PITTSBURGH — Aiming for their third straight regular-season victory at Heinz Field, the Ravens take on the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 33nd time in the regular season in the history of the franchise.
Baltimore can create a stranglehold on the AFC North with a victory as it already owns a one-game advantage in the division with a second meeting still to come in two weeks in Baltimore. The Ravens are 6-10 all-time in Pittsburgh in the regular season as quarterback Joe Flacco has orchestrated game-winning drives in the closing seconds in each of the last two regular-season meetings at Heinz Field.
In addition to starting cornerback Jimmy Smith (sports hernia surgery), the Ravens will be without nose tackle Terrence Cody and defensive end Pernell McPhee, who suffered a setback during practice this week after declaring himself 100 percent recovered from knee and thigh injuries on Thursday.
The injuries on the defensive line coupled with Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata still being less than 100 percent could spell trouble for the Ravens against a Pittsburgh offense that figures to focus on its running attack against the 26th-ranked rush defense in the NFL. Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall returns from an Achilles tendon injury to form a three-headed monster with Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer.
Perhaps the biggest surprise among the Ravens’ inactives is veteran guard Bobbie Williams, meaning second-year lineman Jah Reid will start at left guard against the Steelers. Backup lineman Ramon Harewood is also inactive, which leaves rookie Gino Gradkowski as the only reserve interior lineman available in case of an injury. Of course, veteran tackle Bryant McKinnie will serve as an additional reserve along the offensive line.
Newly-signed veteran cornerback Chris Johnson and just-promoted safety Anthony Levine are both active. Rookie safety Christian Thompson was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury on Saturday, making room for the Ravens to promote Levine from the practice squad.
Of course, the Steelers are hurting just as badly as the Ravens as starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is out and will be replaced by veteran Byron Leftwich. Pittsburgh is also without safety Troy Polamalu and starting wide receiver Antonio Brown for Sunday night’s game.
Injured inside linebacker Ray Lewis is in Pittsburgh and will be on the sideline for Sunday night’s game.
The Ravens will wear white jerseys with black pants while Pittsburgh will wear their throwback jerseys that, well, you just have to see to believe.
Here are the inactives for Sunday night …
CB Jimmy Smith
CB Asa Jackson
DT Terrence Cody
G Bobbie Williams
G Ramon Harewood
WR Deonte Thompson
DE Pernell McPhee
QB Ben Roethlisberger
CB DeMarcus Van Dyke
S Troy Polamalu
LB Stevenson Sylvester
LB Adrian Robinson
OT Marcus Gilbert
WR Antonio Brown
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