The Baltimore Ravens (3-3) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4) are set to have the first of two match-ups this season at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Sunday, October 20th. The game will be broadcast on CBS at 4:25 EST.
The two teams have developed one of the best rivalries in the NFL over the years and intensity runs high when they take the field against each other. But the Ravens know what they need to do in order to take down the Steelers.
Here’s a look at the Ravens keys to winning in Pittsburgh.
Stop Antonio Brown
The Steelers offense, much like the Ravens, has been struggling in certain areas this season. But Antonio Brown has been the core of the Steelers attack. Brown is averaging 99.6 yards per game and has tallied only one drop so far this season when targeted. Brown also has the most first down conversions from any receiver in the NFL this season.
The Ravens secondary needs to have tight coverage on Brown and disallow quarterback Ben Roethlisberger from connecting with him. Cornerback Lardarius Webb will be matched up against Brown on Sunday. As the Ravens top cornerback, Webb is capable of stopping Brown, but it won’t be easy.
“He’s a great receiver,” Webb said. “He’s one of those guys that can beat you in one play.”
If the Ravens are going to test the run game, now’s the time
The Steelers defense against the run game has not been strong. They are averaging 114.8 yards per game on rushing yards given up. While the Ravens have been struggling with running the ball, the team could benefit by testing out different schemes against a spotty run defense.
“You’ll see a lot more of the changes on Sunday in terms of what we’re going to do” running back Ray Rice said after practice Thursday. “We’re running the same stuff, it just might be out of a different formation or something.
Torrey Smith needs to be a step above Ike Taylor
Wide receiver Torrey Smith has been one of the Ravens most reliable receivers this season. But this weekend, he will be matched up against Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor.
Smith and Taylor have battled it out over the past couple of seasons, but more recently, Taylor had the upper-hand. Last season, Taylor held Smith to a total of four catches for 40 yards for both games. But Smith dominated Taylor in the wide receiver’s rookie season, recording five catches for 71 yards.
Football fans couldn’t ask for a better matchup than this. The two are very evenly paired, but if Smith wants to come out on top, he has to break away from Taylor. Crossing routes will be key for Smith in this game, which he has been working on to add versatility to his game. The Steelers have missed a total of 45 tackles in five games so far this season, so if Smith can get out of Taylor’s coverage, he will have a successful day.
Pressure Ben Roethlisberger
Since Roethlisberger entered the league in 2004, the Ravens have played against him a total of 14 times. In those 14 meetings, the Ravens defense has sacked him 47 times.
The Steelers offensive line has taken some hits this season. In Week 1, Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey suffered a knee injury, ending his season just as it began. Other injuries and inconsistent play has plagued their offensive line all season. The Ravens need to capitalize on the weak offensive line and get to Roethlisberger.
Without a doubt, the Ravens pass rush has been one of the most reliable aspects of the team’s play this season. With Terrell Suggs on one side and Elvis Dumervil on the other, the Ravens should not have too many problems with getting to Roesthlisberger and forcing the early pass, or more ideally, taking him down for a sack.