3-0 is not good enough now as the Steelers look to open 4-0 and knock off the division rival in the process of heading off into the bye week and getting back starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the rest of the season. Every game with Baltimore is a war and below are what we deem to be 7 keys to the game for the Steelers to beat the Ravens in week 4.
Keep Rice One Dimensional – Ravens running back Ray Rice can take over a game if you let. In his 3 games against the Steelers, Rice has 310 all purpose yards and a few key 1st down conversions. He can run between the tackles as well as outside on the corners if he is forced to. He also has become one of the most accomplished pass catchers out of the backfield in the NFL and caught 78 balls last year alone. The Steelers need to devote a spy on him at linebacker all day and keep him away from the big play. He must be forced to earn ever yard on a gimp knee and do so on the ground and not easy swing passes out of the backfield. Ih he is held to under 100 all purpose yards, the Steelers defense has done their job.
Pouncey Measuring Stick – Rookie center Maurkice Pouncey has played like a veteran through his first 3 starts in the NFL. The tape on him thus far is amazing to watch. On Sunday Pouncey gets the ultimate test as he will likely face a rotation of Haloti Ngata and Kelly Gregg at nose tackle for the Ravens. Pouncey will get some help from Chris Kemoeatu and Doug Legursky through-out the afternoon, but there will be several times he will be matched up one on one. This will likely be the hardest test Pouncey faces all year and could set the tone for many games to come as well against Baltimore.
Keep Flacco Flaccid At Heinz – Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has not had a great time of it at Heinz Field as in three career games at Heinz Field, Flacco has thrown four interceptions and completed just 48.8 percent of his throws. He also has been sacked 12 times. In those games, the Steelers have done well at pressuring and hurrying Flacco into some bad decisions. Linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley need to be in his face all day and the rotation of the 6 players on the Steelers defensive line need to get a good push up the middle and force the Ravens to keep a tight end and or running back in to help the blocking and not out in their pass patterns.
Boldin Versus Browns Lesson – Anquan Boldin blistered the Cleveland Browns in Week 3 and the Steelers had a ton of tape to learn from because of it. The Steelers defensive backs have done a great job in the first 3 games in limiting the yards after catch and not giving up the big play in addition. Boldin can not be allowed to take the top off deep and must be limited to earning his keep underneath. All three of Boldin\’s touchdowns against the Browns came with him lined up on the right side, this means Bryant McFadden will luikely draw most of the coverage in man defenses on Sunday.
Continue The Batch Slapping – At 3-0 the Steelers have nothing to lose by letting Charlie Batch continue to use his arm. A few offensive touchdowns can go a long way in winning this game and Charlie must be allowed to attack Ravens secondary that has over achieved thus far in 2010. Making the Ravens respect the pass will help open up the running game for Rashard Mendenhall. The Steelers can not expect to just run, run, run all day. Batch is capable and it will not take a 300 yard effort to do major damage to the Ravens.
Keep Ray Ray Busy – The more linebacker Ray Lewis has his hands full fighting through blocks and covering tight end Heath Miller inside, the less damage he can do in the backfield and at the line of scrimmage. On blitzes, Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman must all be up for offering help. All 3 are pretty accomplished at blitz pickup, but Lewis is a different animal when he comes. He can not be allowed to control the game and dictate what happens.
More Pony Rides – The pony backfield consisting of Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman presents so many opportunities on offense that have not even been scratched by offensive coordinator Bruce Arians yet. Both backs can catch out of the backfield as well as power run inside and outside. The Steelers really could keep the Ravens defense on their heels if they use it more on Sunday with one a nd two tight end formations. We will be charting this for sure.
Steelers Ravens Game Prediction – The 2010 Steelers are playing with a huge disrespect chip on their shoulder thus far. The defense is playing amazing and doing so with a heavy rotation of bodies in the process. Despite the several injuries this year, the next man up has withheld the standard. The offense is coming off their best showing in the young season and Charlie Batch has shown he can still get it done if protected. If the Steelers offense can put 20 plus points up, I think it will be enough. This one will come down to the final few minutes and I think Chuck rides off into the sunset as the hero who saved the day with a late TD drive.
Final Score: Steelers 20 Ravens 13