Tale of the tape
Week 11: Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. Baltimore Ravens
|Ben Roethlisberger’s shoulder injury is a huge blow to the Steelers. He was forced out of the game when he landed on his throwing arm after taking a big hit in the Week 10 Monday night overtime win over the Chiefs and it’s unlikely that he will play. Backup Byron Leftwich is competent, but he lacks a quick release and his stiff-armed passes are easy to read for opposing defenses.||Quarterback||Joe Flacco is one of the better quarterbacks in the league. After a couple of unimpressive games in a row, Flacco was back in form against the Raiders as Baltimore rolled to a 55-20 victory. Flacco has size, strength and the ability to throw an excellent deep ball. He has improved quite a bit at reading defenses and that makes him a much-improved quarterback.|
|Mike Tomlin will try to gash the Baltimore defense with his running game. The Steelers have been successful with Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman running the ball. They could have Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) back for this game, and his return would give the Steelers a lift. Mike Wallace is a speedy receiver who has hurt the Ravens in the past.||Offense||The Ravens were explosive in their win over the Raiders, but they know they will get challenged by the physical Steelers defense. As usual, they will hand the ball to Ray Rice, who may be the most versatile running back in the league because he’s such a good receiver. Torrey Smith has become one of the best deep threats in the league and has caught 7 TD passes.|
|The Steelers will make the Ravens earn every yard they get. They have the top-rated defense in the league even though strong safety Troy Polamalu (calf) has not played since Week Five. Inside linebacker has 64 tackles, 3.0 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries. Free safety Ryan Clark has 62 tackles and is a nasty hitter.||Defense||The Ravens are not the defensive team they have been in the past. Losing middle linebacker Ray Lewis hurt them and they don’t seem to attack with as much fury as they did and they have tumbled to 27th in yards allowed. Strong safety Bernard Pollard is an underrated force. He leads the team with 69 tackles and has 5 passes defensed.|
|The Steelers are also getting solid play from their special teams, even though they don’t have anyone with Jones’ spectacular return ability. Placekicker Shaun Suisham has made 20-of-21 FG attempts, while Drew Butler has placed 13 of his 33 punts inside the 20.||Special Teams||The Ravens get a big lift from their special teams. One of the key reasons for that is the speed of Jacoby Jones, who has already returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. Placekicker Justin Tucker has been a huge upgrade from Billy Cundiff, who manned the position a year ago. Tucker has made 17-of-18 FG attempts.|
The winner is
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