Pittsburgh Steelers-Baltimore Ravens Preview & Prediction

The Wild-Card round has come and gone, and eight teams are now preparing for the next step of their post-season. The Wild-Card round showed us this year’s Cindarella team, the Seattle Seahawks, who absolutely handled the New Orleans Saints (last year’s Super Bowl Champions) via Matt Hasselbeck’s arm.

And thanks to divine intervention, the New York Jets beat the Indianapolis Colts by a single point on a last second field goal, an event that sends the Jets to play at New England against the fire hot Patriots. The Ravens on the other hand, stomped on the Kansas City Chiefs as a practice round of sorts for their next opponent – the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Why divine intervention you say? Well, simply because of the vengeance factor that comes into play should both the Patriots and Steelers win in the divisional round. That heavy weight matchup is one that is only suitable for a snowy AFC Championship Game, but, I digress. Let’s not count our titles until they’re won.

In Joe Flacco’s post-game press conference after beating up on what was apparently the Chiefs’ practice squad, he said that he was looking forward to playing the Steelers, and that it would be ‘fun’.

Fun? For some reason as soon as I heard that, my mind exploded with a million different thoughts, but the one that stuck was perfectly summed up by the great Denzel Washington in the all time great movie – Remember The Titans, you can view it below:

As Denzel says, the Steelers will be showing Joe Flacco just how much ‘Fun” he will be having.

Let’s all be honest here, this is the same game that they played weeks ago, it’s the same game they’ve played for the past three years. Nothing has changed. The regular season meetings between them might as well be playoff games, because more often than not, they ultimately carry playoff implications.

Both teams are going to try to run the ball, both teams are going to eventually realize that that’s not going to work out so well, with the Steelers having the slight advantage. Which is truly a testament to the Steelers defense, because the Ravens offensive line is better than the Steelers at every position except for center, where Maurkice Pouncey not only met expectations, but exceeded them immensely.

When the run starts to falter, look for the play-action pass. This is where the Steelers can be absolutely deadly, especially with the art in which Roethlisberger carries out the fake combined with Mike Wallace (who is preparing for his first post-season game ever) on the outside.

Branching off of the play-action, there is the standard passing game, which I’m going to call a draw. The Ravens may have the slightly better receiving corps, but the Steelers have the better quarterback. The Steelers absolutely have to know where Derrick Mason is on third downs, because he’s nearly a carbon copy of their own Hines Ward.

Add to that the fact that Ray Rice is a mismatch in the Ravens passing game, the only linebacker the Steelers have that has a slight chance against him is Lawrence Timmons, and he’s going to be looking to be in Joe Flacco’s face as much or more than James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.

The last time Troy Polamalu played the Ravens he sacked Flacco, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Woodley and then went to the sidelines to watch the offense march down the field and score on an amazing Isaac Redman catch and run where he broke at least three tackles. Polamalu’s going to look to be the game changer on the Steelers side, while his Ravens counterpart – Ed Reed is going to look to do the same.

I should probably preface this by saying that while this is a Steelers blog, you won’t find much trashing on the Ravens from me, simply because I respect them immensely, because in all reality, the Steelers and Ravens are built from the same mold. If you can’t respect your fiercest rivalry, then there’s something about the game that you’re missing.

Ed Reed is the heart and soul of the Raven’s playoff run thus far, he’s playing emotional football (earning a Chiefs game ball) while dealing with the disappearance of his younger brother, Brian Reed, who jumped into the Mississippi River while eluding law enforcement. I have nothing but respect for Ed Reed and what he’s accomplished, and I wish he and his family the best no matter what happens with his brother and no matter what happens during the game.

That being said, if Reed is not 100% focused on the Pittsburgh Steelers, he is no longer the asset that he could be. This is the reason that Ben Roethlisberger has to test him early and see how much of his head is in the game. I’m not expecting much in that area, but anything that gives the Steelers an edge has to be taken into consideration.

Reading through some early press releases, apparently Ravens coach John Harbaugh (who played at Miami of Ohio like Roethlisberger) said that he was glad that the Ravens broke Roethlisberger’s nose.

Wait. What?

He’s legitimately happy that Roethlisberger got his nose broken? That’s kind of, uh, classless. That, or he’s trying to focus on the good things that happened for the Ravens in that second meeting.

My prediction: Steelers 20 Ravens 17

Notes & Tidbits

  • Joe Flacco is 0-5 against Ben Roethlisberger
  • Roethlisberger is undefeated against the Ravens when he plays the whole game.
  • Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace have hooked up for touchdowns of 40+ yards 8 times – A Steelers record.
  • The Ravens have never beat the Steelers in the post-season.

Don’t forget to follow Steel Hurtin’ on both Facebook and Twitter. And be sure to watch for play by play during the game via Twitter.


~ by Steel Hurtin on January 11, 2011.

4 Responses to “Pittsburgh Steelers-Baltimore Ravens Preview & Prediction”

  1. I wanna see Derrick Mason get a ring before he retires, so I’m rooting for the Ravens. Roethlisberger is a bitch in the playoffs though.

    • Yeah, and Flacco’s not exactly Roethlisberger’s kryptonite either, lol. I’ve got a lot of love for Mason too, but I’d rather he got that ring in a year where the Steelers weren’t playing them. lol

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