Tale Of The Tape: Pittsburgh Steelers At Baltimore Ravens
- QuarterbackThe Steelers have not enjoyed a good year, but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been healthy this year and he is capable of some solid performances. He led the Steelers to an impressive come-from-behind victory in Week 11 against the Lions, and head coach Mike Tomlin will not hesitate to let Roethlisberger carry the team as far as he can.The Ravens became Joe Flacco’s team last year and he responded with a string of memorable performances that led Baltimore to the Super Bowl title. This year, Flacco has had to take the leadership mantle from the retired Ray Lewis and the departed Ed Reed. It has not worked out as well. The Ravens are missing that ingredient that allows them to pull out key games.
- OffenseThe Steelers would like to run the ball with rookie Le’Veon Bell, but he has had a difficult time establishing consistency. That puts much more of a burden on the passing game than Tomlin would like. Antonio Brown is a legitimate big-play threat who can stretch the field and make the tough catch. Jerricho Cotchery has become a solid red zone weapon while Heath Miller can make third-down plays.The Ravens hope that Ray Rice bottomed out earlier this year and that his game is on the upswing. Going into the season, Rice appeared to be a top-three running back, but his poor performances have outnumbered his good ones dramatically. Torrey Smith is a big-play maker who wants the ball with the game on the line, while tight end Dallas Clark is still a hard-nosed competitor.
- DefenseThe Steelers have a slightly better than average defense from a statistical point of view, but they don’t appear to have enough speed to keep up with fast, decisive offensive attacks. The Steelers get a decent pass rush from LaMarr Woodley, but he can’t do it by himself. The coverage by the secondary has been poor much of the year.The Ravens still have some talent on defense, but they have not played consistently enough to win games and stay in contention. Terrell Suggs is still a game-changing pass rusher, but the Ravens don’t create enough turnovers. Linebacker Daryl Smith has the athletic ability to make plays all over the field, but the Ravens have few players outside Suggs who can intimidate opponents.
- Special TeamsThe Steelers do a decent job in their punt and kickoff coverage, while Brown is a legitimate threat to return any punt a long way. Shaun Suisham has proven to be a dependable placekicker, while but Matt McBriar is an ordinary punter.The Ravens have had solid special teams for years and this season is no different. Their coverage is solid and they can get big plays from speedy Tandon Doss on the punt return and Jacoby Jones on kickoff returns. Justin Tucker is a dependable placekicker with excellent leg strength.
Neither team has been at their best this season, but it may be hard for the Steelers to beat the Ravens on their home field, especially after Pittsburgh won the first meeting between these two rivals at home. The Ravens ride their home field to victory in this game.