I think that's a good strategy. If Steelers can register at least two sacks on top of some QB hits and pressures, the tables should be turned in their favor.
I have no key other than to win. Just like the late Al Davis used to say "Just win baby!" That might be sacrilege to apply that toward the Steelers, but I don't care at this point. They have always been miserable when playing against the Ravens no matter where the game is at, and more so in Baltimore.
I'm about the survivor mentality. They can play as ugly as last week, so long as it ends with a "W". This is a must-win game in the division, but most importantly, in the AFC. Start padding that record so they can hopefully get a bye in the playoffs.
My key to the game is Chris Boswell. The Steelers offense has very clearly struggled this season and a matchup versus the Ravens is a tough one. This is a defense where our offense could struggle even when on a hot streak.
So all things considered, I could easily see this game being one where Boswell will be attempting multiple field goals. We've seen a handful of AFC North games decided by kickers.
Years ago it was Josh Scobee's incompetence who arguably made the Steelers lose to Baltimore. Last season we saw the Steelers beat Cincinnati in a game where Boswell made six field goals.
Boswell being clutch and making all his kicks will play a huge role in the Steelers getting a W this week.
The Steelers need to get their heads in the game. Plenty of distractions - poor tackling, lateral movement down the defensive line that resulted in poor stopping power in run D, low energy in play calling, poor adaptability.
Put the past far, far, far in the past and use the rivalry to motivate.
On offense, they need to run more up-tempo plays and keep the Ravens from zeroing in - and this Ravens D is serious, all business - so don't give them time to get set or adjust and jam the ball down their throats and expose a weakness in the defensive backfield. Big week for the big week for offensive line to show why they are among best in the league.
Defensively, fewer mistakes, better tackling and they cannot let Flacco establish drives. LBs need to be allowed to drop into coverage as well.
Special teams had been great. Let's get back to heads-up play there in week 4. I'd love to see possible 2 TE set now and then but won't hold my breath just yet that Todd Haley will pull that trigger.