Tag Archive | "James Harrison"

torrey2011

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens regular-season moment No. 2: “We know what kind of quarterback we have”

Posted on 26 June 2020 by Luke Jones

Check out the No. 3 regular-season moment in Ravens history HERE.

The Ravens had clobbered Pittsburgh in the 2011 opener in Baltimore.

But that didn’t matter now as they traveled to Heinz Field to take on a Steelers team that had won four straight entering November. A loss would drop the Ravens to third place behind both Pittsburgh and surprising Cincinnati in the AFC North, making their Week 9 clash on Sunday Night Football a crucial one.

Doubts about quarterback Joe Flacco persisted despite his comeback win in Pittsburgh the previous year as the Ravens had lost their home rematch in December — costing themselves the AFC North and a first-round bye in the process — and had blown a 14-point halftime lead in the their 2010 divisional-round defeat to the Steelers. Flacco was far from the only reason the Ravens lost those games, but he hadn’t played particularly well in some key moments as questions continued about his ability to lead his team to a championship. A stretch of lackluster performances in October hadn’t helped perceptions either.

The game started with a bang as Ray Rice took an inside hand-off, cut left, and galloped 76 yards for an apparent touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, reminiscent of the way the Ravens had begun the Week 1 blowout win. However, rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith was flagged for holding, negating the score and setting the tone for what would be a defensive battle for much of the night. The teams combined for five field goals in the first half with Billy Cundiff’s 51-yarder sending the Ravens to the locker room with a 9-6 lead at intermission.

The Steelers drove to the Baltimore red zone on the first drive of the second half before 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs intercepted Ben Roethlisberger’s pass in the short flat. With that turnover, the Ravens methodically moved down the field and took advantage of a 23-yard pass interference penalty as Rice’s 4-yard touchdown run increased the lead to 16-6 with 4:27 remaining in the third quarter.

The Steelers weren’t going away, however, as Roethlisberger bounced back from his mistake to lead an 11-play, 80-yard drive resulting in a 1-yard touchdown run for Rashard Mendenhall to make it 16-13 early in the fourth quarter.

The Ravens then marched to the Pittsburgh 36 before an all-too-familiar feeling of dread returned. On third-and-8, Pro Bowl outside linebacker James Harrison sacked Flacco, forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Steelers. Moving to the Baltimore 25 on five plays, Roethlisberger scrambled right on third-and-5 and found Mike Wallace in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:59 to play.

On the ensuing possession, three straight Flacco incompletions resulted in a punt that Steelers receiver Antonio Brown returned to his own 46. The Ravens were in serious trouble as Pittsburgh had the ball, good field position, and a 20-16 lead with 4:30 remaining.

After converting a big third down, the Steelers moved into field-goal range before making a costly error. On fourth-and-5 from the 29, indecisiveness struck the Pittsburgh sideline as Roethlisberger initially lobbied to go for the first down and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was late sending kicker Shaun Suisham onto the field, resulting in a delay of game. With Suisham kicking into the tricky open end of Heinz Field, a 47-yard attempt would have been far from a sure thing, but the penalty instead prompted a Jeremy Kapinos punt that pinned the Ravens back at their own 8-yard line.

Ninety-two yards were needed with just 2:24 and one timeout remaining, a far more difficult position than the previous fall when Flacco had found T.J. Houshmandzadeh for the game-winner in Pittsburgh.

A 21-yard completion over the middle to Anquan Boldin got the Ravens out of the shadow of their own end zone at the two-minute warning. A 13-yard sideline strike to seldom-used undrafted rookie LaQuan Williams moved them to their own 42. A few plays later, Baltimore faced a fourth-and-1 from the Pittsburgh 49 when Flacco again found Boldin over the middle for 10 yards to extend the game.

But that’s when the drive began going sideways. On second-and-8 from the 37, Flacco escaped pressure, climbed the pocket, and threw deep to a wide-open Smith, who dropped the ball in the end zone. Boldin would catch the third-down pass to move the chains on the next snap, but the veteran receiver then dropped a perfect throw over the middle that would have moved the Ravens inside the 10.

As Cris Collinsworth remarked on the NBC broadcast, “Joe Flacco is doing a great job on this drive, and his receivers are completely letting him down.”

Facing third-and-10 from the 26, Flacco and the Ravens still had a timeout, but only 16 seconds remained. Undeterred by Smith’s drop moments earlier, Flacco threw deep to the sideline as the second-round rookie gave a veteran-like nudge to Steelers cornerback William Gay and caught the redemptive touchdown with eight seconds to go.

There was instant silence in Pittsburgh. In a throwback rivalry in which the most defining moments had always gone the other way, the Ravens finally enjoyed theirs in the national spotlight.

The 23-20 win proved to be the difference in the Ravens winning their first division title in five years and clinching a first-round bye. But it meant more than that for Flacco, who had orchestrated the most brilliant drive of his career. The touchdown pass in Pittsburgh the previous year had flashed his late-game ability, but leading a 92-yard march in a Sunday night road game against his biggest adversary was special, especially considering the aforementioned drops and the celebrated Ravens defense had given up 14 points in the final quarter.

No, Flacco wasn’t Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or Peyton Manning and never would be, but he had touched greatness when it mattered most. And while the misfortunes of Cundiff and Lee Evans 2 1/2 months later in New England meant the Ravens would wait another year to finally taste Super Bowl glory, that 2011 win in Pittsburgh eliminated any doubt that such a postseason run was possible, whether Flacco’s critics wanted to admit it or not.

“Maybe people will stop putting him down now. We know what kind of quarterback we have,” Boldin said after the season-sweeping win over the Steelers. “There was no panic with our offense, and I think you saw that. A lot of it starts with our quarterback. He was real poised.”

Comments (1)

wallace

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens-Steelers: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 01 October 2017 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — It’s been 1,763 days since Pittsburgh beat the Ravens in Baltimore.

Add two more years for the last time longtime Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was at the helm for a win at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Ravens hope to continue their home dominance over the Steelers Sunday while trying to move past the embarrassment of last week’s debacle in London. The 37-point loss to Jacksonville tied the franchise record for largest margin of defeat, but Pittsburgh is coming off its own ugly performance in an overtime loss at lowly Chicago last Sunday.

Injuries continue to take their toll on the Ravens as starting defensive end Brent Urban was lost for the season last week with a foot injury while defensive tackle Brandon Williams was ruled out for the second straight week with a foot injury sustained in Week 2. Those absences will put much pressure on a young defensive line lacking experience.

Second-year defensive end and 2016 third-round pick Bronson Kaufusi is active for the first time in his NFL career and figures to be a part of the game-day rotation. During pre-game warmups, he was lining up at the starting 5-technique defensive end spot while Carl Davis was at the 3-technique defensive tackle position in place of Williams.

After returning to practice as a full participant on Friday, veteran tight end Benjamin Watson (calf) is indeed active for Sunday’s game after successfully going through a morning workout at the stadium.

Second-year wide receiver Chris Moore is a healthy scratch as running back Alex Collins has recently assumed the kick return duties. Recently-signed veteran linebacker Jonathan Freeny is active and expected to fill an expanded role on special-teams units.

Meanwhile, the Steelers have three notable inactives as starting safety Mike Mitchell (hamstring), starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert (hamstring), and outside linebacker James Harrison (illness) will not play. All three were listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week, but it’s worth noting that Harrison’s role has diminished substantially due to the emergence of rookie T.J. Watt.

J.J. Wilcox is expected to start in place of Mitchell while Chris Hubbard will play right tackle for Pittsburgh.

Sunday’s referee is Walt Anderson.

According to Weather.com, the Sunday forecast in Baltimore calls for sunny skies and temperatures reaching the high 60s with calm winds around four miles per hour and no chance of precipitation.

The Ravens are wearing their alternate black jerseys with black pants while Pittsburgh dons white tops with gold pants.

Sunday marks the 43rd all-time meeting between these AFC North rivals in the regular season with the Steelers enjoying a slight 22-20 advantage. However, the Ravens have won six of the last eight overall meetings — including a road victory in the 2014 postseason — and own a 12-9 all-time record in Baltimore.

Below are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
DT Brandon Williams
TE Maxx Williams
CB Jaylen Hill
WR Chris Moore
OL Tony Bergstrom
OL Dieugot Joseph
DE Chris Wormley

PITTSBURGH
QB Joshua Dobbs
WR Eli Rogers
S Mike Mitchell
OT Jerald Hawkins
OT Marcus Gilbert
LB James Harrison
DT Daniel McCullers

Comments Off on Ravens-Steelers: Inactives and pre-game notes

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ravens-Steelers: Five predictions for Saturday night

Posted on 02 January 2015 by Luke Jones

Here we go again.

Regarded by many as the best rivalry in the NFL, the Ravens and Steelers meet for the third time this season and the fourth time ever in the postseason at Heinz Field on Saturday night. Baltimore and Pittsburgh split a pair of 20-point finals during the regular season with each team winning on its home field.

The weather figures to be a significant storyline as the forecast continues to call for a 90 to 100 percent chance of rain with temperatures in the mid-40s and winds that could reach 20 miles per hour.

Both teams will be dealing with significant injuries as the Steelers will be without Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell while the Ravens are missing left tackle Eugene Monroe for the second straight game, meaning rookie free agent James Hurst will start in his place. Pittsburgh will rely on rookies Josh Harris and Dri Archer as well as newly-signed veteran Ben Tate to pick up the slack in Bell’s absence.

In more positive news, the Ravens will welcome back five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata from suspension, which will more than offset the loss of rookie Timmy Jernigan (foot) in Week 17.

Of course, both team will lean heavily on Super Bowl winning quarterbacks to lead the way as Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger both know what it takes to make a meaningful run in January. Roethlisberger owns a 10-4 postseason record while Flacco owns a 9-4 mark in the playoffs.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens and Steelers meet for the fourth time in postseason history with Pittsburgh holding a 3-0 mark with all previous playoff games being played at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh also leads the all-time regular-season series 21-17, but 13 of the 16 games — including the postseason — played between the Ravens and Steelers in the John Harbaugh era have been decided by one possession.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens try to beat Pittsburgh for the first time ever in the postseason …

1. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil will each collect a sack, but a sloppy field will neutralize some of their ability to wreak havoc. Bell’s absence will put plenty of attention on the Pittsburgh passing game, which will have the Ravens’ rush licking its chops over the possibility of being able to tee off on Roethlisberger. However, the Steelers offensive line is much better than it’s been in several years and the wet surface at Heinz Field will slow the rush for both teams. Suggs and Dumervil often try to jump snap counts to utilize their speed off the edge, but hard counts and a chewed-up field will make things easier for tackles Kelvin Beachum and Marcus Gilbert.

2. With the Ravens focused on slowing Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown, rookie Martavis Bryant will beat Rashaan Melvin for a long touchdown. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees knows Brown is the Steelers’ most dangerous weapon, which will make it even more important to focus on him in coverage with Bell unavailable. The Ravens will shade safety help to where Brown lines up as much as possible, but that could leave Melvin matched up against the 6-foot-4 Bryant. Melvin has played well since being thrown into the mix last month, but this will be his first NFL game against an elite quarterback and he’ll bite on a double move by Bryant for a score.

3. Justin Forsett will be the only running back from either team to find modest success on Saturday night with 70 yards and a touchdown. Considering few have run with any success against the Ravens this season, the Steelers won’t be able to do much without Bell, who will also be missed as a receiver and in pass protection. However, Baltimore has struggled to run consistently in recent weeks and will face the league’s sixth-ranked run defense. The Ravens will run wide and use counters to get the Steelers’ front seven moving laterally — something they also want to do with play-action plays to neutralize the pass rush — and Forsett will do enough to keep the Pittsburgh defense on its toes with the rain falling.

4. Both Flacco and Roethlisberger will throw more than 35 times despite a forecast conducive to running the ball. In the old days of this rivalry, Saturday’s forecast would have meant both sides grinding it out with the rushing attack, but the run defenses are too stout and the secondaries too vulnerable for the game not to be put in the hands of these franchise quarterbacks. The Ravens will mix in more runs than the Steelers, but Roethlisberger has better weapons to throw to in the passing game. As Harbaugh pointed out earlier in the week, both Flacco and Roethlisberger are used to playing in poor weather and the rain won’t prevent them from making some plays through the air.

5. The weather will contribute to another low-scoring tight one, but the Steelers will find a way to prevail in a 20-17 final. The loss of Bell is a major blow to Pittsburgh and could be enough to tip the scale in Baltimore’s favor, but the Ravens haven’t risen to the occasion against good teams, sporting only one win all season against a team that finished with a winning record. Many are pointing to 2012 as enough reason for the Ravens to be able to make a run, but even in the midst of losing four of their last five to close that regular season, there was the Week 16 demolition of the New York Giants that flashed what the offense would be able to do in the postseason. Despite a strong fourth quarter to beat Cleveland in Week 17, the Ravens have failed to inspire on offense for almost a month now, making it too difficult to believe the unit suddenly clicks in January with a banged-up offensive line. And after an admirable run against pedestrian passing games in December, a patchwork secondary isn’t going to hold up as well against the NFL’s second-ranked passing attack. Harbaugh’s group will give a one-dimensional Pittsburgh offense everything it can handle, but Roethlisberger has played the best football of his career this season and will do just enough at home to get by the Ravens yet again in the postseason.

Comments Off on Ravens-Steelers: Five predictions for Saturday night

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Former Steeler Harrison, Amendola drawing interest from Ravens

Posted on 13 March 2013 by Luke Jones

The best rivalry in the NFL has taken some hits over the last couple years due to retirements and anticipated free-agent departures, but a piece of news on Tuesday could breathe instant life into showdowns between the Ravens and Steelers.

A source told WNST.net that the Ravens have reached out to former Steelers linebacker James Harrison and the organization is apparently interested in acquiring the services of the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Harrison was released last weekend after the Steelers and agent Bill Parise were unable to come to terms on a renegotiation. The 34-year-old was scheduled to make $6.57 million this year and was previously signed through the 2014 season.

Originally signed by Pittsburgh as a rookie free agent in 2002, Harrison spent some time with the Ravens organization — and was allocated to NFL Europe — before he was re-signed by the Steelers and eventually exploded onto the scene by becoming a starter in 2007. After making five straight Pro Bowls and accumulating 54 sacks from 2007 through 2011, Harrison was limited to just six sacks in 13 games last season.

For the right price, Harrison could be a good short-term fit to fill the situational pass rusher role previously held by Paul Kruger, who signed a $41 million contract with the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday. However, it’s fair to wonder how much production Harrison has left in the tank with his 35th birthday coming up in May.

Another name to keep an eye on is St. Louis Rams free-agent wide receiver Danny Amendola, who has reportedly drawn some interest from the Ravens in light of the trade of Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday. However, there has been some conflicting information as CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported Wednesday morning that the Ravens haven’t shown interest in the wideout.

The 5-foot-11 slot receiver made 63 receptions for 666 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games as Sam Bradford’s primary target in 2012.

Amendola was an undrafted free agent from Texas Tech in 2008 but eventually found a niche with the St. Louis Rams. Injuries have been a concern for the 27-year-old Amendola over the last two seasons as a broken arm cost him nearly the entire 2011 season and suffered a dislocated clavicle last season.

No one should confuse his ability in the slot with the physical approach of Boldin over the last three seasons, but Amendola could be a nice fit as a part of the equation to replace Boldin’s production in the Baltimore offense.

According to a Pro Football Talk report, Amendola is planning to visit two teams in free agency, but those teams have yet to be disclosed.

Comments Off on Former Steeler Harrison, Amendola drawing interest from Ravens

Baltimore Ravens at New York Giants

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

After going 92 yards, where will Flacco, Ravens go from here?

Posted on 07 November 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In the shadow of his own end zone and only 2:24 remaining at a raucous Heinz Field, Joe Flacco stood 92 yards away from the biggest regular-season win of his four-year career.

For observers who have followed Flacco and the Ravens closely over his brief NFL career, it might as well have been 92 miles with the multiple hazards of the Pittsburgh defense waiting for him across the line of scrimmage.

We’d seen this story before — several times, in fact — and the ending was all too predictable.

To everyone but Flacco and the Ravens, apparently.

Follow BaltimoreLuke on Twitter

“You don’t have anything to lose,” said Flacco in describing his mindset at the start of the drive. “You either score or you don’t score.”

On every play, Ravens supporters braced themselves for the inevitable James Harrison sack-and-strip that would end the game. They prepared themselves emotionally for the Troy Polamalu interception that would propel Steelers fans into a frenzy and send the Ravens home with another crushing defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

Instead, Flacco continued to complete passes, moving the Ravens into Pittsburgh territory. Would this be the tease of all Flacco teases, or would the Ravens actually get it done?

Despite critical drops from Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin just moments earlier, Flacco never wavered as he once again threw to Smith for the game-winning 26-yard touchdown with eight seconds remaining to beat the Steelers on their home turf. With apologies to the 40-yard drive he orchestrated in the final seconds last year against these same Steelers — without Ben Roethlisberger — in Pittsburgh, the words still feel foreign a day later.

Channeling Teddy Roosevelt after the game, coach John Harbaugh addressed the many critics who have questioned Flacco and his ability to beat the Steelers when it matters most. He repeated those same words Monday in his Owings Mills press conference.

“It’s not the critic who counts,” Harbaugh said. “It’s not the man who points out where the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. It’s the man who’s actually in the arena.”

Anyone invested in the Ravens in some form or another have tossed their hat into the ring of trying to assess who Flacco is and where he’s going.

In a year highlighted by his inconsistency, the 26-year-old provided the signature moment of his career that both validated his supporters and silenced those questioning his ability — for the time being, anyway. For as exciting as the heroics were in Pittsburgh on Sunday night — allowing the Ravens to complete only their second regular-season sweep of the Steelers — eight games remain before Flacco and the Ravens can really begin to answer the question of how far they can really go after getting past the inconquerable mountain that’s been Pittsburgh for a second time this season.

“It doesn’t mean much if you go out and don’t win your next game and then your next game and your next game,” Harbaugh said. “At the end, it’s how many wins you have compared to how somebody else has and then the tiebreakers come in at that point. You just have to keep stacking wins.”

Sunday’s win promises nothing about Flacco or the Ravens. As they now turn their attention to the Seattle Seahawks, they will be faced with the question of responding emotionally after deflating efforts in Tennessee and Jacksonville that resulted in unexpected losses earlier this season.

Opponents will care little about the accomplishment of getting past the hated Steelers. In order to truly validate themselves in the aftermath of two victories over Pittsburgh, the Ravens must continue to grow.

The 92-yard drive doesn’t transform Flacco into an elite quarterback or suddenly erase the questions about his consistency. But, it does prove the former Delaware signal-caller is capable of winning a football game in the lion’s den under the most difficult of circumstances, to borrow an expression of a former Baltimore coach.

Will those 92 yards catapult Flacco to the next tier of quarterbacks? Will the late scoring drive put the Ravens on the road to Indianapolis in February?

Or was it just one special drive and win that will only madden observers further if the Ravens and Flacco find themselves in similar positions to what we saw in Nashville and Jacksonville?

As Harbaugh likes to say, it’s a week-to-week thing.

But if Sunday did anything, it sure made the potential future for Flacco and the Ravens a lot more interesting.

If he did it once, what’s stopping him from doing it again?

 

Comments (3)

Terrell Suggs, Ben Roethlisberger

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ravens-Steelers: Five predictions for Sunday night

Posted on 05 November 2011 by Luke Jones

Little needs to be said about what’s at stake when the Ravens travel to Pittsburgh for the first time since their crushing 31-24 defeat in the divisional playoffs last January. The winner of Sunday night’s game gains control of the division — with apologies to the unproven Bengals — and emerges with the psychological upper hand should these teams meet again in January.

Sunday night marks the 32nd all-time meeting between the Ravens and Steelers in the regular season, with Pittsburgh holding an 18-13 edge. The Ravens will attempt to win their second straight regular-season game at Heinz Field and only their sixth game ever in Pittsburgh. Eight of the last 10 meetings (postseason included) between the teams have been decided by one score or less despite the Ravens’ 35-7 beating of the Steelers in Week 1.

The Ravens are 3-1 on Sunday Night Football during the John Harbaugh era, but Sunday marks the first time Baltimore has played on the road for Sunday Night Football since the game moved to NBC in 2006.

A win would give the Ravens a 6-2 start for the second consecutive year and for the third time in team history (2006 being the other).

Follow BaltimoreLuke on Twitter

Here’s what to expect when the Ravens travel to Heinz Field to take on the Steelers to complete the season series …

1. Ray Rice will gain enough yardage to offset the Steelers’ edge in the passing game. The Ravens bulled over the Pittsburgh defense to the tune of 170 rushing yards as an offensive line playing together for the first time exceeded even the most optimistic expectations in the regular-season opener. Ben Grubbs hasn’t played since then as the group has failed to reach that same level of dominance in his absence. The left guard will be a game-time decision, but it’s no coincidence Grubbs appears primed to return against the Steelers. Pittsburgh holds the edge at quarterback, but the Ravens can offset Ben Roethlisberger’s advantage over Joe Flacco by being productive enough on the ground to help control the clock and keep the Steelers’ passing game off the field. Pittsburgh’s run defense has improved, but Arizona and New England aren’t exactly dominant ground teams. Arian Foster ran for 155 yards and Maurice Jones-Drew gained 96 against the Pittsburgh defense, so it’s not out of the question for Rice to run for 80 yards on the ground — in addition to what he provides as a receiver out of the backfield.

2. The Ravens will win the turnover battle against a Pittsburgh defense that hasn’t created takeaways all season. Unsurprisingly, the teams find themselves occupying the top two spots in total defense, but a dramatic difference lies in their ability to create turnovers. Baltimore’s 16 takeaways is tied for second in the AFC while the Steelers have only forced three turnovers through their first eight games, last in the NFL. On the flip side, the Ravens and Steelers have each turned the ball over 13 times. Critics will point to Flacco’s inability to protect the football, but the Steelers’ preference to throw plays right into the hands of the Ravens, who are healthier in the secondary than they’ve been all season. If Flacco and the Ravens can make just enough plays in the passing game, it will force Roethlisberger to take more chances, increasing the likelihood of turnovers. The Ravens have the better, more opportunistic defense, and it will pay dividends on Sunday night.

3. The Steelers will miss LaMarr Woodley more than they’ll benefit from the return of James Harrison — at least in this game. After playing coy on his Twitter page earlier in the week, Harrison returns to the lineup after missing four games with a fractured orbital bone. However, Woodley’s nine sacks had him in the Defensive Player of the Year discussion before the linebacker suffered a hamstring injury last week. Harrison is as tough as they come, but the month-long layoff will leave some rust, and the Ravens can devote more attention to him without Woodley on the opposite edge. Left tackle Bryant McKinnie played his best game of the season against Harrison in the season opener, so the Ravens are hoping for a similar, motivated effort in Pittsburgh.

4. Terrell Suggs will continue to own the Steelers no matter what they try to throw at him. Max protection, tight end help, and double teams don’t matter when the Pro Bowl linebacker takes on Pittsburgh. Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called Suggs the best pass rusher he’s ever had to face, and the ninth-year linebacker has sacked Roethlisberger more often than any other defender in the NFL. After accumulating six sacks in his last two games (one of those coming last January) against Pittsburgh, it’s clear the Steelers have no answers in stopping his harassment of Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh will hope veteran Max Starks’ insertion at left tackle will have an impact after Suggs abused Jonathan Scott in Baltimore, but he’ll need as much help as possible to keep Suggs’ shadow away from the quarterback. Playing in prime time, Suggs will collect two sacks of Roethlisberger and create a critical turnover in the second half.

5. It won’t match their 35-7 showing in Baltimore, but the Ravens will sweep Pittsburgh for just the second time in the 16-year history of the series, winning a 21-20 nail-biter. While it’s true the Steelers are entering Sunday having played better football than the Ravens recently, many have been too quick to dismiss what transpired in the regular-season opener. Yes, it’s extremely unlikely the Ravens force seven turnovers again, but the Baltimore defense completely overwhelmed the Pittsburgh offense in the most recent meeting between the teams. If we’ve learned anything about the Ravens so far this season, it’s their reputation for playing to the level of their competition. There’s never any shortage of motivation and passion when they meet the hated Steelers. If — and it’s a major one — Flacco can take care of the football and make just a few big plays at opportune times (215 passing yards and a touchdown pass), the defense will take care of the rest by pressuring Roethlisberger and creating a critical turnover that swings the game in the Ravens’ favor.

Comments (5)

james harrison1

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ravens rule out Evans, Ellerbe; Steelers’ Harrison likely to play

Posted on 04 November 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After many questions on the injury report for both the Ravens and the Steelers, Friday brought some clarity to the anticipated rematch between the hated rivals set to take place on Sunday night.

After practicing on a limited basis all week, Ben Grubbs was listed as questionable in what appears to be his best chance to return since the left guard last played in the regular-season opener against Pittsburgh. The Ravens would certainly like to see Grubbs’ return to reunite their starting offensive line for the first time since Sept. 11.

“I would like to say I’m a game-time decision, but it’s up to the coaches — whatever they decide,” Grubbs said. “I know that they want me out there and I want to be out there and the team wants me out there, but the last thing I want to do is hurt the team. [Andre Gurode] has been doing a great job, and we’ve been winning with him. I guess we’ll know come Sunday at 8:30.”

Follow BaltimoreLuke on Twitter

After practicing for the first time all week on Friday, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was listed as probable after working a limited basis. Ngata has been dealing with a thigh injury sustained in the Ravens’ 30-27 win over Arizona last week.

While there’s little doubt on the Pro Bowl defensive lineman’s status for the battle of Heinz Field, coach John Harbaugh still expressed concern in his comments to the media following Friday’s practice.

“I’ll feel good about it on Sunday if he’s playing,” Harbaugh said. “That’s when you’ll feel good about it. He did more today; it’s nothing real serious or anything like that. But, he’s fighting through it. It’s just kind of a mid-season type deal.”

Not surprisingly, the Ravens ruled out wide receiver Lee Evans and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe after neither practiced all week. Return specialist David Reed, running back Anthony Allen, and cornerback Chykie Brown are all listed as questionable.

Plenty of mystery has surrounded three of Pittsburgh’s starting linebackers this week, but the Steelers officially ruled out LaMarr Woodley with a hamstring injury. However, despite saying on his Twitter page he would not play earlier in the week, former AP Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison is listed as probable. He has not played since fracturing the orbital bone surrounding his right eye on Oct. 2.

Linebacker James Farrior and veteran receiver Hines Ward are both listed as questionable for Sunday night.

BALTIMORE
OUT – LB Dannell Ellerbe (thigh), WR Lee Evans (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE – RB Anthony Allen (thigh), CB Chykie Brown (knee), G Ben Grubbs (toe), WR/RS David Reed (knee)
PROBABLE – C Matt Birk (neck), CB Danny Gorrer (thigh), DT Haloti Ngata (thigh)

PITTSBURGH
OUT – G Doug Legursky (toe), WR Emmanuel Sanders (knee), LB LaMarr Woodley (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE – LB James Farrior (calf), P Daniel Sepulveda (R knee), WR Hines Ward (ankle)
PROBABLE – LB James Harrison (eye), T Jonathan Scott (ankle)

Comments Off on Ravens rule out Evans, Ellerbe; Steelers’ Harrison likely to play

Follow BaltimoreLuke on Twitter

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ngata misses practice, Grubbs limited on Wednesday

Posted on 02 November 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens received potentially good news on Wednesday as left guard Ben Grubbs returned to the practice field for the first time since mid-October as he hopes to return to game action for the first time since the season opener.

Grubbs practiced on a limited basis on Wednesday, but defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was noticeably absent from the workout and did not participate due to a thigh injury. Ngata appeared to get banged up in Sunday’s win over the Cardinals, but the Pro Bowl defensive lineman returned to action quickly without further incident.

Follow BaltimoreLuke on Twitter

Despite optimism created by Grubbs returning to the practice field, there was no change to wide receiver Lee Evans’ status as the 30-year-old did not practice on Wednesday. Evans has not practiced since the week following the bye when he returned on a limited basis.

Kick returner David Reed did not practice on Wednesday and was listed as having a knee injury.

In addition to Grubbs, cornerback Danny Gorrer and running back Anthony Allen returned to the practice field after both players missed Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. The rookie Allen has missed the last two games with a thigh injury.

The Steelers saw their three injured linebackers — James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, and James Farrior — practice on a limited basis despite major doubts whether any of the three will be available against the Ravens. Veteran receiver Hines Ward was also listed as a limited participant several hours after Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs appealed directly to him about returning to the field for Sunday night’s game.

Speedy wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders did not practice as he battles a knee injury.

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE – LB Dannell Ellerbe (thigh), WR Lee Evans (ankle), DT Haloti Ngata (thigh), WR/RS David Reed (knee)
LIMITED – RB Anthony Allen (thigh), C Matt Birk (neck), CB Danny Gorrer (thigh), G Ben Grubbs (toe)

PITTSBURGH
DID NOT PARTICIPATE – G Doug Legursky (toe), WR Emmanuel Sanders (knee)
LIMITED – LB James Farrior (calf), LB James Harrison (eye), T Jonathan Scott (ankle), WR Hines Ward (ankle), LB LaMarr Woodley (hamstring)

Comments Off on Ngata misses practice, Grubbs limited on Wednesday

Follow BaltimoreLuke on Twitter

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Pittsburgh playing coy with injured linebackers for Ravens game?

Posted on 01 November 2011 by Luke Jones

Having dealt with their own barrage of injuries through the first seven games of the season, the Ravens won’t take any pity on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ health woes at the linebacker position.

But they will likely be left guessing over who exactly will be on the field when they travel to Heinz Field to take on their bitter rival Sunday night for part two of the 2011 edition of the best rivalry in the NFL.

The Steelers’ second-ranked defense — ranking only behind Baltimore — has been decimated by injuries to its talented group of linebackers.

Follow BaltimoreLuke on Twitter

Four-time Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison has missed the last four games with an orbital bone fracture in his face while inside linebacker James Farrior missed Sunday’s game against New England with a calf injury. A third starting linebacker fell during the Steelers’ impressive win over the Patriots when LaMarr Woodley sustained a hamstring injury in the third quarter of their 25-17 win over the Patriots.

A Tuesday report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said Woodley will not play against the Ravens and could possibly be out until after the Steelers’ bye on Nov. 20. However, Woodley said on his Twitter page he’s not willing to throw in the towel for the Baltimore game just yet.

“Everybody counting me out … don’t count me out yet,” said Woodley, whose nine sacks have helped fill the void left by Harrison in the Pittsburgh pass rush. “Big game on Sunday.”

The information on Harrison has been even more conflicting, with his agent declaring him ready to return against the Ravens before the 33-year-old linebacker said otherwise on his Twitter page. Harrison has been cleared to practice, but the veteran said he will not be able to play on Sunday night.

“He has been cleared to practice and that is where we are,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday. “We will reevaluate the situation at some point later in the week and let that be our guide in terms of potential participation. But, right now, I just want to be clear that he has been cleared to practice.”

Tomlin also said Farrior will practice on a limited basis on Wednesday despite the Post-Gazette reporting the 36-year-old would miss a month with the calf injury.

Though it appears likely that all three will be unavailable against the Ravens, the gamesmanship already being exhibited will force the Baltimore offensive line to prepare for the Steeelers’ pair of dominating pass rushers in Harrison and Woodley. In the decisive 35-7 win over the Steelers in the season opener on Sept. 11, the Ravens limited Pittsburgh to one sack and ran for 170 yards in the blowout.

With Harrison being out for the last month, the Steelers have been forced to shift inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons to the outside. Veteran Larry Foote and rookie Chris Carter have played larger roles than anticipated with Farrior and Woodley now sidelined with ailments.

Next page >>>

Comments Off on Pittsburgh playing coy with injured linebackers for Ravens game?

Tags: , , , , , ,

McKinnie catching up, trimming down in preparation for Steelers

Posted on 09 September 2011 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Plenty has been written and discussed about the Ravens’ new left tackle Bryant McKinnie.

His addition looks great on paper, inserting the former Pro Bowler on the left side and sliding third-year tackle Michael Oher to the right where he thrived in 2009.

McKinnie has yet to play a snap in live-game action for the Ravens, making Sunday’s debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers all the more nerve-wracking for everyone involved. Getting reps in practice is well and good — even against the bullish Baltimore defense — but trying to keep the likes of LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison away from quarterback Joe Flacco is an altogether different challenge.

A little over a month ago, McKinnie was dismissed by the Minnesota Vikings after nine seasons as a result of his weight ballooning to a near 400 pounds and team doctors having concerns with his cholesterol level. Since signing with the Ravens on Aug. 23 and reporting at a weight of 370 pounds, the offensive tackle had shed 10 more pounds after two weeks of practicing.

“I feel pretty good,” said McKinnie, who did not play in the preseason and hasn’t taken part in a game since last January. “I’m just looking forward to going out here and finally playing in a game. I’m just real anxious to go out here and just play.”

Sunday’s temperatures are not expected to be as high as they can be in September home games, but McKinnie’s conditioning will be monitored closely by everyone wanting to see the Ravens snap their seven-game losing streak to the Steelers when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is playing in the game. The former Outland Trophy winner at the University of Miami says he’s also gained more comfort in grasping offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s system after a shaky start in practices.

“I think I’m pretty comfortable. At the beginning — when you’re new to something — it seems like everything is moving fast, but now everything is starting to slow down because I’m starting to get familiar with what’s going on. I’m going to just take this game, go out there and give the best I can give, and then just keep rolling for the next two or three weeks and then I should be back where I left off.”

Hopefully McKinnie’s best is good enough against the Steelers, who the Ravens desperately want to beat in order to gain the early advantage in what figures to be a two-team race in the AFC North. A home loss to the Steelers would put the Ravens in a sizable hole immediately, making the Nov. 6 rematch in Pittsburgh all the more critical if Baltimore wants to win the division to earn a home playoff game for the first time since 2006.

McKinnie will figure heavily into the Ravens’ fate, both Sunday and throughout the season despite his checkered past that includes run-ins with the law and an embarrassing dismissal from the 2009 Pro Bowl for skipping too many practices. The team can only hope McKinnie backs up the many encouraging words he’s spoken since arriving in Owings Mills.

Fortunately, the man to McKinnie’s right on the offensive line, Ben Grubbs, is one of the better guards in the AFC. With linemen needing to communicate while dealing with crowd noise and adjustments at the line of scrimmage, Grubbs has assisted in bringing the former Viking up to speed quickly with new terminology.

“He’s been pretty helpful, because he communicates well, and we’re able to discuss what’s going on with the defense,” McKinnie said. “It kind of gives me a better idea of what I need to do.”

NOTES: Tony Corrente’s crew will officiate Sunday’s game in Baltimore. … The Ravens will wear their white jerseys, forcing Pittsburgh to don black with temperatures expected to be in the low 80s. There is a 30 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms, according to Weather.com. … The offense will be introduced before the game as the Ravens will forgo announcing Ray Lewis and the starting defense prior to taking on their hated rivals.

Comments Off on McKinnie catching up, trimming down in preparation for Steelers