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Crab Bag Looking for fourth straight over Pittsburgh

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TAKING OVER THE RIVALRY

A win Sunday would give the Ravens their fourth consecutive victory over their hated division rival Steelers. Since entering the league in 1996, the Ravens have played the Steelers twice every regular season. The longest winning streak for either team was from 1997-99, when Pittsburgh won five in a row. The Steelers also won four in a row from 2001-03.

This would be the Ravens’ longest winning streak of the rivalry.

For John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco, a win Sunday would push their record against Pittsburgh to 6-6 overall (6-4 regular season, 0-2 playoffs).

2008: 0-2 regular season, 0-1 playoffs

2009: 1-1

2010: 1-1, 0-1

2011: 2-0

2012: 1-0

IF YOU WANNA CROWN ‘EM, CROWN EM!

Baltimore, winners of four in a row, has a three-game lead over both the Steelers and the Bengals. Cincinnati has won three in a row and owns a 6-5 record in the AFC North. A win Sunday, coupled with a Cincinnati loss in San Diego, would give the Ravens their second consecutive AFC North title for the first time in team history.

If the Ravens win and the Bengals win, the Steelers would be eliminated from AFC North title contention, but the Bengals would trail the Ravens by three games with three to play and would still be mathematically alive.

Regardless of what happens in San Diego, the Ravens can secure their fifth consecutive playoff appearance with a win – the longest current streak in the NFL.

RAVENS-STEELERS FAST FACTS

  • Six of the last seven regular season games have been decided by three points, including Week 11’s 13-10 win by the Ravens.
  • In each of the last two full seasons (2010 & 2011), the Ravens and Steelers have produced 12-4 records; Ravens won the AFC North in 2011 and Steelers did in 2010. In 2009, the Bengals won the division with a 10-6 mark when the Ravens and Steelers each went 9-7, with Baltimore earning the Wild Card playoff spot.
  • Since 2009, the Ravens have won five of seven games vs. the Steelers, including four of the last five and three in a row.
  • The Ravens have won the last three regular season games at Heinz Field and two of the last three at M&T Bank Stadium.

THE RUMORS OF OUR DEMISE HAVE BEEN GREATLY EXAGGERATED

The talking heads with go on and on about how the Ravens defense has fallen off, as they are ranked just 24th in the league in total yards allowed.

However, a closer look reveals that they are getting the job done where it matters most – allowing points. Especially considering that they are without their leader Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb, who was one of the top two or three CBs in the NFL last year, what Dean Pees’ group has managed to do is quite impressive.

Since Nov. 4 (after returning from their bye week), the Ravens have allowed an NFL-low 14.5 points per game, producing a 4-0 mark in those contests. Baltimore has permitted just 4 TDs during this span, also having not allowed a red zone TD, keeping opponents out of the end zone on 10-consecutive red zone trips.

POINTS ALLOWED PER GAME
(Since Nov. 4 / Last Four Games)

Rank Team Games Points Points/Game
1 Baltimore Ravens 4 58 14.5
2 Cincinnati Bengals 4 60 15.0
3 Pittsburgh Steelers 4 66 16.5
4 Seattle Seahawks 3 51 17.0
5 Denver Broncos 4 69 17.3

GETTING TO KNOW YOU ~ Q&A with Haloti Ngata

What does being ranked as the ninth-best player by your peers in the NFL Network’s Top 100 mean?

“To think that other guys around the league see me play and think highly of me is an honor. As good as that is, I want a Super Bowl ring. I’d rather have that.”

How do you stay so calm and collected leading up to a big game?

“It’s just my lifestyle. I don’t really like a lot of attention or live the fast life. I just like to chill and hang out with family, listen to Reggae music. I think it’s the way I’ve been raised and have grown up. I’ve always been laid back. Football has always been a sport where I can release my tension. Now, I can just turn it on whenever and start playing. I love this game so much.”

How would you describe your close bond with OLB Terrell Suggs?

“I think it’s the reason him and I can play so well together. We don’t need to talk – we just play off of each other. I think it started by playing with each other, but then it grew to hanging out off the field and in the locker room. Our lockers are right next to each other. We’ve always been able to talk to each other if we have problems. Our relationship is weird, because he is so loud and obnoxious. We’re really different guys, but it works. Whenever we need somebody to talk to stuff about, we always have each other’s back. It’s a pretty weird relationship, but I don’t think I can play as well without him.”

What defensive lineman did you look to when you were learning the game of football?

“Reggie White. That’s a guy I always looked to, watching him play and the type of guy he was off the field. He was a church-goer with strong beliefs in God. He was great in the community and always looked like he stayed composed on and off the field. He’s a player and person I’ve always tried to emulate.”

If you could do anything besides be a pro athlete, what would you do?

“I would like to be one of those TV food travelers who goes around the world and just eats.”

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“This was one of those types of games, like the one we won in Pittsburgh last year. It’s not a division game, but it’s important for us to be 9-2. It’s in the moment. I don’t think if we had lost the game it would have been the biggest deal in the world, but this was a huge opportunity for us to keep that spread and really take a leap forward in the division and conference. In fact, if we take care of our business the rest of the way, this will be a defining moment. – Joe Flacco on the win in San Diego

“I’ve been around a lot of teams. This team has the will to win. We always believe.” – Ray Rice on the win in San Diego

“When I’ve been around the Ravens in the last couple of years, I’ve always gotten the impression that Ray Lewis was preparing to pass the mantel of team leadership to Rice. Lewis loves Rice, and this play shows why he does. A play that had no business getting made got made by Rice, and it could be the play that makes the difference between a first-round bye and a veteran team having to play a Wild Card game.” – SportsIllustrated.com’s Peter King on Ray Rice’s leadership and will converting the fourth-and-29 play at San Diego.

“One of the things that you’ve seen with [Harbaugh] is the consistency every year, not the ups and downs. He’s a guy that puts the team first, puts his ego aside, and he’s a smart guy. His personality is such where he’s not going to get the publicity that some other coaches get, but the success that he’s had is outstanding.” – Charley Casserly, longtime NFL GM and NFL Network analyst, on head coach John Harbaugh.

LAUGH OF THE WEEK AT EXPENSE OF THE RAVENS’ OPPONENT

There are obviously no shortage of funny pictures of goofy Steelers fans floating around the internet. Instead of going that route, let’s take a look at what happened last time Pittsburgh came to M&T Bank Stadium – this is sure to put a smile on the face of every Ravens fan…

Click here to view the embedded video.

Let’s hope for more of the same today!

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Derek Arnold

About Derek Arnold

RSR/ESR Senior Editor. Derek is originally from and a current resident of Pasadena, MD. He’s a graduate of UMBC and has been a lifelong Baltimore sports fan. In 2007 he founded B’More Birds’ Nest, where he wrote about the Ravens and Orioles before joining RSR in 2012. Derek’s work has been featured on Charm City Current, Bleacher Report, and other online sports sites. Follow Derek on Twitter: @BMoreBirdsNest  More from Derek Arnold
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