Here is my six pack for tonight’s Ravens – Steelers game:
- Big night for secondary:The Ravens secondary will have a tall task in front of them tonight. With no Dawan Landry and Samari Rolle, Jim Leonhard, Corey Ivy, and Frank Walker will have to be in sync with Chris McAlister and Ed Reed. The secondary have to make sure they are all on the same page and that their might be zero room for freelancing tonight. In the past it has not been so much Hines Ward that has hurt the Ravens, but the second and third receivers on the team. Another big key for the secondary tonight will be to cover their man the entire play. Ben Roethlisberger is known for scrambling out of the pocket to make almost playground type plays with his receivers. The secondary can not afford to get drawn in to Ben scrambling and let their guy run wide open. Heath Miller is also a guy to keep an eye on tonight.
- Be aggressive: With a rookie running back and a hurt quarterback, the Ravens defense has to send a message and set a tone early on. I am not saying do anything outside of the rule book, but take your shots when you can.
- Contain Ben: I mentioned it earlier, but it is huge to keep Roethlisberger from scrambling out of the pocket and making throws down the field. Ben is not getting out of the pocket most of the time looking to tuck the ball and run, he is looking to make a pass. The Steelers have made big plays when Ben rolls out and his receivers improvise their routes to convert on big plays. The Ravens have to put pressure on him and when he does roll out of the pocket, stay with him and not give him much time to improvise.
- Attack the middle: With Casey Hampton out, the Ravens should continue what they have done so far this season and run the ball up the middle. Cam Cameron has said before that this is not an east and west offense, it is a north and south offense. The Ravens offense should try to do to the Steelers what the Steelers have done to teams for years, just pound the ball down your throat with a running game. This sets a tempo and frustrates a defense quick.
- Stay Joe Cool: All of the talk has been about Joe Flacco starting his first road game and it being on Monday Night Football. I do not think Flacco will get caught up in that at all. Flacco has not been rattled, bothered, or over whelmed by anything since he was drafted by the Ravens, granted this is one of the first big challenges of his NFL career, but he and the Ravens have done everything that they can to prepare him for this.
- Win the early rounds: A couple of Ravens players said playing the Steelers is like being in a heavyweight boxing match. There is to going to be a lot of flashy punches, or dancing around the ring, it is going to be a straight forward brawl. Both of these teams know what they are about and what the other one brings to the table. One of the keys tonight for the Ravens is to go out and win the early rounds, maintaining nice drives, setting a tempo on offense, and not being overwhelmed, sort of like throwing some jabs and body shots early on. If the Ravens are able to do that, then the Steelers defense will start to get tired, and that is when in the fourth quarter you can go for the knock out punch. Whether that be a touchdown to go ahead, put the game a way, or taking time off of the clock.
Ravens 20 –Steelers 17