How in the hell are we going to keep those Ratbirds from giving their coach another Gatorade bath this year? You all know its coming. They don’t care if they beat us with the 3rd string quarterback or not they’ll celebrate their mini Super Bowl just the same. Ben Roethlisberger will most likely not take the field this Sunday and Steeler Nation’s hopes rest with Charlie Batch once again. Odds are the offense can’t possibly continue this pattern of turnovers, inability to convert 3rd downs, and unable to connect in red zone opportunities but there certainly isn’t an air of overwhelming confidence hovering over Steeler Nation even with the shuffling that has occurred in the lineup. Aside from their own offensive challenges, the Steelers defense will need to replicate their previous performance of complete and total containment of the Ravens offense in order to stand a chance for victory this Sunday and send Harbaugh back to his locker room dry.
The Ravens offense this season has had their own bouts of schizophrenia, but not the injuries to explain them like the Steelers do. The Ravens dropped 55 at home against the Raiders but against the Steelers the following week failed to score a single offensive touchdown and last week in San Diego needed to convert a 4th and 29 to force overtime. Unfortunately for the Steelers, the Ravens most impressive offensive performances this season have been in M & T Bank Stadium, which was also the site of last season’s 35-7 drubbing. The Steelers defense have been playing lights out the past two weeks, aside from their continued challenges to force turnovers and sacks on a regular and expected basis, they’ve given up very few yards and points to opponents. Given how the defense underperformed in the beginning of the season and have now come on to control and contain, they will need to put together a near perfect performance against Joe Flacco and co. in order to give the Steelers offense a chance to right the offensive wrongs they’ve been committing in Roethlisberger’s absence. Troy Polamalu coming back into the lineup, although not expected to play a majority of the game, could provide a burst the defense has been lacking when it comes to creating those “splash plays” Troy is so famous for. Polamalu has been an unhappy spectator the bulk of the season saying,
“There’s a reason why the Steelers don’t have cheerleaders. I’m not on the sidelines cheering. I’m a football player.”
This certainly doesn’t feel like the typical Ravens Week with all the trash talking going back and forth and the anticipation of a great game being played. A lot can be attributed to the retirement of Hines Ward, who played such a big part in this rivalry for so many years. And much can be accredited to the fact that the Ravens have such a giant lead on the Steelers right now. There’s not a whole lot riding on this game aside from pride and the Steelers clinging to their playoff hopes. There’s virtually no way the Steelers are catching up to, let alone passing the Ravens for the division so that’s not even up for grabs on Sunday. There was a tiny glimmer of hope that Roethlisberger could return for this game but so far this week he has not taken snaps with the first team and has reportedly not regained his arm strength needed to play at the level necessary. There’s a little bit of rivalry going back and forth with the shots of Ray Rice leaving Heinz Field last game wearing a Terrible Towel on his head (He later backtracked from it saying he meant no disrespect and had traded his game worn cleats with a fan for the towel clearly in an attempt to avoid the curse) and the story surfacing of the Ravens fan who apparently feeds Casey Hampton a hot dog before the games. There’s also no Ray Lewis, who is still recovering from his triceps tear.
I’ll have to admit I’m all over the place about this game. My head says the Steelers don’t stand a chance without a healthy Roethlisberger and my heart says the defense can win it and put those purple Ratbirds in their place. I do know that as much as I don’t believe Charlie Batch is as bad as he played last week in Cleveland, if it turns into an offensive shootout with Flacco and Rice we’re cooked. Nothing would give me more pleasure than sending those jagoffs to their locker rooms wondering what went wrong and keeping Harbaugh from giving another arrogant press conference congratulating himself and the city of Baltimore but I’m just not sure if this team can get it done. What are your thoughts, Steeler Nation? Does this game have the same rivalry feeling to it? Can the defense win it for us?
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