The timing couldn’t have been worse for the Baltimore Ravens, as they need to forget about the legal mess they might be in and focus on playing after only four days of rest since a bad opening week loss, facing a Pittsburgh Steelers team that came through with a victory to open the season, but know there’s a lot that needs improving.
One thing that’s almost guaranteed? It’s going to be a close game. The two games between the teams last season were decided by a total of five points. In nine of the last 10 meetings between the two they were only three points or less apart. The Ravens have won four of the last six in this rivalry, which is bound to produce another physical game that should go down to the wire.
The Ravens don’t have Ray Rice anymore – it’s not just for two games, but for the entire season, and forever actually. They’ll have to do with what’s available to them. Things didn’t go well for Bernard Pierce who fumbled a ball and finished with just six carries for 14 yards as the Ravens gained just 23 yards on nine carries in the first half. Things got better when Justin Forsett carried the ball, but running wasn’t the main reason the Ravens lost in week 1.
Dropping the ball a league high six times was the bigger issue. Flacco finished with 35-of-62 for 345 yards, but his intended receivers dropped the ball six times. Flacco wasn’t consistent in his delivery and a lot of the incompletions came from simply throwing badly. However, the Ravens blew some big opportunities, including holding the lead shortly before conceding a fourth quarter touchdown against the Bengals, that cost them the game.
The Steelers came away with a win against the Browns, but no one was pleased with how it came down. After leading 27-3 at half time, they allowed the Browns to score 24 unanswered points. Pittsburgh won the game on a time-expiring field goal, but the way their defense couldn’t slow down Brian Hoyer while Ben Roethlisberger couldn’t get any momentum going in the second half has to be a concern. He threw for 278 yards in the first half but was barely making a positive impact in the second one.
Le’Veon Bell had a big game against the Browns and did quite well against the Ravens last season, averaging 83 yards per game in the two collisions. Considering how poorly the Ravens can do on some days when trying to force the run game, perhaps the team with the ability to control the clock in this game through their ground attack will set itself up more comfortably for a win, which for the Ravens feels like a must considering how the division started out.