Game Scout: Ravens at Steelers

Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Baltimore Ravens (3-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-4)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh - TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
*Keys to the game: Unable to protect QB Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers have taken to using a lot of three-step drops to get the ball out of his hands. Roethlisberger has averaged 351 passing yards over the past three games, but eventually defenses will sit on the quick passing lanes in those shot drops. Pittsburgh desperately needs to get the ground game untracked, but rookie Le'Veon Bell hasn't provided a spark by averaging just 2.8 yards per carry the past two games. Baltimore's ground game isn't much better, averaging a paltry 2.7 yards per carry. RB Ray Rice appears to be over a hip flexor injury, but he has only 197 rushing yards while averaging 2.8 yards per carry. Of his 71 rushes, 40 have gone for two yards or less. He traditionally struggles against the Steelers, but Pittsburgh's run defense has taken a decided step back this season as it ranks 22nd in the league. The Steelers have only seven sacks on the season, so QB Joe Flacco will take his shots against a vulnerable secondary.
*Matchup to watch - Ravens WR Torrey Smith vs. Steelers CB Ike Taylor: Smith doesn't normally get caught up in trash talking, but admitted Taylor has a way of drawing people into running conversations. "He gets it out of me every single time," Smith said this week. Taylor shadowed Smith at Heinz Field last season and limited him to one catch for seven yards.
*Player spotlight - Ravens FS Matt Elam: The rookie doesn't have any interceptions, but he's fast and aggressive. As the last line of defense, his maturation will be tested by Roethlisberger, who loves to push the ball down the field on busted plays.
*Fast facts: Rice has 549 yards and three touchdowns in nine career games against Pittsburgh with 24 catches for 251 yards and one touchdown. ... This is the first meeting since 2002 in which neither team enters with a winning record.
A veteran quarterback behind a struggling offensive line with no ground support to speak of and missing a key wide receiver who was let go over the offseason. Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger have strangely similar dilemmas. Edge to the Steelers at home.
*Our pick: Steelers 21-20

What to Read Next