A look at the top five Ravens moments in the Ravens/Steelers rivalry

When the Pittsburgh Steelers notched their first win of the season on Monday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it officially became Steelers week in Baltimore.

In what is arguably the greatest rivalry in the NFL, the Ravens and Steelers will write their 49th chapter on Sunday night in the Steel City. Unfortunately, the Steelers lead the all-time series 27-21 and Baltimore will head into this game looking to snap a three-game losing streak in the series.

Ahead of this week’s game, let’s take a walk down memory lane and look at the greatest Ravens moments in the Ravens/Steelers rivalry.

Baltimore+Ravens+v+Pittsburgh+Steelers+1LpBHCaiJ4Ml

TJ Houshmanzadeh burns Bryant McFadden for the game winner. Image Credit: Getty Images

5) October 3,2010-TJ Houshmandzadeh wins it for Baltimore

In what was the Steelers fourth game without star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (who was serving the final game of a four game suspension for violating the NFL’S personal conduct policy), the Ravens found themselves trailing 14-10 with 1:08 left to play and no timeouts.

That’s when Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense took over at the Pittsburgh 40-yard line. Flacco connected with Anquan Boldin for back-to-back gains of nine and three yards to advance the ball to the Steelers 28-yard line. Next was 10-yard strike to T.J. Houshmandzadeh to get the ball into the red zone at the Pittsburgh 18.

On the next play, Flacco took the snap and pump-faked Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden out of his jock strap, allowing Houshmandzadeh to sneak behind him for the go-ahead 18-yard touchdown pass.

Ray Lewis and the defense put it away by intercepting Charlie Batch on the first pass of the subsequent Steelers drive giving the Ravens a 17-14 win over their arch rivals.

BS-bs-roethlisberger-scott-

4) November 26, 2006-Bart Scott rocks Ben Roethlisberger in Ravens Sack Fest

In what was the best regular season in Ravens franchise history, the best moment of that year may have come against the Steelers. The Ravens were leading 14-0 at the 3:30 mark of the second quarter and were in search of their ninth win of the season in week 12.

On a second-and-eight from their own 14-yard line, Roethlisberger dropped back to pass looking to get the Steelers back in the contest. Bart Scott came off the left side of the defensive front untouched and leveled Roethlisberger clean notching the Ravens third sack of the day.

Roethlisberger stayed down on the field for several minutes trying to collect his thoughts after the bone-jarring hit from Scott. It was one of nine sacks on the day for the Ravens defense en route to a 27-0 home victory. The game is one of only three shutouts in the history of the rivalry.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens

Ray Rice Plunges into the endzone to give the Ravens a 14-0 lead. Image Credit: Getty Images

3) September 11, 2011- Ravens throttle Steelers in season opener

The Ravens and Steelers rivalry was fresh off of a 31-24 Steelers triumph in the 2010 AFC divisional playoffs. That was a game that saw the Ravens blow a 21-7 halftime lead with three turnovers in the third quarter to help the Steelers complete the comeback.

The Ravens didn’t have to wait long to see their rivals as they welcomed the Super Bowl runner-ups to town for the 2011 season opener looking to avenge that loss. The Ravens once again jumped out to a 21-7 lead on the strength of two Flacco first half touchdown passes.

As they sat in the locker room, Ray Lewis spoke loudly after his teammates compared the two games.”They were saying, ‘We’ve been here before,” Lewis said. “No, we haven’t been here before. This is a whole new year.”

The Ravens responded well this time when Haloti Ngata forced a Rashard Mendenhall fumble on the first possession of the second half. Flacco found Ed Dickson on the next play for an 18-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 27-7 and the Ravens picked up the two-point conversion when Sam Koch rushed it in.

The Ravens would pick up a season-opening 35-7 win over the Steelers in what remains the Ravens’ most lopsided victory in the rivalry.

Wild Card Playoffs - Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers

Joe Flacco celebrates with Crockett Gilmore after extending the Ravens lead to 30-15. Image Credit: Getty Images

2) January 3, 2015- Ravens pick up first playoff win over Steelers

To this point in the rivalry, the Ravens were 0-3 against the Steelers in the playoffs. The Ravens caught a huge break in the game with Le’Veon Bell missing the contest due to a hyperextended right knee.

Flacco and the offense got off to a good start in the game taking their second possession 80 yards over eight plays and capping it off with a Bernard Pierce touchdown to give the Ravens a 7-3 lead. The teams alternated field goals on the next three possessions giving the Ravens a 10-9 halftime lead.

After a Justin Tucker field goal on the opening drive of the third quarter, the Ravens notched a Torrey Smith touchdown after the Steelers were forced to punt to extend the lead to 20-9.

The Steelers cut it to 20-15 at the 11:01 mark of the fourth quarter but that was as close as they would get and the Ravens triumphed 30-17 for their first postseason win against the Steelers.

usa-today-8746368.0

Image Credit: USA Today

1) November 6, 2011- Flacco’s finest drive leads Ravens over Steelers

Ravens trail 20-16. 2:24 left to play. Flacco and the offense take over at their own eight-yard line.

No words can do this drive justice. Enjoy:

The win put the Ravens in a first place tie with the Bengals atop the AFC North. This drive is the best drive I have ever seen from a Ravens quarterback. This win also completed a season sweep of the Steelers which helped the Ravens with the AFC North and secure a home playoff game.

As Steelers week is upon us what are your favorite memories from the rivalry?

Image Credit: WNST

Advertisements

Ravens take down Broncos 27-14: Five things we learned

BALTIMORE — Despite allowing the Denver Broncos to score touchdowns on their first two possessions and jump out to a 14-7 lead, the Baltimore Ravens did not allow them to reach the end zone again as Baltimore took down Denver 27-14 at M&T Bank Stadium.

Both teams now hold 2-1 records. With the Bengals losing to the Panthers 31-21 on Sunday, Baltimore and Cincinnati share the lead for first place in the AFC North, followed by Cleveland (1-1-1) and Pittsburgh (0-1-1).

For the Ravens, Sunday’s win over the Broncos could prove to be a valuable win. The Ravens will play four of their next five games on the road. Their next three games are all on the road, and two of them are against divisional opponents – the Steelers and Browns. The Ravens historically struggle away from home but will hold the rest advantage over the Steelers ahead of next week’s primetime classic. The Steelers play the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football tomorrow night in Tampa.

Now that the postgame festivities have wrapped up, let’s take a look at what we learned during Sunday’s win.


1. Ravens are lucky special teams blunders did not prove too costly 

Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg and head coach John Harbaugh, formally a special teams coordinator, must have been furious with the unit’s performance in the first half. After the Ravens went three-and-out on their first offensive drive, linebacker Joseph Jones blocked Sam Koch‘s punt before Buck Allen recovered it at the Ravens’ 4-yard line. Then the Broncos scored a touchdown on their very first offensive play as Royce Freeman found a hole and dashed forward for a six-yard score.

With the Ravens leading 17-14 in the second quarter, Justin Tucker came on to attempt his second field goal of the afternoon, a 43-yarder. After the ball was snapped, out of nowhere, safety Justin Simmons appeared behind the line of scrimmage and blocked Tucker’s kick. Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. recovered the ball and sprinted to the end-zone for what would have been a 58-yard return touchdown. But, the score was called back due to an illegal block call on lineman Billy Turner.

Denver took over at midfield afterwards, but Tucker should have been awarded another attempt at the kick, because Simmons jumped over long snapper Morgan Cox, which isn’t allowed anymore.

The third and final special teams blunder came on a kickoff in the first quarter when Robinson Daniel was flagged for an illegal formation. These penalties only turned into seven points for Denver, but it’s disappointing for a unit that’s been regarded as one of the best in the NFL during Harbaugh’s tenure. The Ravens waived Janarion Grant on Saturday because of his special teams slip-ups. If this trend continues, the coaching staff will find other options.


2. Buck Allen is a touchdown machine (and a fantasy sleeper)

The running backs took care of scoring all three touchdowns against the Broncos, and Allen accounted for two of them. Joe Flacco connected with Allen for a 12-yard catch-and-run about midway through the second quarter put the Ravens up 17-14. Allen found the end-zone again at the 7:26 mark in the fourth quarter with a one-yard run for the Ravens’ final score.

Allen has accumulated four touchdowns over the first three games of the season, and he’s scored in every contest. He’s only registered 76 all-purpose yards so far, but the coaching staff recognizes his knack for finding the end-zone and has utilized him effectively.

If you’re a fantasy football team owner exploring different options for your flex position, Allen is likely still available in several leagues and could be a steal if picked up.


3. Kenny Young should start even when C.J. Mosley returns from injury 

One of the brightest spots of Sunday’s win over Denver was watching fourth-round rookie linebacker Kenny Young shine in his first NFL start. Young filled in for C.J. Mosley, who suffered a bone bruise in Cincinnati. Mosley practiced on a limited basis last week, but was ruled out shortly before kickoff.

Young didn’t waste any time making his presence felt. He led the team with 10 tackles (eight solo), including one tackle-for-loss. He flies around the field and is around the ball often. He’s easily been the most impressive rookie on defense so far.

It’s no secret that Mosley is in his contract year and, according to reports, has not been approached by the Ravens yet over signing an extension. Mosley is a very intelligent football player. When he’s in the game, he wears the helmet connected to the headsets of defensive coaches who relay the play calls to him. However, there are flaws in his game, particularly in pass coverage. If he doesn’t put together this best season after coming back from this bone bruise, and Young continues to impress in his rookie campaign, paying Mosley could become less likely.

Young has a long way to go before replacing Mosley becomes a real possibility, but his first start could not have gone much better.


4. Run game needs improvement, but balance helps Flacco

By no means was the Ravens’ rushing attack impressive on Sunday. Both Alex Collins and Allen combined for 75 rushing yards and struggled to find open holes to burst through. With that said, it was refreshing to see offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg commit to the run game and at least try to get it going. Flacco operates best when the running game clicks. Even though the Ravens averaged under three yards-per-carry, it took some of the pressure off Flacco.

With a commitment to the run game present, Flacco completed 63% of his passes, threw for 277 yards with a touchdown and did not turn the ball over. Against Cincinnati, Flacco threw the ball 55 times and turned the football over twice while only 22 running plays were called. The offensive line still has a long way to go, but at least the Ravens showed a commitment to running the football.


5. Brandon Carr could be a huge liability against the Steelers next week

Without Jimmy Smith last season, Brandon Carr got exposed against top wide receivers. Carr put together a solid performance with an interception in week one against Buffalo, but since then he’s left a lot to be desired.

In the second half, Case Keenum picked on Carr and it worked out well. It didn’t matter if it was Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, or Courtland Sutton, Carr gave up plays of 22 and 21 yards, as well as plays of eight and nine yards that resulted in first downs. He was also flagged for pass interference which turned into a 17-yard Denver gain.

It’s no secret that the Steelers’ wide receiving corps is loaded with the likes of Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and Darrius Heyward-Bey. In a December matchup against the Steelers last season, Ben Roethlisberger threw for over 500 yards without Smith in the Ravens’ secondary. It will be hard for Big Ben to match that total, but the thought of Carr covering Brown makes Ravens fans cringe.

Hopefully the Ravens learn from their mistakes and keep Marlon Humphrey on Brown next Sunday. Facing the Steelers offense is daunting enough, but without Smith it’s that much more of a challenge.

Image Credit: Baltimore Sun 

Three things to watch for as the Ravens host the Broncos in Week 3

BALTIMORE — The 1-1 Baltimore Ravens will welcome the 2-0 Denver Broncos to M&T Bank Stadium this Sunday looking to bounce back from a disappointing 34-23 setback last Thursday night in Cincinnati.

Some of the same problems we’ve seen from the Ravens in recent seasons plagued the team again on Thursday. An offense sputtering out of the gate coupled with a C.J. Mosley-less defense found the Ravens behind the eight ball faced with a 21-0 deficit less than two minutes into the second quarter.

The defense and offense both woke up to some extent to lead a furious charge back into the contest. The Ravens sliced the Bengals’ lead to five with roughly nine and a half minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. After a Tavon Young holding penalty extended the Bengals next drive which led to a field goal, quarterback Joe Flacco fell victim to a sack fumble on the next possession which ultimately put the game away.

A road loss on Thursday night football isn’t the end of the world, but it was still against a division opponent who’s had the Ravens’ number in recent seasons. Now, the Ravens find themselves in a must-win situation at home against the Broncos before facing the Steelers, Browns, and Titans all on the road. As for Denver, the Broncos share the lead in the AFC West with the also undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos began the season with two impressive victories at home over the Seahawks and Raiders. Here’s what to watch for during Sunday’s contest.

r432708_576x324_16-9

Alex Collins is praying for more carries this week against the Broncos. Image Credit: ESPN

1) Can the Ravens commit to the running game?

Much of the story for the past few seasons surrounding the Ravens offense has been the team’s inability/unwillingness to commit to the running game. Starting tailback Alex Collins has just 16 carries through two weeks which is a number that Ravens fans want to see go up significantly.

Flacco provides the greatest value when he is able to run play action effectively and hit deep passes to his new look receiver corps. It is impossible to establish the play action passing game when you prove to offer no threat of running the football. 10 out of 13 Ravens drives last week featured first down passes. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg needs to change that this week.

Given the Ravens’ offensive line struggles, one of the best ways to get an offensive line feeling confident about themselves is to allow them to run block. The Broncos are sixth against the run through two weeks this season but have faced Seattle and Oakland to this point; neither team offers the run threat that the Ravens can present in Collins.

If the Ravens don’t commit to the running game this week against the Broncos, it could be a long day for the offense.

gettyimages-1020400056-e1534849417586

Ronnie Stanley will need to come up with a gutsy performance this Sunday. Image Credit: Getty Images

2) How in the world do the Ravens block Von Miller and Bradley Chubb?

The Ravens’ offensive line are coming off of a night in which they allowed four sacks and several additional hurries against the Bengals. The Bengals’ pass rush disrupted Flacco and the offense all night making it difficult for them to find consistent rhythmn. Flacco moved well in the pocket to make the most of a rough night from his guys up front, but if the line struggles Sunday, the problem may be too great to overcome once again.

Von Miller is one of the most disruptive forces in the NFL. He consistently presents the ability to absolutely wreck your offensive game plan. He is nearly impossible to single team and that challenge gets even greater when you consider that Ravens starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley was limited in practice yesterday with an arm injury.

A one-arm Stanley figures to present a greater challenge for Miller than a two armed James Hurst, who could arguably be the worst left tackle on the planet. Miller has four sacks on the season and is looking to put together his fifth straight 10+ sack season.

Another issue for the Ravens is that Miller now has a formidable pass-rushing sidekick in 2018 fifth overall pick Bradley Chubb. While the North Carolina State product doesn’t boast the experience or consistency of Miller, he did record 10 sacks in each of his last two seasons in Raleigh. Chubb has a half-sack on the season and the Ravens will hope his slow start carries over into Sunday.

The Ravens will undoubtedly have to chip with tight ends on Miller and may have to leave extra backs in to help out as well. This is a huge test for the Ravens’ offensive line and we will see if they can answer the call this Sunday.

61722b76-c230-4ee1-b53e-756e4f5b80f3-large16x9_AP_17351730526931

Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce need to help shut down the Denver rushing game in the absence of C.J. Mosley. Image Credit: WJLA

3) Can the Ravens defense make the Broncos one-dimensional?

The Ravens gave up over 100 yards on the ground last week to Joe Mixon, Gio Bernard and company. With Mosley out of the game early, the Bengals churned out yardage to the tune of four yards per-carry. Mosley doesn’t project to play this week which will put more pressure on Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce.

Enter Phillip Lindsay and the Broncos second ranked rushing offense. Lindsay, a rookie out of the University of Colorado, is currently third in the NFL with 178 rushing yards to-date. The Broncos also have 2018 third-round pick and projected starter Royce Freeman who put up 99 yards and a touchdown in two games despite Lindsay taking a majority of the snaps.

It is imperative for the Ravens’ defense to shut down the Broncos running game and make Case Keenum and the Denver offense one-dimensional. Keenum has three touchdowns and four interceptions to-date on the season and although he boasts a 2-1 record against the Ravens lifetime, his numbers are poor.

Prior to last season’s breakout year and subsequent free agency score, Keenum had just 27 passing touchdowns and 24 interceptions in 28 career appearances. He is a gunslinger who is prone to turning the ball over and the if the Ravens make him beat them, it bodes well for a Baltimore victory this Sunday.

Prediction: Ravens 23 Broncos 17

I think the Ravens look more like the team that dismantled the Bills than the one that struggled against the Bengals. This is a bigger game for the Ravens than it is for the Broncos with the Ravens heading to Pittsburgh next week. They don’t want to be staring a 1-3 first quarter of the year in the face. They won’t be.

The Details:

Image Credit: The Sports Daily