In the lead up to this week’s matchup against the Steelers, I sat down to talk with Steelers Gab editor Matt Loede and get his opinion on this Sunday’s game.
1. Ben Roethlesberger has not looked the same this year. He has had bad offensive lines in the past and was able to make plays, but this year he looks a little sluggish. What do you think is behind this?
I think the fact he’s already been hit so many times could have caused him to have happy feet at times in the pocket. Not only that, but I think he’s at times trying too hard to make plays, and with that has come the mistakes. Last week vs the Jets, he finally played within himself maybe for the first time all season, and the results were easily the best game of the year for Ben and the O-line. I think if the line can just give him some time, he’ll be just fine.
2. Similar to the Ravens, the Steelers defense lost some key contributors like Casey Hampton and James Harrison, how has this aging defense held up without their leaders from the past decade?
The defense finally showed up against Geno Smith and the Jets, but the reason this D has struggled is two major issues – missed tackles and allowing too many big plays. Against the Vikings they gave up four plays of 50 yards or more, and they seemed on every one to miss at least one tackle. While they are missing some of that veteran leadership, there’s enough talent on this defense to get the job done, and they will try to follow up that good outing vs the Jets against the Ravens Sunday.
3. How do you expect the Steelers offense to handle the Ravens menacing pass rush?
Much like they did against the Jets, they will go with a quick, short passing game that will not allow Baltimore to get to Ben all that much. They seemed to make sure to not let Ben take too many 7 step drops, and instead they went with a number of check downs, and threw to the backs and TE Heath Miller more often. They also had their best game on the O-line, and I think that Kelvin Beachum stepping in for an injured Levi Brown gave the O-line some attitude and fire they hadn’t had before this season.
4. Troy Polamalu seems to have rebounded and returned to form recently. What do you attribute that to?
Health. He really wasn’t healthy for most of 2012, and finally he seems to be like his old self, flying around and making plays like the player that won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award back in the Super Bowl season of 2010. He’s the main playmaker on that defense, and if he can stay healthy, I think he will continue to have a huge season in which he will make life tough for opposing QB’s and wide outs on the other side of the field.
5. FInal score prediction and why.
The Steelers finally showed up in New York vs the Jets, and I think that momentum will carry over against the always tough Ravens. I expect both teams to throw and throw a lot, but not making mistakes and being able to avoid the rush for both sides is going to be the biggest thing on each side of the ball. I like the Steelers at home, I think the Ravens just don’t look like the same team that won the title last February. Look for a physical slugfest that sees the Steelers three points better at