During the 2009 seasons the Ravens were one of the league’s most penalized teams but an emphasis to correct that glaring problem has paid dividends. John Harbaugh’s troops now have the 8th fewest number of penalty yards (487) while this week’s opponent the Pittsburgh Steelers are ranked 24th (653). The difference between the clubs when measured over the course of 11 games played equates to 15 yards per contest – the equivalent of one James Harrison helmet-to-helmet infraction.
Speaking of Harrison, he’s probably made his way towards the top of the NFL Retired Players Association. The NFLRPA is the beneficiary of fines levied on players and this season Harrison’s total now sits at $125,000. Last week against Buffalo Harrison was at it again after leading with his helmet while decking Bills’ QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. The former DPOY recently lost his appeal of fines resulting from hits on Mohamed Massaquoi ($75,000) and Drew Brees ($20,000).
How soon before you threaten to retire again James?
And while we’re on the topic of threats, here’s a thinly veiled one from the player Ravens fans love to hate, Hines Ward: "There is nothing like beating Baltimore in their house!"
NOTABLES & QUOTABLES
* During the past two weeks the Steelers have been penalized 24 times for 270 yards.
* The Steelers have won five of the last eight games against the Ravens. All three of the Ravens’ wins were games during which Ben Roethlisberger was a sideline observer due to injury or suspension.
* Shaun Suisham is the new Steelers kicker and he managed to do something that no Pittsburgh player has done since at least the 1970 NFL merger – go 4 for 4 on field-goal tries from 40 yards or more.
* Dating back to the 2000 campaign, the Ravens are 63-22 at M&T Bank Stadium (.741), compiling the NFL’s third-best home record during that span (NE is first at 66-19 and Indy second at 64-21).
* The Ravens have won eight straight games and 12 of their last 14 at M&T Bank Stadium. With a victory this Sunday, they will set a record for the best home winning streak in team history.
* Baltimore is off to its best start ever under John Harbaugh and hopes to open the season at 9-3 for the second time in team history (2006).
* With a win on Sunday the Ravens can sweep the Steelers for the second time since the 2006 season and the home cooking might help get them there. The Ravens have won six of the last seven games played here in the Land of Pleasant Living.
* Baby It’s Cold Outside! The temperature at kickoff (8:20 p.m.) this Sunday will most likely be chilly and that may bode well for the Ravens. Dating back to 2000, the purple and black have won nine consecutive games at home when it’s 40 degrees or below at kickoff.
* The Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer on the Ravens-Steelers Rivalry: “John Madden didn’t leave us enough onomatopoeia to describe all the hard-hitting, head-snapping, clock-cleaning and slobberknocking that happens when Baltimore and Pittsburgh trade blows. The NFL’s most visceral rivalry isn’t for the faint of heart, stomach, mind or body. This is physical football at its best. Defenses fly around smacking everything. … Offenses have enough tough personalities to stand up for every extra yard.” In case you are wondering a onomatopoeia is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes.
Coming up short in short yardage…The Ravens have struggled to convert on third and fourth and short this season and they’ve looked out of synch and confused when trying. During the 2010 campaign the Ravens have attempted to convert on third and fourth down with 2 or less yards to go 30 times and they’ve been successful just 13 times (43%). They’ve lost yardage on such plays twice and produces no gain on ten tries. Their biggest gain was 23 yards (a connection between Joe Flacco and TJ Houshmandzadeh) and their worst effort, a 14 yard loss at home against the Broncos on fourth and goal. Overall they’ve averaged 1.83 yards on these 30 attempts.