Ravens At Steelers

Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, 1 p.m., chs. 13, 9

November 04, 2001


Ravens rushing vs. Steelers run defense -- STEELERS

With running back Terry Allen nursing a sprained left ankle, backup Jason Brookins is expected to make his second NFL start. He showed power in gaining 82 yards against Jacksonville, but the Steelers will swarm upon him. Brookins can't hesitate against a Pittsburgh 3-4 defense driven by speedy linebackers. Slow developing plays have been eaten up by the Steelers, who have held Eddie George and Warrick Dunn under 31 yards the past two weeks.

Ravens passing vs. Steelers pass defense -- STEELERS

The Steelers are leading the NFL in sacks, averaging one every eight pass plays. That's an area of concern for the Ravens, who have allowed 12 the past two games. Ravens quarterback Elvis Grbac has returned to practice despite bruised ribs, but he would be an inviting target for the blitz-happy Steelers. The Ravens are planning to go with backup Randall Cunningham, who offers more elusiveness. The Steelers' pass defense ranks second in the NFL, holding five of its six opponents under 200 yards passing.

Steelers rushing vs. Ravens run defense -- RAVENS

This matches the NFL's top run defense against the top-ranked ground attack. The Ravens lead the league in rush defense (65.7 yards per game) and average per carry (2.7). The Steelers' offense revolves around running back Jerome Bettis, who is averaging 102 yards per game. But Bettis has not been able to crack 65 yards against the Ravens since 1997. While Pittsburgh's offensive front has been mauling teams, its interior line - left guard Alan Faneca, center Jeff Hartings and right guard Rich Tylski - will face its biggest challenge in Ravens tackles Sam Adams and Tony Siragusa.

Steelers passing vs. Ravens pass defense -- RAVENS

Pittsburgh quarterback Kordell Stewart can hurt the Ravens more with his legs than his arm. Pittsburgh, which ranks second-to-last in passing, is managing a paltry 151 yards in the air. Stewart, though, is 6-0 against the Ravens. In his only start against the Ravens last year, he threw for only 133 yards, but that included a 45-yard TD pass to Hines Ward in a 9-6 win. Although still susceptible to big plays, the Ravens have the eighth-ranked pass defense.

Special teams -- RAVENS

The Ravens have the edge in every category except kickoff coverage, which received a much-needed boost last Sunday with Danny Kight's three touchbacks. Ravens punter Kyle Richardson is tied for the AFC lead with 15 kicks inside the 20-yard line, and kicker Matt Stover has connected on 11 straight field-goal attempts. Steelers kicker Kris Brown has seven field goals of 40 yards or longer. Pittsburgh's punt coverage is allowing 11.8 yards per return, which is 24th in the league.

Intangibles -- STEELERS

The Ravens have lacked focus on the road, where they are 1-3 this season. Those trips have been littered with mistakes, as 14 turnovers have led to 52 points. The Steelers are on a short week after demolishing Tennessee on Monday night, but they have had this game against the defending champions circled for weeks. The Ravens are 13-2 in November and December under Brian Billick.

Prediction -- STEELERS

Road trips bring out the turnovers in the Ravens. In a game that will be dominated by the league's top two defenses, mistakes - not Bettis - will cost the Ravens in the end. Where has that Super Bowl swagger gone? Steelers, 12-10. - Jamison Hensley

Inside slant

Ravens scout George Kokinis sizes up the Steelers:

Strength:Linebackers. They have recorded 12 of the team's 24 sacks. They try to beat you with speed, and all tackle well. Their rookie inside linebacker, Kendrell Bell, is extremely fast, has a great motor and flies to the football. The other inside linebacker, Earl Holmes, uses his experience to always be in the right position and the right hole.

Weakness:Speed on of- fense. Their offense is built on power from running back Jerome Bettis to the offensive line. Whereas some teams may have three burners at wide-out, Pittsburgh has a variety of different receivers. Hines Ward is a great athlete who gets separation by setting up his routes. Plaxico Burress' game is more height than speed. And Bobby Shaw is a size guy who uses strength.

Matchup to watch:Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa vs. Pittsburgh center Jeff Hartings. Hartings is their big free-agent pickup, and Siragusa always plays well in Pittsburgh. While Siragusa can stand up to almost everey double team he faces, this will probably be his hardest test with Hartings and Alan Faneca, the Steelers' 6-foot-4, 300-pound left guard.


Ravens offense

WR 87 Qadry Ismail

LT 75 Jonathan Ogden

LG 64 Edwin Mulitalo

C 62 Mike Flynn

RG 66 Bennie Anderson

RT 77 Kipp Vickers

TE 82 Shannon Sharpe

WR 89 Travis Taylor

QB 1 Randall Cunningham

RB 44 Jason Brookins

FB 32 Sam Gash

Steelers defense

DE 91 Aaron Smith

NT 96 Kendrick Clancy

DE 67 Kimo von Oelhoffen

OLB 92 Jason Gildon

ILB 50 Earl Holmes

ILB 97 Kendrell Bell

OLB 55 Joey Porter

LCB 30 Chad Scott

RCB 20 Dewayne Washington

FS 27 Brent Alexander

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