Scouting report

September 19, 1999|By Mike Preston

Ravens run offense vs. Steelers run defense EDGE - STEELERS

The Ravens had some success last week against the Rams, but coach Brian Billick may have moved away from the running game too soon. The Ravens' inside line -- guards Jeff Blackshear and Everett Lindsay and center Jeff Mitchell -- needs to have a solid game against nose tackle Joel Steed and linebackers Levon Kirkland and Earl Holmes. Right offensive tackle Harry Swayne also needs to step up his game from a week ago.

Ravens pass offense vs. Steelers pass defense EDGE - EVEN

If the Steelers have a weakness on defense, it's at the cornerback position with Chad Scott and Dewayne Washington. The Ravens should be able to challenge the duo and get a couple of big plays, especially in the middle of the field against safeties Lee Flowers and Travis Davis. The key will be pass protection and how well the Ravens handle the Steelers' blitzes.

Steelers run offense vs. Ravens run defense EDGE - RAVENS

The Ravens have handled the Steelers up front recently and shouldn't have much of a problem today because the Steelers' offensive line isn't as good as in the past. Defensive tackles Larry Webster and Tony Siragusa have to slow down center Dermontti Dawson enough to keep him off middle linebacker Ray Lewis. Strong-side linebackers Peter Boulware and Cornell Brown have to contain Mark Bruener, who holds as well as any tight end in the league.

Steelers pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense EDGE - STEELERS

Courtney Hawkins and Hines Ward are capable receivers, and the Steelers' three- and four-receiver packages will give the Ravens problems. If the Ravens can get pressure on quarterback Kordell Stewart, then he becomes the equalizer because of his propensity to self-destruct.

Special teams EDGE - STEELERS

The Ravens' Kyle Richardson and Steelers' Josh Miller are both good punters, but the Ravens have an edge with Matt Stover at kicker compared to rookie Kris Brown. The Ravens have an exciting punt-return specialist in Jermaine Lewis, but their coverage unit has been below par. Steelers kick returner Will Blackwell could have a big day.

Intangibles EDGE - RAVENS

The Ravens are opening at home and the crowd should give them the emotional lift they lacked last Sunday. Plus, the team was embarrassed after that game. Pittsburgh, however, has confidence with a 5-1 advantage over the Ravens in the series.

Prediction EDGE - STEELERS

Bill Cowher's act of running out on the field kissing and hugging his players and then mugging for the cameras gets old, but he'll do it a lot today when the Steelers beat the Ravens, 25-10.

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