Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Wake-up caw: It's Ravens-Steelers week
By Jamison Hensley
The Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers have battled over first place in the AFC North several times. They've played against each other in the postseason. They even fought over a trip to the Super Bowl.
The stakes aren't as high profile Sunday, when the Ravens (3-3) play at the Steelers (1-4). Neither is in first place, and neither has a winning record.
But there is still significance in one of the best rivalries in football. If the Ravens win at Pittsburgh, it would drop the Steelers to 1-5 and push them closer to the brink of giving up on the season. If the Ravens lose, they fall to 3-4 and the margin between the teams is a half-game.
Here's your Wake-up caw, which continues to touch on this rivalry:
The Baltimore Sun's Mike Preston believes the Ravens have a prime opportunity Sunday. "If the Ravens want to stick it to their old rival, they win Sunday and quash any serious attempt by Pittsburgh to climb into the title picture," Preston wrote.
Clifton Brown, of Comcast SportsNet, thinks the Ravens need to kick the one-win Steelers while they're down. "The Steelers still have five games left against teams from the AFC North. They have not packed it in – yet," Brown wrote. "The Steelers are on the ropes, but the Ravens have a chance to deliver a knockout punch Sunday. They can’t afford to waste it."
The Ravens have averaged just 52 yards of total offense in first quarters this season, according to The Baltimore Sun. Of their 17 first-quarter drives, the Ravens have gone three-and-out on nine of them. "We've got to start faster, obviously," right guard Marshal Yanda said. "It seems like every time we go in at half, we're not happy at all."
The Ravens scored 17 first-half points on offense against the Denver Broncos in Week 1. In the five games since, Baltimore has scored on five of 35 first-half possessions, according to the Carroll County (Md.) Times. Only one of those one finished with a touchdown.
The Ravens were very predictable in the first quarter. According to The Press Box, the Ravens ran the ball four times on five first-down plays, gaining no yards. "I always feel like we can mix it up a little bit more on first and second down just to get everybody going," quarterback Joe Flacco said.
New Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe wasn't totally satisfied with the first start for his new team. “I feel like I played solid, but I had one play at the end of the first half where I took a bad set and the guy was able to strip the ball from Joe and that set up the score,” Monroe told the team's website. “You never want that to happen.”