Last week, the Ravens improved to 8-3 with a 17-10 win over the Buccaneers. The score doesn't nearly show how dominating a Ravens performance this was. The Ravens pretty much controlled the game all the way through, with just a slight breakdown towards the end that didn't affect much. Joe Flacco rebounded from a tough start to finish the game well. After a scoreless first quarter, Billy Cundiff and Connor Barth exchanged 45 and 22 yard field goals respectively to make it 3-3. Then, the Ravens took the lead when Flacco went over the middle for Todd Heap, who rumbled and bumbled his way into the end zone for a touchdown. The score was 17-3 at the half after another Flacco TD pass, this one to 10 yards to Mason. The second half consisted of mostly good defense and punting on both sides, and the final scoring of the game came when Josh Freeman threw to Kellen Winslow for a touchdown with just a few minutes remaining. Despite this try at a comeback, the Ravens were able to get the ball back and run down the clock for the win. While this could be called a comfortable win, it came with a price. Three key players (Michael Oher, Dawan Landry, Le'Ron McClain) all left the game with injuries and are questionable for next week's game.
Player of the Game: Ravens QB Joe Flacco-25/35, 289 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns
Next Sunday night the Ravens will host the 8-3 Steelers to decide the sole leader in the AFC North. As one of the most physical rivalries around, you can always expect a lot of hard hits, which in the NFL now means a lot of fines going around too. The Ravens beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh earlier this year, but that was without QB Ben Roethlisberger, who is now back from his suspension. The Ravens haven't beat Roethlisberger since 2006, and now would be the ideal time to break the streak. Rumors have been going around about Roethlisberger's right foot all week. At first he just had a sprained ankle, but the reports have changed to a broken right foot and then back to a sprained ankle on the final injury report. Whatever the injury actually is, Roethlisberger will play with a boot on, in weather that could include rain and snow. The effectiveness of the Ravens defense will definitely affect the outcome of this matchup. The defense has looked older and slower each week, and if the Steelers come out in no-huddle offense, it could be a long and tiring day for Ray Lewis' squad. I think the Ravens can step it up, and I have them taking the lead in the division with a 20-17 win.
Key Matchups for Steelers at Ravens
Ravens LB Ray Lewis vs. Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall Edge: Lewis
Ravens CB Josh Wilson vs. Steelers WR Hines Ward Edge: Ward
Ravens QB Joe Flacco vs. Steelers S Troy Polamalu Edge: Polamalu
Ravens WR Anquan Boldin vs. Steelers CB Ike Taylor Edge: Boldin
S Dawan Landry-Head-QST
FB Le'Ron McClain-Ankle-QST
T Michael Oher-Knee-QST
DE Aaron Smith-Triceps-DBT
TE Matt Spaeth-Concussion-DBT
QB Ben Roethlisberger-Foot-QST
AFC North Standings
Team W L GB
Ravens 8 3 --
Steelers 8 3 --
Browns 4 7 4
Bengals 2 9 6
AFC North Outlook: With the Browns and Bengals mostly out of contention, the Ravens and Steelers are now fighting for the division title. If the Ravens win this week, they will take the sole lead of the top spot, which basically makes it a 2 game lead because the Ravens would control the possible tie-breaker if the teams were to end with the same record. If the Steelers win, than the Ravens will need that tie or better in order to win the division.
That's it for this week's version of my Ravens Report, see you next week and Go Ravens!!!