CRAB BAG: Ravens seek third straight regular season win in Pittsburgh

LET’S GO STREAKING!

The Ravens are currently riding a very impressive streak. They have won 11-consecutive AFC North games. The streak is the longest of its sort in the NFL. The last time the Ravens lost a division game? December 5, 2010, when Pittsburgh won at M&T Bank Stadium by a score of 13-10. That was also the last time the Ravens lost a home game.

They’ll put their division winning streak on the line Sunday night in Pittsburgh.

PLAYING IN THE SPOTLIGHT

When the Ravens and Steelers meet, chances are you have to wait around for the majority of that week’s NFL slate to be played before watching them kick off. This week marks the seventh time in the last eight seasons that a Ravens/Steelers matchup will be featured on primetime TV. Five of those have been played in Pittsburgh.

Al Michaels and Cris Colinworth are on the call for NBC Sunday night.

MIRROR IMAGES

One of the biggest reasons that this has developed into one of the top rivalry games in sports is because these two teams are so evenly matched. The evidence:

  • Five of the last six games between these two have been decided by three points.
  • In each of the last two seasons, 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.
Recently though, the Ravens have come out on top, winning four of the last six games, including three of the last four and two in a row.

Also, after losing his first three starts there, Joe Flacco has won the last two regular season games at Heinz Field in dramatic fashion, throwing game-winning TDs in the final minute of play: 26 yards to WR Torrey Smith on 11/6/11 with 18 seconds left (23-20) and 18 yards to WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh on 10/3/10 with 32 seconds remaining (17-14).

GETTING TO KNOW YOU ~ Q&A WITH TERRELL SUGGS

What drove you to get back when you were hurt?

“Seeing my team go to battle without me. I am a football player; that’s what I’ve been since I was eight years old. This offseason was the one time I was told I couldn’t play the game I love. When you’re playing the game every year since you were eight, and you’re finally told you can’t play, it’s heartbreaking.”

What did your injury teach you?

“In some ways, the injury was a gift from God. It opened my eyes to a lot of things I didn’t appreciate – one was myself. Sometimes you don’t realize what you mean to a team, to teammates, even to fans. Before, I took things for granted – like going
to work, practice, playing with my kids. I appreciate more now.”

Why do you like playing at Heinz Field so much?

“Because I’m the bad guy. I like being the bad guy. I like playing against a good team at a very highly-driven stadium. Their following is ridiculous. There are Steelers fans that have never lived or been to a Steelers’ game. To be a part of that atmosphere, that’s what professional football is about.”

You seem to like playing the villain. Who is your favorite villain?

“Heath Ledger as the Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’ was off the chain. I like him. Also, Keyser Soze from ‘The Usual Suspects.’”

What movie does the Ravens/Steelers rivalry remind you of?

“It has to be something war-like, because it is always a battle and one where both sides fare equally. I’d say it’s like Achilles and Prince Hector in ‘Troy.’ Both teams never give up and lay it all on the line on the field.”

What is the most underrated movie?

“I was going to say ‘Juno,’ but it got an Academy Award. Even though ‘The Black Swan’ got an Academy Award, it’s highly underrated. ‘Inception’ is highly underrated as well; that blew my mind. Others that come to my mind are ‘Antwone Fisher’ and ‘Finding Forrester.’”

Which of your teammates would make the best actor?

“Haloti Ngata is a pretty good actor. He has a very joking personality. He is fun to be around. He would play a big brother comedic role. He’d be like the modern day Chet from ‘Weird Science.’ I know Haloti could do that.”

If you could play one character in movie history, who would it be?

“I would be Frank Lucas, who was played by Denzel Washington in ‘American Gangster.’ Either that or Bane in ‘The Dark Knight Rises.’ Once again, the villain; I can’t seem to get away from it.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK: RIVALRY EDITION

“You know, it’s a real, honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned, bare-knuckle, back-alley brawl of a rivalry that’s the best in the NFL, if not all sports. … Steelers-Ravens is all about will. It’s about attrition, violence and sheer force. You’ll flip the channel during Pats-Jets because you’re bored watching a team that can’t pass the ball (NY) go up against a team that can’t defend the pass (NE). You’ll change channels during Steelers-Ravens just to catch a break from the carnage.” ESPN.com’s Dave Fleming

“When you talk about a rivalry, you talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. The one thing you talk about is trash-talking, smash-mouth, hard-hitting football games. These guys are going out there, and they genuinely do not like each other. So, you know that these games are going to be action-packed from the start to the end.” NFL Network’s Willie McGinest

“It’s old-fashioned, old-school, hard-hitting and physical. We don’t like them, but at the same time, we’ve got a lot of respect for them. It’s always one of those things where each team knows just how much is on the line.” Ray Rice

KNOWING THE ENEMY

Overview: At 6-3, the Steelers are in second place in the AFC North after winning four straight. Last week, Pittsburgh squeaked by the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime, 16-13.

Offense: The Steelers’ 23.0 points per game rank 18th in the NFL. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was having a career year before being injured against Kansas City, completing 209 of 316 passes for 2,287 yards with 17 touchdowns and only four interceptions.

Defense: The Steelers’ defense is again ranked number one overall, including first in pass defense (171.1 ypg) and 6th vs. the run (94.6 ypg). However, they are just 19th in red zone defense, allowing touchdowns on 55.6 percent of opponent trips inside the 20-yard line.

HOT START

Baltimore is off to a 7-2 start for just the second time in team history (2006’s 13-3 campaign) and for the first time under head coach John Harbaugh. The team has started 6-3 four times: in the 2004, 2008, 2010, and 2011 seasons. Those teams finished with final records of 9-7, 11-5, 12-4, and 12-4, respectively. Every team except the 2004 squad made the postseason.

DID YOU KNOW

The Ravens have now played 68 consecutive games without having a losing record, the NFL’s longest such active streak. Baltimore has not been below .500 since starting 2-3 in 2008. Houston & San Francisco own the next best active streak at 25 games of being at .500 or above.

LAUGH OF THE WEEK AT THE EXPENSE OF RAVENS’ OPPONENT

Just….this.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Oh, Steelers fans. Never change.

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