Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) vs Baltimore RavensÂ (5-2)
When: 8:20 p.m. | Where: Heinz Field
TV: NBC (Al Michaels, play-by-play, Chris Collinsworth)
Odds: Pittsburgh -3.5
What’s on the line
Importance of Pittsburgh winning: Steelers would move a full game ahead of Baltimore in the loss column, improving to 7-2 and split the season series. The Ravens would fall to 5-3 and suffer their third loss in conference play, another area where Pittsburgh would have a one game advantage in.
Importance of Baltimore Winning: Would sweep the season series, moving a game ahead of Pittsburgh in the loss column and most importantly own a critical head-to-head tiebreaker.
Inactives: The Steelers will hold James Farrior out of tonight’s game. Farrior who’s dealing with a calf injury, could have played tonight but wasn’t going to start so the Steelers will hold him out.
Also inactive tonight is LaMarr Woodley, Chris Hoke, Emmanuel Sanders, Doug Legursky and Dennis Dixon.
The big news, as expected, is James Harrison returning to the lineup. Harrison has missed the past four games due to a broken orbital bone. Harrison will start at right outside linebacker.
The return of Harrison and 2nd year linebacker Jason Worilds will lead to the Steelers moving Lawrence Timmons back inside with Larry Foote. Worilds will replace LaMarr Woodley at LOLB.
Hines Ward will start at wide receiver after missing last weeks game.
Game Day Buzz: Pittsburgh is riding a four game winning and have posted a perfect 4-0 record at home through 8 games….Baltimore is 1-2 on the road and 1-5 at Heinz Field since the 2007 season (including playoffs)….. Baltimore defeated Pittsburgh, 35-7 n week 1……Pittsburgh is 6-3 vs the Ravens since 2008……The Steelers have been 6-2 at the eight game mark all five seasons under head coach Mike Tomlin (2007-2011)…….
QB Ben Roethlisberger (14 TD – 7 INT – 2,302 Yds – 95.7 QB Rating) is 5-0 in his last five home games vs Baltimore. During that span Roethlisberger has thrown for 1,140 yards, 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions vs the Ravens….. Roethlisberger has thrown for 11 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in the Steelers four game winning streak and posted a 102.0 QB rating in the month of October…..QB Joe Flacco (8 TD – 6 INT – 1,751 Yds – 75.4 Rating) is 1-4 all-time in Pittsburgh…..Flacco in the month of October went 82/153 for 941 yards, 1 touchdown, 4 interceptions, sacked 10 times and posted a 63.7 QB rating….
Baltimore comes into tonight’s game with the No. 1 ranked defense (263.3 YPG) and the No. 2 pass defense, giving up 174.1 yards per game…..Pittsburgh boast the No. 2 ranked defense (270.8 YPG) and have the No. 1 ranked pass defense in the NFL, giving up 171.6 yards per game……
LB Terrell Suggs (33 Tackles, 6 Sacks, 1 INT) has 20 tackles, 8.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles in his last 4 games vs Pittsburgh. In Baltimore’s 35-7 win vs Pittsburgh in week 1, Suggs had 5 tackles, 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles…..DE Haloti Ngata (28 Tackles, 3 Sacks, 2 FF) has 22 tackles, 2 sacks and 1 forced fumble in his last 4 games vs Pittsburgh….LB James Harrison returns to the lineup after missing the last four games and will start at ROLB. Since 2007, Harrison has 74 tackles, 9 sacks and 7 forced fumbles vs the Ravens.
Hines Ward returns to the starting lineup and has 0 touchdowns in his last 12 regular season games vs Baltimore…..The last Steelers running back to rush for over 100 yards vs Baltimore was Jerome Bettis (27 CAR -117 Yds) on 12/27/2004…….
Roethlisberger vs Flacco: QB play has always been critical to the Steelers rivalry with Baltimore since the John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco era. Five of the last six meetings have been decided by seven or fewer points with a field goal providing the difference four times.
In the season opener, Flacco outplayed Roethlisberger mightily, passing for 224 yards with 3 touchdowns, while Roethlisberger threw 3 interceptions as the Steelers had seven turnovers in the game.
The two quarterbacks though have been going in different directions.
Flacco has thrown just 5 touchdowns (6 interceptions) in since the season opener and in his last four games, has thrown 4 interceptions, been sacked 10 times and posted a 63.7 QB rating.
Roethlisberger by comparison has thrown for 11 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions in his last four games, throwing back-to-back 300+ yard games.
A striking difference from both quarterbacks is in the 11-20 yard range and third down conversions. Flacco relies prominently on short passes, completing 65.6 percent of his passes (84/128, 841 Yards) on passes of 1 to 10 yards.
On throws in the 11-20 yard range, Flacco completes just 44 percent.
Roethlisberger on passes in the 11-20 yard range is 46 of 85 for 759 yards, 4 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, completing 54.1 percent.
In the clutch on third down there hasn’t been a better quarterback than Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger is completing 66.3 percent of his passes on third down, going 53 of 80 for 778 yards, 5 touchdowns – 2 interceptions with a 108.2 rating on third down.
Flacco has a completion rate of just 43.1 on third down, going 28 of 65 for 351 yards, 1 TD – 2 INT and has been sacked 6 times.
On third down situations of 6 yards or more, Flacco is completing just 40 percent of his passes.
*It will be interesting to see how James Harrison fares tonight. In the season opener, Baltimore ran at Harrison, exploiting the Steelers against the run.
Harrison though was coming on before his injury and the time off has helped his back which bothered him mightily in the preseason and the first couple weeks of the regular season.
The biggest questionmark defensively for the Steelers tonight is their pass rush.
*Another intriguing development for the Steelers will their receiver corps. With Ward sidelined last week and Wallace – Sanders and Brown working as the top three, it opened so many things up underneath and helped the Steelers run a different type of passing attack.
Now Ward will be back in the starting lineup and Sanders is not active due to the death of his mother.