NICKEL PACKAGE: Keys to Beating the Pittsburgh Steelers

antbrown

It’s Steelers week.

If you’ve been around Baltimore for any amount of time, you know what this game means. It’s a physical, nasty, tense, closely-contested game. There is no bigger opponent. There is no more important game, at least to Ravens fans.

For Baltimore to win this game means they go to 4-3 (2-0) heading into their bye week with two more divisional games immediately following. There’s very little margin for error.

Speaking of margins, you’d probably guess that this has been a close series, and you’d be right.

Since the Harbaugh era began in 2008, the Ravens’ record in Pittsburgh is 3-4. Every game has been decided by nine points or less. The total combined score: Pittsburgh 144, Baltimore 131.

So going by the average score, Pittsburgh should win, 21-19.

The current spread in Vegas favors Pittsburgh by 1 ½ points. Go figure.

Although this is one of those games where film study might be less important than it is against other teams (due to familiarity), it still helps to identify goals that will help you win.

Here are five goals the Ravens should have on Sunday.

 

1)     Start fast

It’s no mystery that the Ravens have been getting off to horrible starts recently. In the first quarter of their last five games, they’ve scored only three points – total.

That obviously won’t cut it, especially in Pittsburgh when having to deal with such a raucous crowd.

Something that will help Baltimore start fast is to focus on early downs, so as to not get behind in the down and distance, like they did so often last week.

The Steelers defense isn’t as good as it has been, but those men can still make life miserable for opposing offenses. The Ravens can’t afford to start slowly and let the Steelers gain momentum.

 

2)     Fire off the ball

This game is about who wants it more. Whose will is greater?

Especially on the offensive line, the Ravens need to “fire off” and jolt the Steelers. This is less about X’s and O’s and more about desire.

The Ravens have it in them. We saw it last year with basically the same offensive linemen (except for Matt Birk, who retired in the offseason, and Eugene Monroe, who is an upgrade over Bryant McKinnie).

The Ravens are ranked 27th in rushing, gaining an average of 72.7 yards per game. The Steelers’ rush defense is barely better (22nd), giving up an average of 114.8 yards per game.

As hard as it’s been to establish the run lately, there’s an opportunity for the Ravens to turn things around on Sunday.

 

3)     Bracket Brown on third down

Antonio Brown is a small player with big-time ability.

He’s currently second in the league in receptions (41), sixth in receiving yards (498) and fourth in receiving yards per game (99.6).

I can’t tell you how many times the Ravens have had Ben Roethlisberger in their collective grasp, only to see him escape and find Antonio Brown for a first down. If the Ravens don’t pay Brown proper respect, he will shred their pass defense.

Whether it’s bracket coverage or not, Baltimore needs to enforce the middle of the field, where Brown likes to “sit down in the zone.” If it were me, I’d bracket Brown with cornerback Corey Graham and linebacker Arthur Brown.

Besides, Brown is Pittsburgh’s biggest offensive threat, so it would seem to be worth devoting an extra defender to cover him.

 

4)     Sack Roethlisberger

One thing the Ravens have been doing extremely well this year is sacking the quarterback. Their 22 sacks rank second among all teams. On the flip side, the Steelers are struggling to protect the passer, as they’ve given up 19 sacks through five games (ranking 26th).

We know Ben Roethlisberger’s trademark is escaping sacks. At 6’5”, 241 pounds, he’d be hard to sack even if he wasn’t running around.

Enter Terrell Suggs.

There’s something about playing the Steelers that brings out the best in Suggs. In 18 career games against the Steelers, he’s recorded 18.5 sacks.

There are players who say they don’t get into rivalries, and then there’s Suggs, who embraces rivalries—particularly this one.

Fortunately for Baltimore, they also have stars like Elvis Dumervil (5.0 sacks) and Arthur Jones (3.0 sacks) who can rush the passer from different positions.

 

5)     No emotional penalties

As badly as the Ravens want to win this game, getting caught up in the emotion of it will not help them do so. Sure that’s easier said than done, but by mentally preparing for adversity and taunting by the opposition, they’ll know how to act when that moment comes.

Obviously no team wants to commit a penalty, but emotional penalties almost always come with a price tag of 15 yards.

In a game so tightly contested as this one, field position is crucial.

So is poise.

 

Prediction: Ravens 16, Steelers 15

This entry was posted in Blog View, Featured by Mike Fast. Bookmark the permalink.

About Mike Fast

Mike Fast
I was born and raised in Baltimore. But after a year at York College of Pennsylvania, I transferred to Towson University. At York and Towson, I hosted various radio shows, wrote for the school paper, spoke on a panel RE: college game day presentation at IBS conference in Manhattan and...more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

 
evden eve nakliyat şirketleri ofis taşımacılığı evden eve nakliye istanbul evden eve nakliyat Şehirlerarası Evden Eve Nakliyat İstanbul Nakliyat Firmaları

Hot off the street

Addition of S Will Hill a Shrewd Move

Entering training camp, the Baltimore Ravens had a pretty steady and favorable roster, save one aspect. The secondary as a whole was never a bright spot entering the 2014 season, with lack of depth...read more

CAMP RECAP: Brooks Not Yet Ready For Prime Time

Camp Week 1: What We Know and Don’t Know So Far With nearly a week of training camp practices in the books (capped off by last night’s performance at M&T Bank stadium), some of the pieces are...read more

Highlights & Disappointments from Week 1 of Camp

Training camp is a little under a week old and the Baltimore Ravens are progressing as expected. There have been highs and lows as there are each and every year, but for all the offseason issues fa...read more

BEHIND ENEMY LINES: Burning Bridges in Pittsburgh

As we enter the heart of the training camp season, let’s dive into what’s going on around the AFC North in another edition of Behind Enemy Lines.   CLEVELAND BROWNS Austin due for a big ...read more

CAMP NOTES: Smith & Smith Cross Examine Defense

The offense took the field intent on sharpening their skills in offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's new system. It is easy to see that the Kubiak offense certainly is tight end friendly. Dennis Pit...read more

View More