Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Baltimore Ravens [Print without images]

Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Can Ravens beat a top-tier quarterback?

By Jamison Hensley

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- A victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night would improve the Baltimore Ravens' playoff hopes and help them avoid getting swept by their AFC North rival.

It would also represent the Ravens' first win over a top-tier quarterback.

The Ravens' five victories this season have come against quarterbacks whose passer ratings are ranked 20th or worse: the Cleveland Browns' Brandon Weeden (33rd in passer rating), the Houston Texans' Matt Schaub (28th), the Miami Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill (25th), the Cincinnati Bengals' Andy Dalton (20th) and the New York Jets' Geno Smith (34th).

Two of those quarterbacks lost their jobs this season (Weeden and Schaub) and another is on the brink of getting benched (Smith). These quarterbacks have totaled for 57 touchdowns and 64 interceptions this season. The combined passer rating is 75.0. To put that in perspective, the often-criticized Joe Flacco has a 76.8 passer rating.

The Ravens have gone against a top-10 quarterback twice and lost both times. Baltimore fell to Peyton Manning in the season opener and came up short against Ben Roethlisberger last month. In each of those games, the Ravens allowed Manning and Roethlisberger to post passer ratings over 100. In fact, Manning tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes.

Thanksgiving night represents another shot to knock off a top quarterback with Roethlisberger coming to town.

"We're going to be ready for Ben," safety James Ihedigbo said. "He's a great quarterback, he can break tackles and he can make big-time throws. But we have a great front four, a great group of linebackers and a great secondary. We'll be ready."

Does a defense measure itself against top-tier quarterbacks?

“No. At the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is the win and the loss," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "You can’t really measure yourself by [that], because when we played a top quarterback in Week 1, it didn’t work out so well for us. But if we had got down on ourselves, who knows? We would probably be packing it up, ready to go home. But we knew that it was just one game. When you play elite quarterbacks, you do want to play good and firm on defense. That’s just the No. 1 thing. If we score more points than them, then we win.”