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Ravens – Browns notes and my six pack for the game

Posted on 21 September 2008 by caseywillett

Here are some notes from the history between the two teams:
The Ravens look to snap a 2-game losing streak to the Browns. Last season, Cleveland swept Baltimore for the first time since 2001.
The Ravens are 11-7 all time vs Cleveland, including 6-3 at home. Baltimore has won 4 of the last 5 games played against the Browns at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens are 19-6 in their last 25 home games. Dating back to 2000, Baltimore is 47-18 at M&T Bank Stadium, tied(Ind. And Den.) for the 2nd-best home record in the NFL.
The Ravens look to start 2-0 for just the 3rd time in franchise history (2000 and 2006).
The Ravens have won 5 of their last 6 coming off the bye. Baltimore snapped a 5-game bye winning streak in 2007 when it dropped a 38-7 game at Pittsburgh (11/5) after the bye.
Ed Reed has 263 INT return yards and 2 INT-TDs are also his most against any NFL team.
The Ravens have recorded at least 1 INT in 7 consecutive games against the Browns. Baltimore has posted 11 picks in those contests, producing 256 return yards and 2 TDs. Here are the individual game-by-thefts for Baltimore over that time
Here is my six pack for the Ravens – Browns game:
  1. Contain Braylon Edwards: So far this year Edwards has had a disappointing season. The Ravens can not afford to let him get going against them today. Cover Edwards from the time he gets off the team bus till the time he gets back on it. I would not be surprised to see a Terrell Suggs or Bart Scott go out on Edwards just to give him a nice solid hit and try and rattle him early. Edwards maybe a game time decision as to whether he will play or not due to a shoulder injury he suffered last week against Pittsburgh. If he does try and play with a hurt shoulder, the Ravens will be very physical with him.
  1. Make Derek Anderson uncomfortable: Anderson has proven that maybe he is not this legendary quarterback that everyone thought he was last year. Last year all of his offense was healthy. This year he is missing two of his receivers, Braylon Edwards is a little banged up, and Jamal Lewis has struggled. The offensive line for the Browns will be with out Eric Steinbach today who has been a huge help to the development of Joe Thomas. Maybe the Ravens defense can throw some exotic blitzes at Thomas and try to confuse him.
  1. Limit Josh Cribbs: Cribbs has become one of the most dangerous return guys in the NFL. The Ravens will have to have a plan today to limit his chances for big returns. Cribbs can help a struggling offense out a lot by giving them a short field to work on. One big advantage that the Ravens might have is that Jerry Rosburg the Ravens special teams coach was the special teams coach for the Browns the first couple of years Cribbs was in the league.
  1. Attack with offense: The Browns defense comes into the game missing a couple of big pieces. With DE Robaire Smith now out with a season ending achillies injury, and the secondary missing Sean Jones, what was already a suspect defense has some big holes in it. The Ravens offense has to be physical and attacking much like they were against the Bengals. The big matchup to watch and the key to the Ravens running attack having success is Jason Brown versus Shaun Rogers. If the interior offensive line can contain Rogers that could really open up some big running lanes for the running backs.
  1. Find Heap: After most fans were ready to run Heap out of town after his week one performance, I look for him to have a big game this week. Heap will want to go have a solid performance to make up for last week, but also he creates match up problems for the Browns defender trying to stay with him. There is really no one on that defense who can stay with Heap, and they may have to send extra guys to put pressure on Flacco which could open up the field for Heap.
  1. Let Joe go: Look for Cam Cameron to open up the playbook a little bit in the passing game for Flacco this week. This will be a key to keeping the Browns honest in respecting the passing game. Now, I do not think that you will see Flacco throwing the ball 20 times down the field for long gains, but I think he will take some deep shots to test this suspect secondary. Ideally the Ravens do not want Flacco to throw the ball 20-30 times, because that might be an indication that the running attack is not working. Flacco will probably end up with the same type of stats as in week 1, but with more throws down the field.
My prediction : Ravens 23 – Browns 13

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UPDATED: Kelly Gregg injury news plus Ravens Notes

Posted on 19 September 2008 by caseywillett

3:00
Here is the Ravens game status report for Friday:
OUT
Kelly Gregg (knee)
Troy Smith (illness)
DOUBTFUL
Fabian Washington (neck)
QUESTIONABLE
Nick Greisen
PROBABLE
Brendon Ayanbadejo
Yamon Figurs
Corey Ivy
Derrick Martin
Todd Heap
Marshal Yanda
Demetrius Williams

1:45

According to Coach Harbaugh, Kelly Gregg will be out for the next couple of weeks and then will become a week-to-week injury issue. Gregg has a hole in the cartilage that rubs bone to bone in his knee and because of that, it is causing a sensitive spot on his bone. Gregg feels it when he unloads on a block. Coach Harbaugh said that it is sort of like a scap on the bone and it tears the scab off. The Ravens  have to ice him and there is nothing they can do but let him heal. It will take him about two weeks and then they’ll reevaluate it after that.
Gregg missed a huge amount of training camp and all of the preseason and regular season so far with knee issues. The Ravens are fortunate to have a guy like Justin Bannan to fill in for Gregg while he tries to recover from this injury.

You can check out Ed Hochuli’s official website at www.nfl85.com to see his answers for last weekend’s gaffe with the Chargers. Hochuli, as you might know, is calling the Ravens-Browns game on Sunday.

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Thursday Ravens Notes

Posted on 18 September 2008 by caseywillett

4:33
Here is the Ravens injury report for Thursday:
OUT:
Troy Smith
Did Not Participate:
Brendon Ayanbadejo (leg)
Kelly Gregg (knee)
Corey Ivy (ankle)
Limited Participation:
Yamon Figurs (hamstring)
Nick Greisen (thigh)
Derrick Martin (shoulder)
Fabian Washington (neck)
Full Participation:
Todd Heap (wrist)
Marshal Yanda (knee)
Demetrius Williams (hamstring)

Here are some notes from the media session with Special Teams Coach Jerry Rosburg, Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan, and Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron:

The Ravens special teams unit will have their hands full with Josh Cribbs as he is one of the most dangerous return guys in the NFL. Interestingly enough, Coach Jerry Rosburg was the person who turned Cribbs into a return guy. Cribbs was a quarterback out of Kent State when he was signed as a free agent by the Browns in ’05.
The Ravens offensive line will have their hands full with big defensive tackle Shaun Rogers. He is a guy that demands a double team from the offensive line and will be a big challenge for Jason Brown.
Willis McGahee will see some playing this Sunday, but I do not look for him to start and to only play a limited amount of time on Sunday.
According to Rex Ryan, this will be the best defense that the Browns will have faced so far this year. So far they have faced the Cowboys who only allowed 10 points, and the Steelers who only allowed 6 points.
Rex Ryan pointed out that part of the struggles of the Browns so far has been that they are missing Joe Jurevicius and Donte Stallworth on offense, but are still a very dangerous team offensively.
Look for Justin Bannan to get another start on the defensive line as Kelly Gregg still appears to be unlikely to play on Sunday
Willie Anderson will fit into the mix at the tackle position this Sunday. Willie will now rotate with Adam Terry and Jared Gaither, and Terry could move over to left tackle at times during the game
Here are notes from the media portion of practice:
-Missing: Troy Smith, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Kelly Gregg, Corey Ivy
-Back at work: Yamon Figurs, Ed Reed, Demetrius Williams, Derrick Martin
-Lorenzo Neal was wearing #43 which is the number that belongs to Haruki Nakamura. Haruki was also wearing #43. Lorenzo is listed on the roster as still wearing #42.

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Ravens Q&A

Posted on 16 September 2008 by caseywillett

It’s time for another Tuesday edition of the Ravens Q&A blog.

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Ravens-Texans to Monday night; injury report

Posted on 11 September 2008 by caseywillett

Just after 6 pm, the NFL released this statement to the media: Due to the importance of allowing the Houston area to focus on its recovery from the expected arrival of Hurricane Ike on Friday, the Houston Texans’ home game Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens has been re-scheduled for Monday night at Reliant Stadium at 7:30 pm Houston time (8:30 pm ET).

The game originally was scheduled to be played on Sunday, September 14 at 3:15 pm Houston Time (4:15 pm ET). The Texans-Ravens Monday night game will be televised on local CBS stations in the primary and secondary markets of the Texans (Houston, Beaumont-Port Arthur, and Bryan, Texas) and the Ravens (Baltimore; Washington, DC; Salisbury, MD; and Harrisburg, PA).

**********
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the folks in Texas as this storm bears down on the coast over the next day. Here is how the day unfolded out at Owings Mills …

4:50 pm: The Ravens have informed us that they have been told that the NFL will have a statement around 6 pm as it relates to the status of Sunday’s scheduled Ravens-Texans game.

Here is a blog about the situation from NFL.com, with quotes from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

I just do not see this game being played on Sunday. There would be way too many issues with getting things cleaned up after the storm and being ready to go for the game. If things can get cleaned up, cleared and ready to go for a game on Monday night, I would guess the Ravens would get the front end of a Monday Night Football doubleheader with the Eagles at Cowboys taking the main stage that evening.

It also has not been ruled out that the game could be played on another day next week, but that is to short of a turnaround for both teams.

Hopefully we will have a final answer coming in the next 45 minutes.

4:41 pm: Make sure to check out the audio vault on the WNST website to listen to Ian Eagle’s take on the current status of the Ravens–Texans game. As of now, there is still no word from the Ravens. The team is still waiting to hear word from the NFL as to what will happen.

4:10 pm: There is no news yet as far as the game goes, but here is the Ravens’ injury report for Thursday:

Did Not Participate
Brendon Ayanbadejo (leg)
Yamon Figurs (hamstring)
Kelly Gregg (knee)
Troy Smith (illness)
Fabian Washington (neck)

Limited Participation
Jared Gaither (ankle)
Trevor Pryce (back)

Full Participation
Chris McAlister (knee)
Jason Brown (ankle)
Todd Heap (back)
Corey Ivy (ankle)
Le Ron McClain (ankle)
Willis McGahee (knee)
Ed Reed (neck)

2:40 pm: Although no new news on the Ravens–Texans game, the University of Texas postponed its game against Arkansas until Sept. 27. Here are some sports event changes that have been made due to Hurricane Ike and its impact.

Also, here is an update from the Houston Airport System as it relates to flights coming into Houston.

1:43 pm: Still nothing official from the Ravens, but here is something to thing about. The Ravens game could be moved to Atlanta. The Falcons are on the road at Tampa Bay late Sunday afternoon, and the baseball Braves are in New York to face the Mets.

12:24 pm: The latest here officially from the Ravens is that the club was notified that they will be told something this afternoon or tonight as it relates to the game in Houston. The Ravens have been told to be ready to plan accordingly.

The Ravens have not been told about the possibility of the game being moved to Baltimore. That seems to not be an opition as there was so much fall out over the move of the 2005 Saints-Giants game that Chris Pika blogged about due to Hurricane Katrina.

9:30 am: The Ravens are monitoring the path of Hurricane Ike this morning and may be making alternate plans for the game Sunday afternoon. The Houston Chronicle is reporting that the game could be moved to Monday night.

The University of Houston has had to move their game Saturday versus Air Force to Dallas (at SMU’s stadium). There are some reports that flights into Houston may be put on hold starting tonight or Friday. That could possibly cause the Ravens to have to leave sometime in the next 24 hours.

More as word comes out here at 1 Winning Drive.

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UPDATE: Injury report and Wednesday Ravens notes

Posted on 10 September 2008 by caseywillett

Here is the Ravens injury report for Wednesday:
Did Not Participate:
Brendon Ayanbadejo (leg)
Troy Smith (illness)
Fabian Washington (neck)
Limited Participation
Yamon Figurs (hamstring)
Kelly Gregg (knee)
Corey Ivy (ankle)
Ed Reed (neck)
Full Participation
Chris McAlister(knee)
Jason Brown (ankle)
Jared Gaither (ankle)
Todd Heap (back)
LeRon McClain (ankle)
Willis McGahee (knee)

The Ravens returned to practice today as they prepare for the Houston Texans. Here are some news and notes from today:

Good news from media portion of practice this afternoon. Kelly Gregg was back on the field and may possibly be ready to play on Sunday
Haloti Ngata was not at practice during the media session, and there has been no reason as to why he was not there. Again, he was not there during the media portion of practice, he could have very well come out for practice later.
Fabian Washington, Brendon Ayanbadejo, and Troy Smith, were all not at practice this afternoon as they nurse injuries.
Fabian sort of rules himself out on Sunday. He said he is still dealing with some neck issues.
Troy Smith was in the locker room for a brief moment this afternoon. He looks to be in a little better shape than last time we saw him, but Coach Harbaugh said they will know more about his status on Friday.
Look for it to be a possible rotation of Willie Anderson, Adam Terry, and Jared Gaither, at the tackle positions. Terry could possibly see some time at the left tackle position if Anderson comes in at right.
There has been no news as far as possibly having to make changes in the Ravens travel plans as it relates to Houston yet,” whatever those plans are, they’ll let us know when it’s time, and our job is to get ready for the Texans.”
Todd Heap said that his back injury that he suffered in the 4th quarter of the Bengals game is ok, and not something that is going to bother him. Heap said that he landed on the Bengals player’s foot, but will be ok for Sunday.
Texans coach Gary Kubiak had an interesting take on the Ravens offense:’ I think you’ve got to worry about stopping the offense. When you look at the Ravens last week, the bottom line is they were dominant on the line of scrimmage. I’m not sure I’m right, but I think the quarterback only threw the ball 17-18 times last week. If you’re in this league and the quarterback only has to throw the ball that many times, then that means your football team’s got total control of the game on the ground. I think our tremendous challenge is figuring out a way to stop their run. If they can hold the ball longer, just like Pittsburgh did-I think Ben threw it 16 times or 15 times, I’m not sure; it wasn’t many-you’re in trouble as a football team. We’ve got to stop their offense, and when you look at last week they’re very physical and do a great job in the running game.”
One of the things to watch for is that Mario Williams will jump from one end of the line to the other, to cause match up problems.

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A Different Perspective on Sunday’s Win

Posted on 10 September 2008 by marcbouchard

Now that we’ve all sobered up after the “surprising” win over the Bengals, let’s take a moment to put things into perspective. The Ravens offense definitely had a new look – the overall pace was much improved and it was great to see rookie quarterback Joe Flacco directing the no-huddle offense.

But at the end of the day, the results of those new offensive schemes were not much of a departure from the past. Consider…

  • The Ravens turned the ball over (a fumble by Todd Heap) on their second play from scrimmage, and punted on four of their first seven possessions.
  • They committed two false start penalties in the first half of the game.
  • They failed to score a touchdown in their only trip inside the “red zone,” settling for a Matt Stover field goal after a first down on the Bengals 10-yard-line.
  • They took possession of the ball with 2:37 left in the first half and only ran 54 seconds off the clock before Stover’s field goal. This allowed the Bengals to get the ball back with 1:43 left and get a field goal before halftime. I seem to remember the subject of clock management coming up around here a lot in the past.
  • On their first possession in the third quarter, the Ravens faced third-and-3 and fourth-and-3 on the Bengals 34-yard-line. Even though they were seemingly running at will, they attempted passes on both downs, turning the ball back over to the Bengals on downs.
  • In the fourth quarter, LeRon McLain rushed for a total of 20 yards on three consecutive plays, with all three runs going through the left side of the Ravens offensive line. On the next play, the Ravens tried a misdirection pitch-out to Ray Rice, who fumbled the ball and allowed Cincinnati to pull within one score of tying the game with 10 minutes left.
  • Though Flacco managed the game well, at the end of the day, he had just 129 yards passing and completed 51% of his passes. His average completion went for 8.6 yards. Is it me, or do those numbers look awfully familiar?
I’m not trying to be a killjoy. I was right there with everyone else chanting “Let’s-go, Flac-co” and will always remember his 50-yard scamper (I realize it’s only 38 yards officially) for his first NFL TD. I am also happy that Cam Cameron is here because the Ravens offense definitely needed an infusion of new concepts. Plus, I think John Harbaugh’s demeanor is the perfect contrast to that of his predecessor, and he has obviously refreshed an organizational atmosphere that had grown stale.
But I can’t help think that we were all a little blinded by a seven-point win over what could be one of the worst teams in the NFL this year. (And if they’re not one of the worst, they certainly played like it on Sunday.) Sure, there were subtle differences with some of the offensive formations – and seeing those gives us optimism for the future – but the results (with the exception of the nice clock-killing drive at the end of the game) were virtually the same. No yards after the catch; no touchdowns in the red zone; no deep completions (Flacco’s longest successful pass netted 15 yards); no blow-out win over a team that looked like they would rather be somewhere else. And, as funny as it sounds, the Ravens have won a lot of games over the years in much the same fashion.
I’d call the euphoria surrounding Sunday’s win simply a matter of low expectations. We had all given the Ravens a pass this year, allowing the franchise to rebuild after the off-season regime change. But should our expectations really be so low? After all, this is basically the same nicked-up team that came as close as anyone to knocking off the undefeated Patriots during the ’07 regular season — and that was with Kyle Boller at quarterback! Maybe team owner Steve Bisciotti is right; maybe there is the nucleus of a Super Bowl team here. Throw in a guy like Flacco with a young and hungry offensive line, and who knows?
If you ask me, what we saw on Sunday – just like we saw in 2006 – is a guy behind center who can lead an NFL offense. Despite the aforementioned shortcomings, the Ravens offense possessed the ball for over 36 minutes and had 21 first downs to Cincy’s eight. Flacco also threw 29 passes without an interception, and even some of his incompletions were great throws. It was very much the modus operandi that the Ravens have tried to employ for over a decade now: take care of the ball and play good defense.
So if you’re looking to draw significant conclusions from Sunday’s game, forget about the play-calling and new offensive schemes. The story in Baltimore is the Joe Flacco story, and Chapter 1 perhaps doesn’t have to be about growing pains after all.

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Ravens Q & A Time

Posted on 09 September 2008 by caseywillett

Tuesday’s are off days for the Ravens, so this is the best time for a Ravens questions and answers blog. So, send me your Ravens questions and I will give you the best answer that I can.

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Highlights of Coach Harbaugh’s press conference

Posted on 08 September 2008 by caseywillett

Coach Harbaugh wrapped up his first Monday regular season press conference. Here are some news and notes from today:
All though Coach Harbaugh hinted yesterday that he was non committal to who his starting quarterback will be on Sunday, today he said it is Joe Flacco. He said yesterday that he meant for the entire season.
No new news on the injury front. Coach Harbaugh said that he will know more as the week goes on. Cory Ivy was in the locker room and said he fully expects to play on Sunday.
Willie Anderson will play on Sunday, but Coach Harbaugh was not willing to say in what role or how much.
Coach Harbaugh gave a lot of praise to the job that Coach Rex Ryan, Coach Cameron, and Coach Rosburg, did in game planning.
Coach Harbaugh also spoke highly of Todd Heap and the job that he did blocking yesterday.
Coach Harbaugh said the fans were unbelievable yesterday and that it was very hard to hear down on the field, for the coaches, players, and everyone, but it was a good thing.
The players dumped two Gatorade jugs on Coach Harbaugh at the end of the game. He said to him, that was the team accepting him as a member of the Ravens.
Coach Harbaugh said that the two early sacks on Carson Palmer were huge, but the hits he took later in the game were also a big part of that. He also talked about the job that the back end of the defense did in covering and not allowing anything to come open.

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Ravens Dominate Bengals

Posted on 08 September 2008 by Ed Frankovic

Ravens Pound Bengals

The Ravens whipped the Bengals today using a great running game, a physical and intimidating defense, and a high energy effort – something that surprised many fans and media in this town, including myself. However, watching the way the Ravens players went at it today I don’t think they were surprised with their performance and that bodes well for this team going forward, if they can stay healthy. Confidence is a huge thing in sports and this football team has to have that after dominating Cincy today with a young offensive line, a rookie QB, and a rookie RB. The Bengals were a team that had given the Ravens fits the last several years but today the Baltimore Birds put a beat down on Marvin Lewis’ gang.

Here are some of my thoughts on the game today:

–    So just how hurt are Ed Reed, Chris McAlister, and Samari Rolle because they looked pretty healthy today? The Ravens are clearly a different football team when those 3 guys are on the field. Is it possible the Ravens were just being overly cautious with each of them this pre-season or are they really on the verge of being knocked out for several weeks this season or their careers (as we’ve heard about Reed)? I hope our man Casey Willett can get the scoop on this because a healthy secondary is definitely the difference between this team contending for a playoff spot versus the team likely playing for a high draft spot. Reed’s coverage on T.J. Houshmandzadeh early in the game that led to C-Mac’s interception is the type of play that turns a game around.

–    It was great to see the Ravens power running game back. Baltimore got most of their yards behind the strength of their offensive line in center Jason Brown and guards Marshal Yanda and Ben Grubbs. Ray Rice had a very good game except for his costly fumble, but he is a rookie and we’ll let him slide on that one. Le’Ron McClain was outstanding dragging tacklers all day for significant yardage. Bottom line: the Ravens offensive line teed off on the Bengals defensive line all day something we hadn’t really seen around here since 2003 when Jamal Lewis almost broke the NFL single season rushing record.

–    The play of Joe Flacco in total was very good. His TD run was just incredible but we can’t expect him to do that very often (btw, what a great block by Jason Brown on that run!). As for his pocket presence, it was superb! Fellow blogger Chris Pika pointed out that Joe only got hit 1 time in 75 plays meaning the o-line did a good job of blocking and Flacco did a very good job of feeling pressure when it came and moving away from it. As for his throws, I can only think of a couple that were off. #5 under threw Mark Clayton in the first half on a deep pass that if made properly would have been a TD and another time while scrambling out of the pocket he badly overthrew an open Clayton in the flat. Overall I have to give Flacco an A for his performance today.

–    The receivers stepped up today! It was great to see Mark Clayton back and playing at a high level. He can be a dangerous player and he was very good today. Derrick Mason was his usual solid self and he is a great leader for the younger guys. I’ve never met Mason but he seems like a real class act. Another thing the receivers did well was with their run blocking. You can’t run the ball that well without help from the WR’s.

–    I still think that the block in the back call on Yamon Figurs punt return was a very borderline to bad call. It appeared that the Ravens player (I think it was Frank Walker) hit the Bengals punter in the shoulder although from the referees angle he probably saw one of Walker’s hands on the punters back so he threw the flag.

–    Bart Scott and the rest of the Ravens linebackers were phenomenal today. I singled out Scott because he had a tough season last year and he looked more like his 2006 form today. Terrell Suggs, Jason Johnson, and Ray Lewis were all over the field all day and Rex Ryan has to be very proud of that crew.

–    Biggest disappointment of the day: TE Todd Heap. He dropped an easy TD in the second quarter that would have put the Ravens up 14-0 and his fumble in the opening minutes was reminiscent of some of his past ones. That fumble reminded me of the one he had in the Indy playoff game in January 2007 and someone has got to get Heap to stop leaving his feet with the ball under him because it is getting knocked out too much by the opposing team. Luckily for Heap the defense rose to the occasion and shut the Bengals offense down without any points after that turnover (I also think they ended up breaking Carson Palmer’s nose).

–    Coaching: WOW! Clearly the players were energized and how cool was it to see the offense run a “no huddle” sequence? That clearly confused the heck out of Cincinnati. The double reverse was a major risk/reward play so with Clayton going to the house Cam Cameron looks like a genius on that call.

Overall, it was a great day for the purple and black and the doubters have to be re-thinking their pre-season prognostications after this performance (myself included). As I said in the opening, if the Ravens stay healthy this team can contend for a playoff spot based on what I saw today. But this is only week one and right now this team needs to focus on just getting better each week. Next week will be a tough game going to Houston to face a Texans team that had their jocks handed to them by the Pittsburgh Steelers today. As our old coach told us time and time again: “Winning on the road in the NFL is one of the toughest thing to do in sports.”

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