Pittsburgh Steelers: Now The Baltimore Ravens


It’s a short week for the Pittsburgh Steelers as they host the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night in the weekly nationally televised game.

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Baltimore heads to Heinz Field embarrassed with an 0-3 start to the season and the Steelers must face their most heated rivals without the services of Ben Roethlisberger. When these two teams clash, it’s almost always a classic, hard-hitting, close affair.

This season’s first of two matchups will have a different look from the past three or four meetings. Big Ben won’t play. Terrell Suggs is also hurt but unlike Roethlisberger is out for the season. There is no Ray Rice, Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, or Brett Kiesel.

Michael Vick becomes the man of the moment on Thursday despite being surrounded by multiple weapons. It’s a question mark that will be answered once the opening kickoff is made whether Vick can succeed and carry the Steelers with so many dangerous toys around him.

For the Baltimore Ravens, this game has to be considered a must win. A loss would drop them to 0-4 on the season with a winnable game against Cleveland next weekend and then a road trip two San Francisco. It’s quite possible that by losing to Pittsburgh they could find themselves looking at a record of 1-5 in three weeks.

When the Ravens have the ball: The key weapon for Baltimore is of course Joe Flacco whose primary target is the veteran Steve Smith Sr.

The man just keeps producing in his 15th NFL season hauling in 13 catches last Sunday for 186 yards. On the ground, Justin Forsett has had some solid games against the Steelers so stopping him will be key.

Expect the Ravens to try to use a short passing game much like New England did to try to defeat Pittsburgh with an occasional attempt to go long to Smith. Pittsburgh’s rush defense has been a bit suspect so Baltimore will try to capitalize on that.

For the Steelers defense, they have had huge success in pressuring Joe Flacco so expect a lot of blitzes and trying to get Flacco out of the pocket. Pittsburgh’s defense is much faster these days so that will aid in shutting the Baltimore offense down.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers /

Pittsburgh Steelers

When the Steelers have the ball: Hang on to your hats Steelers fans…this will be an interesting ride with Michael Vick for sure. Can he carry the team? Steelers Nation certainly hopes so. One thing is for sure. Vick is certainly more athletic than Big Ben. However, he lags way behind Roethlisberger in leadership skills and command of an offense. But Vick also has a powerful arm and even at age 35 is still dangerous on his feet.

What Mike Tomlin does not want to see from Michael Vick are mistakes such as fumbles or worse…interceptions. But with so many weapons around him, the Steelers offense is built for success. It would be hard not to produce at all for Vick given what he has to work with.

The Baltimore Ravens defense is not what it used to be. Losing Suggs on defense is comparable to losing Roethlisberger on the Steelers’ offense. C.J. Mosley is the star on the Ravens’s defense now and had Roethlisberger been available it is quite possible he would have been able to shred the Baltimore secondary. Instead, Michael Vick will be under center and it is on his shoulders to make the offense go.

Intangibles: Playing in front of their fan base at Heinz Field is always advantage for Pittsburgh especially with this year’s addition of more seats meaning more fans. Those numbers mean more noise.

These two teams have admitted they don’t like each other and the fan bases probably have more hate for each other than the teams. Steelers fans love to see their team beat Baltimore but they know this game is always a battle.

Prediction: Baltimore has their backs to the wall…BIG TIME. Desperate teams are dangerous. They are in must win mode and that frightens Steelers fans. The gut reaction here says the Steelers could lose and might. The logical pick is the Steelers. Pittsburgh 23 Baltimore 21.

Next: Steelers: Week Three Grades Vs. Rams

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