NFL Week 9 – Steelers Look for Payback against Ravens
John BensonNo comments
Normally, when AFC North rivals Baltimore (5-3, 2-2 away) and Pittsburgh (5-3, 3-1 home) meet, you know what you’re going to get. Both teams are seemingly cut from the same smash-mouth football cloth.
This year is a little different, though. At times this season, the Steelers have been nothing short of disappointing; in other moments, they have looked unstoppable. Case in point: last week, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for more than 500 yards as the Steelers routed a surging Colts team. But, just a week before, Pittsburgh was decimated by the Cleveland Browns. (Moreover, in week 4, they dropped a home game to the Buccaneers – which remains Tampa’s only win on the season.) The result is that you don’t know what you’re going to get from the Steelers from one week to the next this year.
Overall, the good has outweighed the bad, and Pittsburgh is right in the thick of the AFC North race. The Steelers are eager to shut-up the critics, at least for a little while, by putting together two solid performances in a row and trumping the hated Ravens.
Said running back Le’Veon Bell, who leads the AFC with 1,086 all-purpose yards, “We know what we’re capable of. We showed everybody. Now we have to go out there and put performance on top of performance.”’
As for Baltimore, it lost in heart-breaking fashion last weekend against the AFC North leading Cincinnati Bengals. (The game was neck and neck the whole way, true to its one-point spread.) After being down in the latter part of the game, Baltimore took the lead mid-way through the fourth quarter, only to surrender the go-ahead touchdown with under two minutes to go. Agony momentarily turned to elation when QB Joe Flacco hooked up with WR Steve Smith Sr. for an 80 yard TD with 47 seconds left. But elation went back to agony just as swiftly, as Smith Sr. was flagged for offensive pass interference on the play. Baltimore will need to shake off the loss quickly, though, as a poor performance against the Steelers could land them in last place in the division come Monday.
Whatever the outcome, this game is sure to have playoff ramifications later in the season.
“The main thing is we continue to improve,” said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. “We’re playing a great team, obviously by the way they played last week. It’s our rival. It’s there. All the things that go into that game are going to be – just like this last game – all those things are at stake.”
Though both teams are usually buoyed by tough defenses, that is not the case for Pittsburgh this season. Add in an on-form Roethlisberger plus an injury to Ravens top DB Jimmy Smith (knee/ankle), and all of a sudden the over (48) is appealing.