Steelers Must Overcome Ravens’ Stingy Red Zone Defense


Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Whether it has been due to poor play-calling, a make-shift offensive line, Ben Roethlisberger holding onto the ball “too long,” a lack of talent in the offensive backfield, butterfingered wide receivers, etc., the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense just has not finished red zone trips with touchdowns on a consistent basis this fall.

While I will not complain too much, especially since they have the reliable Shaun Suisham to put field goals on the board, the fact that the Steelers’ offense ranks 31st in red zone touchdown percentage (38.46%) at the moment is a big reason why they are 1-4.

Pittsburgh failed to score a touchdown on any of their red zone trips against the New York Jets, including when they had a “1st and Goal” at New York’s two yard line, and continued their trend of looking more or less hapless and incompetent when they entered their opponent’s twenty yard line.

This Sunday, Pittsburgh’s offense will match up against the best red zone defenses in the league when they take on the Baltimore Ravens and their stingy unit.

The Ravens’ defense ranks tied for first in red zone touchdown percentage allowed (25.00%), and they should prove to be a formidable force for Roethlisberger & co. to deal with this weekend.

How much traction the running game will gain near Baltimore’s goal line is a large question, but Pittsburgh will need to find ways to keep Haloti Ngata, Chris Canty, Arthur Jones, and Brandon Williams in check for Le’Veon Bell, Felix Jones, and Jonathan Dwyer to find running lanes. The Ravens’ defense has only allowed one rushing touchdown all season, so it will be up to the Steelers’ make-shift offensive line to win at the point of attack.

Getting their taller pass-catchers (Heath Miller, Derek Moye, David Paulson) involved in the passing game with fades could add a newer wrinkle to the Steelers’ offensive play-calling. Moye and the two tight ends could cause matchup issues when the spaces get tighter near Baltimore’s goal line, and their frames could come in handy if Roethlisberger has to throw the ball “up for grabs.”

Regardless of what strategy Pittsburgh’s offense employs against Baltimore’s defense in the red zone, the Steelers must find ways to put “sixes” on the board instead of “threes.”  Although it will not be easy, Pittsburgh will have no chance of winning this weekend if they cannot sustain drives and finish them with touchdowns.

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