It’s rivalry week! The Steelers are on a short week, having played Tampa Bay on Monday night. The Ravens are coming off a bounce-back win against Denver. It’s Ravens, it’s Steelers, it’s prime time.
Let’s explore how the Ravens can win on Sunday night.
— The Ravens allowed pressure and a sack on their first offensive series against the Broncos. It was sloppy. When you factor in the blocked punt and the quick Denver score, the game looked like it was going to get away from Baltimore quickly. But it didn’t.
— Joe Flacco orchestrated a touchdown drive and throughout the game exploited an injury-reduced Denver secondary. Moving forward, the Ravens need the offensive line to play angry, like they did last Sunday. Ronnie Stanley played angry. Watching him man handle Bradley Chubb (after the first series) and pick up blitzes was something to write home about. Inspiring, at least. According to PFF it was Stanley’s best performance this season. He needs to keep up that level of play.
— I’ve written a lot about the offensive line and how they need to play better. Against Denver, that unit showed up. They held Von Miller to zero (0) sacks. This was despite Miller often being lined up against the oft-maligned James Hurst. The Ravens played a good scheme against Miller and Chubb. After the first series, the offensive line rebounded by double-teaming, using tight ends and running backs to chip in on blocking the edges.
— In their three-sack game against Tampa Bay on Monday night, the Steelers combined edge pressures and middle blitzes to confuse the Bucs, including former Raven Ryan Jensen. The OL will need another combination of good individual performances, great communication, and solid scheming on Sunday night.
— Three quarters of shut down play after two early Denver scores? I’ll take that from this unit. They were aggressive with the blitz, angry at the point of attack and relatively penalty-free. Aside from the coverage on the 35-yard end around touchdown by Emmanuel Sanders, they played a great game.
— I want to see more from Brandon Williams this week. He continues to eat up blockers but not much else.
— It will be interesting (nauseating?) to see how the Ravens secondary fares without Jimmy Smith this week. They have been performing admirably thus far, and Marlon Humphrey has been showing his starting ability. Still, Ravens fans have nightmares thinking about this squad facing Antonio Brown without #22 lined up on defense. Hopefully they contain him better than they did A. J. Green.
— Who will Brandon Carr line up across from? The aging CB looked slow and had bad form at times against Denver. Despite allowing few yards and having tight coverage, a few cracks showed in the armor. Ben Roethlisberger will be able to exploit those cracks, should they show up again, better than Case Keenum did.