The Ravens open the 2011 season right where they left off: against vaunted rival the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Here's a look at the elements of the game that could cause it to tilt.
Three things that need to go right for the Ravens …
1. Successfully throw the ball. In three of the Steelers’ last four losses last season, including the Super Bowl, quarterbacks passed for over 300 yards and threw at least two touchdowns against them. So, Ravens need to put the ball in the hands of Joe Flacco.
2. Don’t let Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace get behind the secondary. The speedy wide receiver led the NFL with seven 100-yard receiving games last season. He is also a threat to score every time he touches the ball.
3. Terrell Suggs continues to torment Ben Roethlisberger. The Ravens linebacker has been one of the few players who can consistently take down the lumbering quarterback. Suggs has sacked Ben Roethlisberger 12.5 times (including playoffs) which is the most any NFL defender has dropped the Steelers quarterback.
Three things that can go wrong for the Ravens …
1. Ravens turn the ball over. Too many times, the Ravens have made it easy for Pittsburgh to come back. They’ve committed 15 turnovers in the past six meetings.
2. Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher fail to protect Flacco. The Steelers bring extreme pressure of the edge. LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison have combined for 12 ½ sacks against the Ravens in the past three seasons.3. Struggle to finish in the fourth quarter.
The Ravens’ games against the Steelers usually come down to the final minutes. The Ravens had their problems finishing off teams last season, giving up fourth-quarter leads nine times.