Last week, the Ravens lost to the Indianapolis Colts, 17-15. This was a game that the Ravens could have won and should have won. This was a pivotal loss because both the Steelers and Bengals lost, and it was a good opportunity for the Ravens to gain some ground in the division. The Colts scored on their first drive, when QB Peyton Manning threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to TE Dallas Clark. Then, new Ravens K Billy Cundiff hit a 46-yard field goal. To end the quarter, Cundiff hit again, this time from 44 yards. Cundiff came out again, and gave the Ravens a 9-7 lead on a 38-yard field goal. But the Colts quickly responded, when RB Joseph Addai ran for a 5-yard touchdown. Then Cundiff made a 36-yard field goal, to make it 14-12 at halftime. When he came out again, this time from 30 yards, he missed wide to the right, on a chance for the Ravens to take the lead. Cundiff gave the Ravens the lead later, though, on a 20-yarder. But then out came former Ravens K Matt Stover. Stover hit from 25 yards, to give the Colts the lead back. When the Ravens drove down the field next, they were getting closer to the score and the win. But then, Flacco was picked off by Colts LB Gary Brackett. The Colts were unable to score, and punted the ball away to Ed Reed with less than a minute left on the clock. During Reed's return, he tried to pitch the ball, but he fumbled, and the Colts recovered to win the game.
Other Game Notes: This was not Cundiff's fault. The Ravens had plenty of chances to win. For instance, in the fourth quarter, the Ravens had a first a goal at the one. But they couldn't get in the end zone, and had to settle for a field goal. During the game, Ravens CB Fabian Washington got hurt, and will miss the rest of the season.
Next Sunday, the Ravens face their arch enemy, the 6-4 Pittsburgh Steelers. This game is in Baltimore, and will be shown on national television, on NBC's Sunday Night Football. For the Ravens, this game is a must-win. A loss could be the end of the team's playoff hopes. The Steelers are without a doubt the Ravens' biggest and most fierce rival. Last year, the Steelers ended the Ravens season by beating them in the AFC Championship. The Ravens do have a little bit of an advantage, because the Steelers key defensive player, S Troy Polamalu, won't play. The Steelers are 2-4 without Polamalu this season, and 4-1 with him. Their two wins without him were very close games. But they Ravens are shorthanded on defense too, as LB Terrell Suggs will be out for at least a month. The Ravens struggling secondary will have to be superb on Sunday, as they will face Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who is 4th in the NFL in passing. Roethlisberger is expected to play Sunday despite a concussion last week. But still, he won't be completely on his game. If he gets hurt during the game, the Steelers will have to play third-string QB Dennis Dixon, because their backup, Charlie Batch, is also hurt. The Steelers strong run defense will be tested this week when they face Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. In a tough and physical game, and another desperation game for the Ravens, I have the Ravens winning, 26-24.
Suggestion: Again, the Ravens secondary could be vital to the outcome of this game. As I mentioned earlier, Fabian Washington is out for the year. In his absence, the Ravens signed CB Cary Williams. If the Ravens secondary can stop a powerful Steelers pass offense, they can definitely win this game.
Key Matchups for Ravens vs. Steelers
Ravens C Matt Birk vs. Steelers NT Casey Hampton Edge: Hampton
Ravens RB Ray Rice vs. Steelers LB James Farrior Edge: Rice
Ravens CB Dominique Foxworth vs. Steelers WR Santonio Holmes Edge: Holmes
Ravens LB Ray Lewis vs. Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall Edge: Lewis
LB Terrell Suggs-Knee-DBT
LB Ray Lewis-Foot-QST
S Ed Reed-Foot/Illness-QST
C Matt Birk-Neck-PRB
TE Todd Heap-Chest-PRB
LB Jarret Johnson-Shoulder-PRB
DT Haloti Ngata-Ankle-PRB
TE L.J. Smith-Illness-PRB
QB Charlie Batch-Wrist-OUT
G Chris Komeatu-Knee-OUT
S Troy Polamalu-Knee-OUT
DE Travis Kirschke-Calf-QST
QB Ben Roethlisberger-Head-QST
RB Willie Parker-Hip-PRB
AFC North Standings
Team W L
Bengals 7 3
Steelers 6 4
Ravens 5 5
Browns 1 9
AFC North Outlook: We might as well let the Bengals run away with the division and hope for a Wild Card spot. If the Ravens win Sunday, there hopes of a Wild Card spot go up.
Correction: Ben Roethlisberger is OUT for Sunday's game.
That's it for this week's version of my Ravens Report, see ya next week!