Pittsburgh Steelers Game Day: Baltimore Ravens Preview
Welcome to the most comprehensive Pittsburgh Steelers Game Day Preview on the internet! Steel City Underground is where you come to find everything you need to know about the Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich (@PghSportsNation) brings you inside the huddle for both teams, providing all fans with a weekly game story, Steelers keys to success, score prediction, game information, a detailed breakdown of each team, individual stats, team stats, and team injury reports. Heck, you’ll even know the weather at kickoff! The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!
Steelers intend to go out fighting if that’s how the odds end up
Devlin “Duck” Hodges was the toast of the town when he started off 3-0 for the Steelers. The quarterback of Samford, not to be confused with Stanford, was an undrafted free agent, cut by the team at the end of training camp, only to be resigned after the team traded Josh Dobbs away.
No one ever dreamed that Hodges would see one play this year, let alone almost leading the team to a playoff spot after Ben Roethlisberger was injured in week two, and Mason Rudolph suffered not one, but two different injuries that lead to Hodges manning the Pittsburgh offense.
He has done about as good as anyone could’ve written for a rags to riches Hollywood-esque style story as the Steelers quarterback. He doesn’t have the greatest arm, but what he lacked in pure talent, was offset by a cool presence in the pocket and a brash confidence that would make any Southerner proud.
Since the Buffalo Bills game, Hodges has hit a wall, throwing just one touchdown and six interceptions. He has also been sacked seven times in the last two games.
“Maybe I was trying to force a ball a little bit instead of what they’re giving me,” Duck Hodges said about his last two games. “I have to take a step back a little bit and go back to how I was playing those first couple games and taking what the defense gives me.
“I’ve got all the confidence in the world in myself and my guys. Now, we just have to go out and do it.”
If the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7) are to make the playoffs, they’ll need to beat their rivals in Baltimore (13-2) and then hope Houston finds a way to take care of Tennessee. The Texans may or may not have anything to play for depending on the outcome of the Chiefs-Chargers game at 1:00 p.m. this Sunday afternoon.
First, to beat a team that has already wrapped up the AFC #1 seed, and will be resting several key starters, including probable MVP Lamar Jackson, the Steelers will need their offense, namely their quarterback, to score more than just one offensive touchdown, something Pittsburgh has done in seven out the last eight games.
His teammates and coaches still believe he can right the ship and create the storybook ending. They want the Duck that played aggressive and without fear.
“Yeah, you can be aggressive — just throw it to the right person,” said Steelers WR Juju Smith-Schuster with a smile.
“That’s it. ‘Duck, c’mon man, we’re not playing duck-duck-goose. Throw it to the right person, Duck. Let’s get it.’”
Smith-Schuster is looking to reestablish himself in the passing game after a down season racked with injuries. Like Hodges, Juju has one game left to make something of the 2019 season.
“I would expect that he would eliminate any mistakes that he’s made, and whatever mistake he makes in this game would be a new one,” offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said Thursday. “He’s been pretty good at that, minus a handful of balls that just could have been in other places (or when he) could have been more protective with the football. As far as game management and some of the things he’s done with protection and learning the system, he’s done really well.”
There’s not much to say. It’s now or never for the Steelers, and even then, it may not be enough to get into the playoffs.
They could’ve easily tossed in the white towel and played for a top draft pick, but the team traded for Minkah Fitzpatrick, turning a good defense into a great one, and giving the team a fighting chance every week.
It was incredible to see them at 8-5, getting a shot at the #5 seed, but turnovers and lack of an offense finally caught up to this team the last two weeks. Now it is what it is, and no matter what happens this Sunday, the players, coaches, and fans can hold their heads high and be proud of a team that stared adversity in the face and fought to the bitter end. They never once quit or complained about the situation they were placed in.
If they’re going down, they’re going down fighting.
Steelers 20 Ravens 13
Pittsburgh’s Keys to Success
Play to win, not to lose
It’s do or die. Time to leave it all out on the field. If Duck Hodges starts tossing INT’s, then Paxton Lynch should get a look. Run Benny Snell and utilize Jaylen Samuels to his full potential.
It’s been Duck’s biggest problem the past two games. He has to be smart with his throws. He displayed some of the talent we all saw when he was forced back into action when Mason Rudolph was injured.
Receivers need a big game
Duck, or Lynch, will need to be confident, and that means their receivers making plays and securing the ball. Time for James Washington, Diontae Johnson, and Juju Smith-Schuster to give it their all.
Bring the heat to RGIII
Griffin has barely played, so facing a Steelers defense when they are playing like they can will likely force a few turnovers that could change the fortunes of this game and aid the offense for a few short drives.
Contain the running game of Gus Edwards and Justice Hill
Bottle up the Ravens run game and force RGIII to beat you through the air. Minkah Fitzpatrick should be salivating.
- Venue: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD.
- Field: Bermuda Grass
- Game-time: Sunday, December 29th, at 4:25 pm ET
- TV: CBS (Local on KDKA-TV)
- Announcers: Ian Eagle (play-by-play) Dan Fouts (analyst) Evan Washburn (reporter)
- Local radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE & WBGG 970 AM
- Announcers: Rob King (play-by-play) Tunch Ilkin (analyst) Craig Wolfley (sideline) Missi Matthews (sideline)
- Internet broadcast: Steelers Nation Radio (SNR) on Steelers.com
- Weather at kickoff: Sunny and 43. Winds WSW 5-10 MPH.
- Vegas line: Pittsburgh -2.5
- NFL Standings / NFL Scoreboard
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens History
- Series history: Began in 1996
- Steelers are 28-23 overall vs Ravens
- At home: 17-11
- On the road: 11-12
- Postseason: 3-1
- Streak: Ravens won the last game.
- Last regular-season meeting: Ravens Win, 26-23 (OT) (Oct. 6, 2018)
- Last postseason meeting: Ravens Win, 30-17 (Jan. 3, 2015 AFC Wild Card Game
- Overall record: 8-7
- Head coach: Mike Tomlin (13th Season with Steelers)
- Overall regular-season record: 133-73-1 (.647)
- Playoff record: 8-7 (Qualified for playoffs 8 times)
- 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers Team Roster
- Steelers Team Statistics
- Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 Schedule
- Last game: Jets 16 Steelers 10
- Points per game: 18.6
- Total yards per game: 298.3
- Passing yards per game: 207.9
- Rushing yards per game: 90.4
Steelers Defense (Base 3-4)
- Points allowed:18.3
- Total yards per game allowed: 304.1
- Passing yards per game allowed:202.1
- Rushing yards per game allowed:102
- Interceptions: 19
- Forced fumbles: 18
- Overall record: 13-2
- Head coach: John Harbaugh (12th season with Ravens)
- Overall regular-season record: 117-74 (.437) / 117-74 (.357) with Ravens
- Playoff record: 0-0 (Qualified for playoffs 0 times)
- 2019 Baltimore Ravens roster
- Baltimore Team Statistics Defensive Stats
- Last game: Ravens 31 Browns 15
- Points per game: 33.5
- Total yards per game: 421.8
- Passing yards per game: 216.9
- Rushing yards per game: 204.9
Ravens Defense (Base 4-3)
- Points allowed: 18.1
- Total yards per game allowed: 309.4
- Passing yards per game allowed: 215.9
- Rushing yards per game allowed: 93.5
- Sacks: 35
- Interceptions: 13
- Forced fumbles: 13
Injury Report (12/27/19)
- Out: RB James Conner (Quad), C Maurkice Pouncey (Knee)
- Doubtful: None
- Questionable: None
- Out: RB Mark Ingram (Ankle)
- Doubtful: None
- Questionable: WR Marquise Brown (Illness), TE Mark Andrews (Ankle), CB Jimmy Smith (NIR), CB Marcus Peters (Chest), S Earl Thomas (NIR)