Keys to the Game: Baltimore @ Pittsburgh

Harbaugh vs. Tomlin

 

Week 11: Baltimore Ravens v. Pittsburgh Steelers

Sunday November 17, 2012 8:00 PM

Line: Ravens -6 O/U 48

 

Do you really care? Does it really matter? Will anyone notice that Ben Roethlisberger is not on the field? Those are the questions Ravens fans have been struggling with the past six days as it relates to absence of Broken Down Ben. It is Ravens/Steelers week after all. People are buzzing all over town in anticipation of this week’s game. In football parlance, it’s the closest thing to Christmas Thanksgiving and New Years all rolled into one.  Will the Ravens bring the hurt, or will the wilt with the pressure to execute mounting with each passing minute? With that in mind, let’s take a look at this week’s keys to the game.

 

Baltimore Gridiron Report Keys to the Game

1st and Ten: For God’s Sake, It’s Byron “Old Man” Leftwich.

OK seriously? I’m going to lay some historical perspective on the unwashed masses. In 2003 the Ravens highly coveted a young QB coming out of Marshall University. He was a local product from just down the road in DC and he fit everything the Ravens were looking to do on offense behind the monstrous and talented Jamal Lewis. Come draft day the Ravens traded up with the Minnesota Vikings to nab him in the 7th slot. Well unbeknownst to the Ravens, the Jaguars, who also coveted the young prospect, had concocted a scheme. They blew up the phone line at the league office by bombarding it with telephone calls. This prevented the Ravens from calling in their selection and allowed the Jaguars to snake the draft pick away stealing Byron Leftwhich, and leaving the Ravens with Kyle Boller.

Here we are ten years later and once again the Ravens are coming face to face with their old prospect. But as for Sunday let’s think about this for a second. Leftwhich has not started a game since 2008, and he has not won a game since 2006. To win this game the Ravens have to do one thing and one thing only. Get after his old ass and bring him down. He’s not going to run, he’s a pocket passer, and his arm is, how we say, limper than over boiled noodles. Seriously, it’s Byron Leftwich.

2nd and Long: Strike Hard, Strike First, No Mercy

Flacco and company have to come out guns blazing and put ‘em in a body bag. Think back two seasons ago when the Ravens faced off against the Steelers in week one and absolutely torched their asses by coming out swinging. That’s what we need again this week. If you let the Steelers hang around, they might think they can actually win this game. If you knock them as hard as you can in the mouth from the first swing, they’ll be on the ropes for 60 minutes.

Get after the ball on offense and put this game away early.

3rd and Short: Focus on the Run Stop

Reports out of ESPN are that Rashad Mendenhall will be active and playing for the Steelers this weekend. That’s arguably are far bigger gain than the loss of Broken Down Ben. Mendenhall by himself may overly scary, but he’s shown that he can be a top flight RB and now he’s got legitimate support behind him in Issac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer. Both RB’s have starting experience and have the combined talent to make the Ravens suffer.

I’m not saying any of the three is good enough to beat us on their own, but I’m saying that with three capable running backs the Steelers can throw mixed up looks at the Ravens and will be fresh throughout the game. Beware the run, because it is quite possibly the only hope the Steelers have of walking away with this game.

4th Down: Turnover Battle

Turnovers. They are the key to this game more so than any other. Every time these two teams square off it always comes down to who had the fewest mistakes with the ball. I know that sounds cliqued and like everything else anyone tells you about this game, but it’s the honest truth. Sometimes a spade is a spade and a cigar is just a smoke. You have to hold onto, and protect, the football in this game if you’re going to win. Batch may be ancient and rusty, the running backs may be hobbled and broken, but it’s still the Steelers, and if you give them a short field to work on time in and time out, they will eventually wear you down and snake away the victory.

No turnovers. Period. Finite.

Extra Point: Defense. Defense. Defense.

The Ravens have got to man up, sack up, and get their defense back on track to win on Sunday night. Despite having their own rash of injuries across the secondary, the Steelers will always bring their A game when playing the Ravens and for some reason find an extra gear when Broken Down Ben is on the sidelines. This means a knockdown, drag out, low scoring street fight. The Ravens defense needs the offense to have a big day but they cannot count on it, so they have to get the job done and keep Leftwhich and his crew off the field and out of the endzone. The Steelers aren’t going to just roll over, and neither should the Ravens.

BGR Predictions

 

Jonathon Scruggs (6-2)

There is no sense in predicting this game because it never plays out like you’d expect it. The Ravens however, look prime set for another victory heading into San Diego, and I think they do just enough to squeak it out.

Ravens 23 — Steelers 16

Matt Jergensen (7-1)

A Roethlisberger-less Steelers is huge for tonight’s game. This will be an old school style matchup which means somewhat low scoring. A win here means more for Pittsburgh so I expect some desperation from them. It should be interesting and as long as Flacco plays well Baltimore wins.

Ravens 20 – Steelers 14

Gene Winner (7-1)

Let’s face it the Ravens catch a break with Big Ben out. Still, these teams  played tough when they match up and it will be close for a while. This rivalry game just doesn’t seem quite the same with Big Ben and 52 not in it.

Ravens 24 – Steelers 13

 Ben Zinman (7-1)

Steelers win on a last second field goal.

Steelers 24 – Ravens 21

 

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