Pittsburgh Steelers: Troy Polamalu And James Harrison Keys To Defeat Baltimore Ravens?


Saturday’s wildcard playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens sets up the sixth time the Steelers have faced an AFC North opponent in the playoffs. Three of those times have come against Baltimore. The Steelers are a perfect 5-0 in those games.

Two players who have been a part of those playoff wins, James Harrison and Troy Polamalu, may again have the last word in keeping that streak alive tonight at Heinz Field.


Joe Flacco is undeniably great at one thing, throwing the deep ball. He’s been dreaming of bombs to Steve Smith Sr. and Torrey Smith over-top the Steelers secondary all week…a familiar scene for Steeler fans this season.

We have also watched the flaming fall of Flacco LIVE when Heinz Field, the place both Flacco and John Harbaugh said they, “felt comfortable playing in”, became a hot seat…and a hot plate of eat your words  in Week 9. The Steelers defense fired four sacks, forced an interception and fumble, and hit Flacco 10 times. Flacco admittedly, “kinda lost it”. Yep, 42-21.

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This time around Flacco arrives positioned behind a rag-a-tag offensive line decimated by injuries. His starting left tackle, Eugene Monroe, has been declared out (ankle). Rookies John Urschel and James Hurst will be lined up opposite Steelers sack leader, Cam Heyward, and the #1 Ravens Killer EVER, James Harrison. He had two sacks and four hits on Flacco in Week 9.

In that game, Heyward did everything but throw Keisel through the air to open lanes for Harrison and linebacker Lawrence Timmons to get to Flacco.  On the outside looking in, Saturday doesn’t end well for Joe Flacco.

The Ravens will pound back with their own reclamation project, running back Justin Forsett. Forsett has been great for the Birds of Baltimore. His NFL 4th best, 1,266 running yards, kept the Ravens in the playoff race. He only had 38-yards in the previous trip to Pittsburgh but he has gone over 100 yards in four out of his last seven games.

He had 119 yards in Cleveland last Sunday. If the weather turns rainy and wintery, expect to see a lot of Forsett. Rookie defensive end Stephon Tuitt and, depending on the scheme, nose tackle Steve McLendon will be key to taking him away from Flacco’ arsenal. Then all Flacco has left in his pocket is a quick pass game.


A healthy Troy Polamalu could be harmful for Flacco’s last resort. Out of the Steelers “middle fielders”, Polamalu has been one of the best at snagging interceptions. One of his best games this season was the Week 2 trip to Baltimore. He had eight tackles including a signature behind-the-line tackle, and long before he injured his knee.

Head Coach Mike Tomlin wisely sat Polamalu the past few weeks, allowing his best secondary player to heal up before the playoffs. And while everyone is throwing Polamalu a retirement party, Polamalu will be adding to his legend with another all-star performance against Baltimore.

The Steelers needed a stifling defense and a red hot offense to beat the Ravens in Week 9. With MVP Le’Veon Bell out and poor weather conditions complicating the elements, the Steelers defense takes center stage for Wildcard Weekend.

Steelers over Ravens 27-19

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