Tag Archive | "Pittsburgh"

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Navy hopes to bounce back Saturday with Homecoming visit from Pitt

Posted on 25 October 2013 by WNST Staff

Game 7 Navy (3-3) vs. Pitt (4-2, 2-2 ACC)
Date and Kickoff Oct. 26, 2013 at 1:00 pm ET
Location Annapolis, Md. | Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (34,000)
Television CBS Sports Network
TV Talent Brad Johansen (play-by-play), Randy Cross (analyst), Sheehan Stanwick-Burch (sideline)

Setting the Stage
• Navy and Pitt will meet for the 39th time when the two square off on Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (34,000) in Annapolis at 1:00 pm.
• Saturday is Homecoming for Navy.  The Mids are 39-24 all-time on Homecoming.  Navy snapped a two-game losing skid on Homecoming thanks to a 31-30 come-from-behind victory over Indiana a year ago. The Mids have dropped five of the last seven Homecoming games.
• Saturday’s game will be televised by CBS Sports Network with Brad Johansen (play-by-play), Randy Cross (color) and Sheehan Stanwick-Burch (sideline) on the call.

Game Day Festivities
• Pregame festivities will get underway at approximately 10:30 a.m. with the Navy Football Team Walk.  Originating at the Blue Angel in the southwest corner of the stadium, the team will make its way down the sidewalk and through NavyFest before walking up the drive to the stadium.  Fans are encouraged to line up on both sides of the sidewalk to cheer for the team.
• The March-On of the Brigade of Midshipmen will take place at 12:40 pm.
• Between the first and second quarters there will be a Verizon Wireless/Yellow Ribbon Fund recognition.
•    At halftime, the Naval Academy Drum & Bugle Corps will play and there will be a performance by the silent drill team.
•    The three-time defending Patriot League Champion Navy women’s basketball team will be honored between the third and fourth quarters.
• Following the game, Navy’s alma mater, the Navy Blue & Gold, will be played as the team will stand at attention in front of the Brigade of Midshipmen.  It is one of the best traditions in college sports.

Scouting Pitt
• Navy faces another talented opponent this week in the Pitt Panthers (4-2).  Pitt owns victories over New Mexico (49-27), Duke (58-55), Virginia (14-3) and Old Dominion (35-24), while its losses have come at the hands of undefeated and national championship contender No. 3-ranked Florida State (41-13) and to a one-loss Virginia Tech squad (19-9) that is ranked 19th in the country.
•    The Mids will face another terrific running back in junior Isaac Bennett, who is coming off a 30-carry, 240-yard, three-touchdown performance against Old Dominion.  Bennett, who shares time with freshman James Conner, leads the Panthers in rushing with 450 yards and five touchdowns on 77 carries (5.8 yds/carry).
•    Senior quarterback Tom Savage has completed 88 of his 155 pass attempts for 1,343 yards with 11 touchdowns and six interceptions. Savage’s favorite targets are freshman Tyler Boyd (31-491, 4 TDs) and senior Devin Street (26-549, 3 TDs).  Street, with 177-career catches, is two receptions shy of the Pitt school record.
•    Junior linebacker Anthony Gonzalez paces the Panher defense with 41 tackles, three pass break-ups, 1.5 tackles for a loss and an interception, while senior strong safety Jason Hendricks has recorded 40 tackles, two tackles for a loss, one interception and one forced fumble.
• Senior defensive tackle Aaron Donald is one of the best defensive lineman in the country.  His 26.5 career sacks are the most in the country among active players and he already has an incredible eight sacks and 12.5 tackles for a loss in six games this year.
•    Pitt ranks ninth in the country in yards per completion (15.2), 19th in tackles for a loss (7.5 per game) and 23rd in fewest fumbles lost (3).
•    Individually, Donald is ranked No. 1 in sacks per game (1.3) and tackles for a loss per game (2.1), Savage is seventh in passing yards per completion (15.3), Street is 15th in receiving yards per game (109.8), Matt Yoklic is 17th in yards per punt (43.9) and Boyd ranks 24th in all-purpose yards per game (134.3).

Navy vs. THE ACC
•    Navy has played the teams currently in the ACC fairly tough, posting a 128-131-8 (.494) record overall.
•    The Mids have posted winning records against Duke, Maryland, NC State, Viriginia and Virginia Tech.
•    The Mids lost to Duke earlier this year, 35-7.

Mids Look To Avoid Three-Game Losing Streak
• Dating back to 2003, Navy has had just one losing streak longer than two games.
•    In 2011, the Mids started the year 2-0 before dropping six consecutive games (at South Carolina, Air Force, Southern Miss, at Rutgers, East Carolina and at Notre Dame).  Navy finished the year with a 5-7 record. That is the only season in the last 10 that Navy has not made a bowl game.
•    On six other occasions dating back to 2003, the Mids have lost two games in a row but found a way to win the next game.
•    In 2005, Navy started the year with losses to Maryland in Baltimore (23-20) and at home to Stanford (40-38) before winning at Duke, 28-21. That team went on to post an 8-4 record including a win over Colorado State in the Poinsettia bowl.
•    In 2006, Navy lost to Rugers (34-0) and to Notre Dame in Baltimore (38-14) in back-to-back games before winning at Duke (38-13), which spurred a four-game winning streak to end the regular season, as Navy finished 9-4 and played in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
•    In 2007, Navy had a pair of two-game losing streaks as the Mids lost at Rutgers (41-24) and to Ball State (34-31 in OT) at the start of the year before bouncing back to beat Duke at home, 46-43. Later in the year, the Mids lost at home to Wake Forest (44-24) and Delaware (59-52) before winning at Notre Dame for the first time since 1963, 46-44, in triple overtime.  That win over Notre Dame was the start of a four-game winning streak to end the regular season as Navy finished 8-5 and played Utah in the Poinsettia Bowl.
•    In 2008, Navy started 1-2 , defeating Towson 41-13 in the opener before dropping games at Ball State (35-23) and at Duke (41-31).  The Mids, however, would rally to upset a heavily-favored Rutgers squad 23-21 and went on to post an 8-5 record and a berth in the EagleBank Bowl against Wake Forest.
•    In 2012, the MIds started the year by losing to Notre Dame in Ireland (50-10) and at Penn State (34-7) before coming back to beat VMI, 41-3.  Navy finished last year with an 8-5 record and played Arizona State in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

Mids Lose Heartbreaker To Toledo
•    (AP) – Toledo, relying on a pair of freshmen after its top rusher went down, ran for 316 yards against Navy in a thrilling 45-44 double overtime victory.
• Terrance Owens tossed a 20-yard touchdown to Bernard Reedy — his first TD pass of the day — and Jeremiah Detmer kicked the extra point, allowing Toledo to survive after it gave up a late fourth quarter lead.
• Navy (3-3) piled up 419 yards rushing, but Toledo managed to match the Mids’ formidable triple-option time after time.
• Toledo’s David Fluellen controlled things on the ground early on and finished with 154 rushing yards on 19 carries before being taken into the locker room at the beginning of the fourth with an injured back.  Fluellen extended his streak of six straight 100-yard games.
•    Freshman Kareem Hunt took over for the Rockets in the fourth quarter. His 19-yard touchdown put Toledo up 31-21 with 12:10 to play. Hunt ended up with 128 yards rushing on 15 carries. He also scored on a 52-yard run in the third quarter.
• Navy came back in the fourth quarter with a pair of impressive drives.
• The Midshipmen put together a 96-yard drive that was capped off by Reynolds’ 3-yard touchdown run, pulling Navy within 31-28 with just under five minutes left.
• Navy got the ball quickly after forcing Toledo to punt and drove 43 yards to set up Sloan’s field goal that sent the game into overtime. The kick was a yard shy of his career long.
• Toledo freshman Damion Jones-Moore scored on a 1-yard touchdown to give Toledo a 38-31 lead in the first overtime.
• Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds scored on 1-yard keeper to send the game into a second overtime.
• The winning play came after Navy’s Geoffrey Whiteside scored on a 9-yard touchdown to give Navy a 44-38 lead. ButNick Sloan missed the extra point.
• Sloan had just sent the game into overtime with a 40-yard field goal on the final play in regulation.
• Owens, who had struggled much of the game, found Reedy wide open in the end zone on Toledo’s second play of the second overtime.
• Reynolds completed just 5 of 12 passes for Navy, but he ran for three short touchdowns.
• Noah Copeland led Navy on the ground with 153 yards rushing.
• Navy had little trouble moving the ball against the Rockets in the first half, but twice the Midshipmen drove inside Toledo’s 30-yard-line without getting any points. They were stopped on downs the second time they had the ball and Sloan later missed a 38-yard field goal in the second quarter.
• Toledo’s only touchdown of the first half came on a Navy turnover.
• Reynolds fumbled on a keeper and Toledo defensive end Jayrone Elliott picked it up in the middle of a pile, racing 68 yards for a touchdown to give Toledo a 10-7 lead with 13:08 left in the second quarter.

Record Setting Day    
• Despite the loss to the Rockets, the Mids set school records for total plays with 106 (previously 105 vs. Air Force in 2011, a game the Mids also lost in overtime on a missed extra-point) and rush attempts with 93 (previously 80 vs. Rice in 2009 and Air Force in 2011).
• The Mids just missed setting a school record for first downs with 35. The record of 36 was set on Nov. 11, 2000, in a loss at Tulane.

Getting The Fullbacks Going    
• The Mids finally got the fullbacks going in the Toledo game as junior Noah Copeland (153 yds) and sophomore Chris Swain (62 yds) combined for 215 yards on 41 carries.  The previous high out of the fullback position this year came against Duke when they rushed for 87 yards on 20 carries.
• Copeland had the best game of his career the Mids’ loss to the Rockets, finishing with a career-high 153 yards rushing. It was his first 100-yard day of the year and third of his career. His previous high was 126 yards set last year against VMI.
• Copeland is Navy’s first back to go over 150 yards since Gee Gee Greene rushed for 150 yards in a loss at Troy last year and it’s the most yards rushing by a Navy player since Keenan Reynolds rushed for 159 yards last year against Florida Atlantic.
• Copeland also had his first-career touchdown reception against Toledo, catching a 20-yard pass from Reynolds.

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Ravens defense slow to stop the run in recent weeks

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Ravens defense slow to stop the run in recent weeks

Posted on 22 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After revamping their front seven in an offseason filled with changes on both sides of the ball, the Ravens expected their run defense to be one of their biggest strengths in 2013.

With veterans such as Chris Canty, Daryl Smith, and Marcus Spears joining a nucleus that already included Pro Bowl mainstays Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata, the Ravens were all but assured to improve substantially from a year ago when they fielded the league’s 20th-ranked run defense and gave up 122.8 yards per game on the ground. All appeared to be going to plan early in the season as Baltimore entered its Week 4 meeting with the Buffalo Bills ranked fourth against the run.

Instead, an unexpected loss to the Bills on Sept. 29 started a disturbing trend as the Ravens have now allowed 140 or more yards on the ground in three of their last four games. That stretch continued in humbling fashion this past Sunday as the Steelers’ running game — ranked 31st out of 32 teams entering Week 7 — bullied the Ravens to the tune of 141 yards on 29 carries in a 19-16 defeat to their AFC North rivals.

“They did some new things that we haven’t seen from them,” Suggs said. “Not just this year, but ever. Pittsburgh has never come out and run the Wildcat on us. They’ve never come out with extra linemen. You just have to be able to adjust on the fly. They were able to get some runs off of that early on.”

Entering their bye week with the NFL’s 16th-ranked rush defense at 104.3 yards given up per game, the Ravens have been slow to adjust to the opponents’ running game on more than one occasion this year. In preparing for the Bills, the Ravens spent extensive time focusing on the read-option attack that had been used by quarterback EJ Manuel before Buffalo used more of a conventional approach in gaining 203 yards on 55 carries with 116 coming in the first half. Instructed to use patience in letting the play come to them when facing the read option, the Ravens were instead on their heels as Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller had huge days on the ground for the Bills.

By the time defensive coordinator Dean Pees made the necessary adjustments at halftime, the Ravens were already behind on a day in which quarterback Joe Flacco threw a career-worst five interceptions and the Bills were able to use a conservative ground approach in the second half.

Against the Steelers, the Ravens couldn’t have been expecting such a run-heavy approach, but Pittsburgh used gadget plays as well as a steady diet of rookie Le’Veon Bell to exploit the aggressive tendencies of the front seven. It wasn’t a matter of being unable to shed blocks but a failure to play individual assignments and to read blocks longer in protecting cutbacks, according to Pees.

Other times, the defensive line was simply controlled at the line of scrimmage by a Pittsburgh line that included three backup starters due to injuries.

“The first run of the game, we got the guy stuffed in the hole, and then we just kind of jump off a block a little too quick,” Pees said. “We’re a little too impatient, and [Le’Veon] Bell is a patient runner, and he ended up cutting it all the way back on us right into a blitz. And everything was good until we just jumped off the block, and then he found the crease. That happened to us about three or four times during the course of the game that we got off blocks actually too quick.”

The 141 rushing yards surrendered against Pittsburgh followed the 140 given up the previous week in a home loss to the Green Bay Packers, who sport the league’s sixth-ranked rushing attack. Unlike the Steelers who were able to consistently grind out yards to extend drives, the Packers collected a sizable portion of their production on just a few runs when rookie Eddie Lacy ran for 47 yards on the first two plays of the game and then collected another 17-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Aside from the Steelers’ final march to kick the game-winning field goal on Sunday, no drive was more painful than the 13-play, 70-yard sequence that resulted in a 28-yard field goal and took over eight minutes off the clock in the third quarter. The Steelers gained 41 yards on the ground during that possession alone as their running game was a major factor in controlling the clock and limiting Baltimore to just seven possessions over the entire game.

“[The Pittsburgh game] wasn’t as much big plays as just as kind of bleeding us,” Pees said. “Six, seven, eight yards, which really created a second problem, and that’s third down, which we’ve been very good at. But I’ve said it before: It’s hard to be good on third down when it’s third-and-one and third-and-two.”

The defense has been far from the Ravens’ biggest problem in a disappointing 3-4 start, but Sunday marked the second straight week in which failing to stop the run was a major contributor in the opponent’s ability to put together a long drive in the second half. Against the Packers, the Ravens surrendered 36 rushing yards on a 72-yard fourth-quarter drive that lasted 7:35 and gave Green Bay a nine-point lead with just over four minutes to go. The Ravens would quickly score a touchdown to pull within two but would not get the ball back as the Packers then ran out the clock.

With an offense that’s largely struggled to simply move the ball consistently let alone score touchdowns instead of field goals, limiting its total number of possessions is a recipe for failure more often than not. And a run defense failing to meet high expectations is another reason why the Ravens have lost three of four to fall below the .500 mark for the first time this late in a season in the John Harbaugh era.

No matter what the reason in a given week, the leaky run defense is just one of several issues plaguing the Ravens as they approach the midway point of the season.

“The yardage is the same, which is not good, which we’ve got to get corrected,” Pees said. “If we’re going to be a good defense, we can’t let anybody run the ball on us.”

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Steelers

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Steelers

Posted on 22 October 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 19-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at Heinz Field…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Bernard Pierce tackled by Lawrence Timmons and Steve McLendon for one yard loss on 3rd & 1 (1st quarter)

You cannot start a 3rd & 1 run five yards behind the line of scrimmage. Oy.

4. Lamar Woodley sacks Joe Flacco for 10 yard loss on 3rd & 8 from Pittsburgh 34 (2nd quarter)

It would have been a long field goal attempt, but I’d rather that than a punt.

3. William Gay breaks up Joe Flacco pass intended for Jacoby Jones on 3rd & 12 (3rd quarter)

Man did that one really bother me watching the film again Monday. Very close to six.

2. Elvis Dumervil called for unnecessary roughness after Jerricho Cotchery 7 yard catch from Ben Roethlisberger (3rd quarter)

From 2nd & 17 to an eight minute drive.

1. Vince Williams recovers Justin Tucker onside kick attempt, Tucker flagged for illegal touching (4th quarter)

The decision was questionable. The execution was putrid.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Assessing Ravens at bye with WNST crew in Pittsburgh

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Assessing Ravens at bye with WNST crew in Pittsburgh

Posted on 20 October 2013 by WNSTV

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Our Ravens/Steelers “Slaps to the Head”

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Our Ravens/Steelers “Slaps to the Head”

Posted on 20 October 2013 by Glenn Clark

After Baltimore Ravens victories, Ryan Chell and I award players who made positive contributions with “Pats on the Ass” during the Creative Deck Designs Postgame Show on AM1570 WNST.net.

The Ravens fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 19-16 Sunday at Heinz Field, meaning there were no Pats to be awarded.

So instead of offering “Pats on the Ass”, Ryan and I offered “Slaps to the Head” postgame. A slap on the side of the head from a coach tends to come along with them saying something along the lines of “you’ve gotta do better than that.”

Same rules as there were with Pats. Two offensive players, two defensive players, and a Wild Card (Special Teams player, coach, or another Offensive or Defensive player). One player gets “two slaps” (or a slap on both sides of the head), it’s the opposite of a “Player of the Game” honor.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches after each game.

Here are our five Ravens that have “gotta do better than that.”

Glenn Clark’s Slaps…

5. Joe Flacco

4. Jeromy Miles

3. Bernard Pierce

2. Haloti Ngata

1. Elvis Dumervil (Two Slaps)

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ray Rice: “We’ve got to get better”

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Ray Rice: “We’ve got to get better”

Posted on 20 October 2013 by WNSTV

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Suggs declares state of emergency for Ravens

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Suggs declares state of emergency for Ravens

Posted on 20 October 2013 by WNSTV

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Ravens-Steelers: Inactives and pre-game notes

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Ravens-Steelers: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 20 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

PITTSBURGH — Aiming to enter their bye week on a positive note while also burying their biggest rival even further, the Ravens travel to Heinz Field to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon.

Baltimore has won three consecutive regular-season games in Pittsburgh and will try to avoid falling below the .500 mark this late in the season for the first time in the John Harbaugh era. Meanwhile, the Steelers are coming off their first win of the season last week and can improve to 2-4 with a victory over their bitter rivals.

Inside linebacker Jameel McClain will make his 2013 debut against Pittsburgh as he makes his return from a spinal cord contusion suffered on Dec. 9, 2012. With starter Josh Bynes out after undergoing surgery for an infection in his finger, McClain is expected to see plenty of defensive snaps along with rookie second-round pick Arthur Brown at the weakside inside linebacker position.

For the second straight week, the Ravens have listed former starting left tackle Bryant McKinnie as inactive, meaning they will use rookie tackle Rick Wagner once again if they want to line up in a jumbo formation with a tackle-eligible blocker. McKinnie has been dealing with knee swelling for the last couple weeks but has not been listed on the injury report.

With Pittsburgh unable to move the football via the ground all season and relying more on the passing game, the Ravens have listed defensive linemen Terrence Cody and DeAngelo Tyson as inactive. Cody practiced on a limited basis all week in coming back from a knee injury suffered last month but will ultimately miss his fourth straight game.

For the Steelers, rookie outside linebacker Jarvis Jones was not cleared after suffering a concussion last week and will be inactive for Week 7. He is expected to be replaced by Jason Worilds in the Pittsburgh starting defense.

A win on Sunday would give the Ravens their 14th in their last 16 games against the AFC North and improve Harbaugh’s record to 23-9 against division opponents. It would also give the Ravens a 2-0 record against the division this season with all other AFC North teams already sporting one loss on their division mark.

Sunday marks the 38th overall time these teams have played in the last 18 years with the Steelers owning the 19-15 edge in the regular season and a 3-0 mark against the Ravens in the postseason. Of the last 10 regular-season games played between these teams, eight have been decided by three points with the Ravens and Steelers each coming away with five wins over that span.

The Ravens will wear white jerseys with black pants while Pittsburgh dons black jerseys with gold pants on Sunday. This is the first time these teams have met in Pittsburgh and not played in prime time since the 2010 season.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Bill Leavy.

Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-50s for the 4:25 p.m. kickoff with winds up to 13 miles per hour. Unlike the many times these teams have locked up later in the season in Pittsburgh, the grass appeared to be in good shape — and actually looked green — at Heinz Field prior to kickoff.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
LB Josh Bynes
DT Terrence Cody
OL Jah Reid
C Ryan Jensen
T Bryant McKinnie
WR Brandon Stokley
DE DeAngelo Tyson

PITTSBURGH
LB Jarvis Jones
QB Landry Jones
WR Markus Wheaton
CB Curtis Brown
RB Isaac Redman
TE Richard Gordon
NT Hebron Fangupo

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the afternoon for updates and analysis as Nestor Aparicio, Drew Forrester, and I bring live coverage from Heinz Field throughout the day.

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Ravens-Steelers: Five predictions for Sunday

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Ravens-Steelers: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 19 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

Meeting for the 38th time in the last 18 years, the Ravens and Steelers renew one of the greatest rivalries in the NFL at Heinz Field on Sunday afternoon.

The buildup of this year’s first meeting between the AFC North rivals lacks its normal buzz as this is the first time since 2002 — not counting season openers — in which the Ravens and Steelers meet with neither team sporting a winning record. However, the game could be even more critical than usual for each team as the Steelers are trying to climb out of the 0-4 hole they dug for themselves in September while the Ravens don’t want to head into their bye week with a losing record.

The cast of characters continues to change in this rivalry as the likes of Ray Lewis, Hines Ward, Ed Reed, and James Harrison are no longer present, but Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger takes on the Ravens for the first time since Nov. 6, 2011 with a now-healthy Terrell Suggs aiming for him on the edge. Meanwhile, the Ravens will attempt to win their fourth straight regular-season game in Pittsburgh, which would be a franchise best after Baltimore also won three straight on the road from 1999 through 2001.

It’s time to go on the record as the Steelers lead the regular-season series by a 19-15 margin while also owning a 3-0 advantage in postseason contests. The Ravens are 7-10 all-time in Pittsburgh but have won three of the last four games overall at Heinz Field. Of the last 10 games played in the regular season between these two rivals, eight have been decided by three points and each team has won five.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens look to put the Steelers in a 1-5 early-season hole while also earning their 14th win in their last 16 AFC North games …

1. Punters Sam Koch and Zoltan Mesko will have a very busy afternoon with a combined 15 punts.
You can feel your eyelids getting heavy just reading that first prediction, but neither team’s offense has inspired confidence this season as the Ravens rank 22nd in total yards while the Steelers are 18th. Both teams rank in the bottom six in rush offense, putting plenty of pressure on their respective quarterbacks. These teams combined for 25 punts in their two meetings last year, and I’d expect a similar story this season with points at a premium. The Ravens’ struggles on first and second down are well-documented as they rank 23rd in third-down conversion percentage while Pittsburgh is 21st in the league in third-down percentage. With strong defenses and a history of close, low-scoring games, field position will be very critical in determining the winner of this one as it often has been over the years.

2. Jacoby Jones won’t cash in with a touchdown like he did last year in Pittsburgh, but a big play from the wide receiver and return specialist will set up a Ravens touchdown. His 63-yard punt return for a score was the difference between a win and a loss at Heinz Field last year, and the Ravens are surely glad to have Jones’ speed back on the field via special teams and the passing game. Jones provides a consistent vertical threat on the opposite side of the field to Torrey Smith that the Ravens hope will take away some of the bracketed coverage Smith has seen this season without much complementary speed on the field. Jones made his presence immediately known last week in catching a touchdown in the second half against Green Bay, and he will set the Ravens up on a short field with a long return on a day when the offenses will struggle for each team.

3. The Steelers have sported the better overall pass defense, but the Ravens’ ferocious pass rush will lead to five sacks against Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh’s secondary has played at a very high level this season in allowing only 196 passing yards per game, but the pass rush has been underwhelming with just seven sacks, ranking 31st in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Ravens rank third in the league with 22 sacks and have consistently gotten pressure on quarterbacks to help out a suspect secondary. It’s no secret that the Pittsburgh offensive line has struggled this season, but the Ravens will once again face a quarterback with the ability to escape pressure to extend plays for receivers to get open down the field. After facing Miami’s Ryan Tannehill and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers in the last two games, the Ravens will be ready to face Roethlisberger, who isn’t as elusive as he was in his younger days. That will lead to a rough day for the Pittsburgh quarterback in the pocket.

4. With the running game a non-factor for both teams, the focus will shift to the passing game with Smith and Antonio Brown shining for their respective teams. The Ravens spoke about making changes this week to energize a rush offense averaging a paltry 2.7 yards per carry and the Steelers surprisingly rank an uncharacteristic 22nd against the run, but Baltimore will need to show it to make me believe they can do anything productive on the ground. The Steelers have been almost as inept at 3.1 yards per rushing attempt as their offense depends on Roethlisberger’s arm and the passing game. Smith was the hero in Pittsburgh two years ago in catching a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds of a comeback victory and will catch a touchdown on Sunday. Brown has been the offensive star for the Steelers with 41 catches and 498 yards, and he will get behind the defense for a score as Roethlisberger scrambles out of trouble and extends a play.

5. Continuing their profile of rarely making it look pretty — or easy — this season, the Ravens squeak out a 14-13 win for their fourth straight regular-season win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh. An early lead would go a long way in providing confidence for quarterback Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense, but there’s no reason to think Sunday will bring the breakthrough performance the unit is waiting for. That said, Flacco has come up with just enough big plays to get the job done in Pittsburgh in each of the last three regular-season meetings and he will be opportunistic against a formidable defense. Field position, limiting turnovers, and third-down efficiency are critical factors to win in any football game, but they will be even more important in this one where the offenses figure to be challenged for most of the afternoon. Neither of these teams are at their best right now, but the Ravens are the better group and will do just enough to squeak out a narrow road victory.

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Bynes out, McClain listed as probable on Ravens’ injury report

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Bynes out, McClain listed as probable on Ravens’ injury report

Posted on 18 October 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens will be forced to reshuffle their lineup at inside linebacker for Sunday’s game against the Steelers as starter Josh Bynes has been ruled out after undergoing surgery on his infect finger.

Coach John Harbaugh announced after Friday’s practice that Bynes’ infection hadn’t responded to antibiotics over the last few days, which prompted the need for him to have surgery to clean the finger out. The coach said the infection isn’t anything serious like the MRSA outbreak that’s recently plagued the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bynes suffered the cut a couple weeks ago, according to the Baltimore coach.

“We thought we’d have him back to practice Wednesday, then Thursday,” Harbaugh said. “Last night, the infection beat the antibiotics, so he had to get surgery on that finger to get it cleaned out. He’s doing fine, but that will preclude him from being able to play in this game.”

That news coupled with veteran Jameel McClain being listed as probable could lead to the Ravens returning the latter to the 53-man roster by 4 p.m. on Saturday. The sixth-year linebacker returned to the practice field earlier this week after being sidelined the last 10 months with a spinal cord contusion.

Harbaugh was noncommittal regarding McClain’s status against Pittsburgh, but the Ravens must return him to the 53-man roster by 4 p.m. on Saturday in order to play against Pittsburgh. Should McClain not play on Sunday, rookie Arthur Brown would take Bynes’ place in the starting defense next to fellow inside linebacker Daryl Smith.

“He’s up. It’s just if we want to take him off that designation and put him on the [53-man roster],” Harbaugh said. “Why don’t we just wait and see on that? I’m not prepared to make an announcement on that right now.”

Wide receiver Brandon Stokley was listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game as he missed the last two days of practice while continuing to battle a groin injury.

Stokley hasn’t played in a game since Sept. 22 as he’s dealt with the ailment and was even released a day prior to the Ravens’ win in Miami on Oct. 6 before being re-signed a few days later. With the rest of the Ravens’ group of wide receivers finally healthy, Stokley’s future in Baltimore is appearing foggier by the week.

“Brandon came out on Wednesday and got through the practice 100 percent,” Harbaugh said. “[He] came out on Thursday and didn’t feel as good. We’re continuing to rest him to try to get that right. I don’t foresee him playing in the game at this point unless something changes.”

The Ravens listed six players as questionable, including defensive tackles Haloti Ngata and Terrence Cody, linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Albert McClellan, and cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Chykie Brown. All of the aforementioned players except for McClellan practiced all week on a limited basis.

After missing Wednesday’s practice with a thigh issue, defensive end Chris Canty was designated as probable for Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Steelers listed rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones as questionable as he continues to recover from a concussion sustained in last week’s game.

Right tackle Marcus Gilbert, defensive end Brett Keisel, linebacker LaMarr Woodley, and tight end heath Miller were all listed as probable.

Here is the final injury report for the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: LB Josh Bynes (thigh, finger)
DOUBTFUL: C Ryan Jensen (foot), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Chykie Brown (thigh), DT Terrence Cody (knee), LB Albert McClellan (shoulder), DT Haloti Ngata (elbow), LB Courtney Upshaw (foot), CB Lardarius Webb (thigh)
PROBABLE: DE Chris Canty (thigh), LB Jameel McClain (neck), DT Marcus Spears (knee)

PITTSBURGH
OUT: TE Richard Gordon (toe) , WR Markus Wheaton (finger)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Jarvis Jones (concussion)
PROBABLE: T Marcus Gilbert (quad), DE Brett Keisel (abdomen), TE Heath Miller (NIR), LB LaMarr Woodley (knee)

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