|5:30 PM PT6:30 PM MT7:30 PM CT8:30 PM ET1:30 GMT9:30 6:30 PM MST8:30 PM EST7:30 PM CT5:30 UAE (+1)20:30 ETNaN:� , December 10, 2017|
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Weather: 33°, Cloudy Attendance: 60,069
Steelers, Ravens renew rivalry with playoff implications
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
- Baltimore worked over Detroit, 44-20, last Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, recording its season-high third straight victory, and scoring 40+ points for the second time in the last five contests. The Ravens are averaging just 19.3 points per game on the road this season (27.3 ppg at home).
- The Steelers rallied from a 17-0 deficit to defeat the Bengals, 23-20, at Paul Brown Stadium on Monday night, winning their seventh straight game in the process. Pittsburgh is 17-2 in its last 19 games -- tied with New England for the best mark in football since Week 11 in 2016.
- Pittsburgh defeated Baltimore, 26-9, in these clubs' first meeting of the year in Week 4 at M&T Bank Stadium. Dating to the beginning of 2011 and including the postseason, the Ravens have won four of the last seven games vs. the Steelers at Heinz Field.
- Joe Flacco threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns (0 INT) last Sunday, improving to 90-60 in his first 150 career regular-season starts. Including the 2014 wild-card game, Flacco has at least one TD pass in 10 straight games vs. Pittsburgh -- tied with Sammy Baugh for the longest streak all-time.
- In addition to 76 yards on the ground, Le'Veon Bell had 106 receiving yards and a touchdown Monday night, recording his second career game with 100+ yards receiving (had 159 yards vs. Saints in 2014). Bell has 266 rush yards and four scrimmage touchdowns (3 rush, 1 rec) in his last two games against the Ravens.
- The Ravens have just 25 plays of 20 or more yards this season -- fewest in the NFL. Pittsburgh has allowed 39 such plays in 2017-18 (eighth fewest in football).
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The Pittsburgh Steelers can punch their tickets to the postseason with a victory over the visiting Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night.
However, they will have to accomplish that goal without a couple of key players.
Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is suspended after a hard block on Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict on Monday night. Linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a spinal injury in that game and had to be hospitalized.
Pittsburgh (10-2) can clinch its third AFC North title in four seasons with a win or tie against Baltimore, which has won three straight. Getting a win is the main focus this week, not the fallout from the physical game against the Bengals.
"It's a challenge on a short week, you know, playing on Monday Night and having another big division game coming up," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "But such is life in the AFC North. We embrace the challenges of playing in this division -- how tough it is and the intentions of those we compete against. We'll be energized by game time on Sunday. We'll be excited about defending our turf against a very good football team."
The Ravens also had a key loss when their top cornerback Jimmy Smith suffered a season-ending torn Achilles in the previous game against Lions. He was also suspended four games for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.
As a result, Baltimore will rely on Brandon Carr and rookie Marlon Humphrey to start on the outside against the Steelers' Antonio Brown and likely Martavis Bryant. A pair of young cornerbacks, Jaylen Hill and Maurice Canady, will also get more opportunities. Cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste was promoted from the practice squad and could see some action.
"Our secondary is playing at a really high level," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday. "It will be tested in this game against their players and their scheme. So, we look forward to it. How we fare is yet to be determined. We'll have to prove that on the field."
The Steelers beat Baltimore 26-9 in the first meeting on Oct 1. With Ravens tackle Brandon Williams out of the lineup with a foot injury, Pittsburgh running back Le'Veon Bell amassed 144 yards with two touchdowns. Williams has bounced back from the injury and Baltimore's run defense has been solid. So, Bell will be challenged to repeat that performance.
This game also has big playoff implications for the Ravens, who own the sixth and final spot in the AFC playoff race. Baltimore could improve its postseason seeding with a win.
"It's a great rivalry," Harbaugh said. "We love playing in it. It's the most physical game we play every single year. It's always tough coming out of the game in that you're going to have a lot of bumps and bruises for sure. We have respect for them."
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is looking forward to the challenge against the Steelers defense, which is ranked fourth overall in the NFL. In his last seven games at Heinz Field, Flacco completed 64.4 percent of his passes, averaging 241.7 yards per contest with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. He is 4-3 over that stretch.
"This game is always awesome," Flacco said. "It's a ton of fun to go play up there. The more you go up there, the more you enjoy the atmosphere. It's a good, old-fashioned football game that you love to be a part of."
The Steelers lead all-time series with Baltimore, 23-20. However, the teams have split the last 22 meetings.
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also appreciates the rivalry with Ravens, which is much different than the contentious meeting against the Bengals.
"The difference between this game and the Cincinnati game is these two teams, us and Baltimore, there's always a respect involved in it," Roethlisberger said. "You're going to get hit really hard or you're going to hit somebody really hard, but you're going help them up and say, 'Man, nice job.' At the end of it, you're going to shake hands and give the other guy a hug and say that was a lot of fun and can't wait to do it next year. It's a fun rivalry in the sense that there's a lot of respect and there are two good football teams."
Updated December 6, 2017