Steelers vs. Ravens: Keys to Victory
The Pittsburgh Steelers will take the field on Saturday night as AFC North Champions in the hopes of achieving their first post-season victory since the 2010 AFC Championship Game. The Baltimore Ravens will be standing in their way. The two teams split the season series against each other in uncharacteristic blow outs for each side. What do the Steelers need to secure the victory and move on to the next round of the playoffs?
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Don’t abandon what works
This goes for both sides of the ball. The Steelers will officially not have Le’Veon Bell on the field so they need not toss out their entire playbook and try all sorts of new looks and routes for the receivers. The last time the Steelers faced the Ravens Bell had only 20 yards on the ground on 10 carries and 5 receptions for 38 yards and a touchdown. I’m not saying Bell wasn’t a factor in that game, I’m just saying that the offense has succeeded without major production from him before.
On the defensive side of the ball they need to remember what worked against Joe Flacco and Co. the in the last meeting. As much as I can’t stand the talk of the Steelers being “better” without Troy Polamalu on the field there’s no denying that the Steelers secondary has made differences in their last two games, forcing four turnovers and keeping the Chiefs completely out of the end zone. Polamalu also left the last meeting against the Ravens in the 2nd quarter with a knee injury.
Play clean, mistake-free football
Like Tomlin said in his press conference, “splash plays” could end up deciding this game but you can’t count on them or expect where or when they’re going to come. What the Steelers can control is how soundly they play the game on Saturday night. The Ravens were penalized over 100 yards in the last meeting and gave up a fumble and an interception. Ben Roethlisberger didn’t need to throw for six touchdowns that night for the Steelers to get the victory with the Ravens giving up that much yardage and giving up the football twice.
A “splash play” could very well be a punt return touchdown by either Jacoby Jones or Antonio Brown, but you never know. It could more likely be a fumble recovery or an interception. It could also be in the form of a drive-killing or drive-extending penalty call. The Steelers need to stay on the right side of turnovers and penalties if they want to advance to the next round of the playoffs.
Big Game-Big Ben
This is the same from last week. The Steelers need Ben Roethlisberger to remind everyone why he’s a legitimate MVP candidate and why the Steelers need to basically hand him a blank check in the offseason for his next contract.
It’s unrealistic to expect another 340 passing yards and 6 touchdowns from him against the Ravens but it is realistic to expect him to rise to the occasion and lead this team to a victory. They earned this home playoff game based on his play during the season and as long as the offensive line can keep Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs off of his back, he can take advantage of the Ravens’ weak secondary again and lead the team to the AFC Divisional round.
What are your keys to victory, Steeler Nation?
Here we go Steelers! Here we go!