The Steelers face the Ravens for the second time in 3 weeks. And once again, Ben Roethlisberger won’t be starting at quarterback.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be concerned about playing the Ravens without Big Ben. But after the performances that we saw recently from Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch, I’ve been practicing Mr. Miyagi’s fire hands healing technique. I plan to use it on Ben so he can play on Sunday.
I know that it was only a movie. But at this point, I’m willing to try anything to get Big Ben on the field. So somebody find me some light bulbs.
And while you’re at it, get me a few light bulbs for Troy too. He’s supposed to be playing this week, but his calf has been so gimpy this season that I don’t trust it to make it through a complete game.
And don’t get me started on LaMarr Woodley. Or Marcus Gilbert. Or Mike Adams. Or Byron Leftwich. Maybe I should just go to Home Depot and buy all of the light bulbs that they have in stock.
Fortunately for the Steelers, running back isn’t a position that’s suffering from health problems. Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, and Jonathan Dwyer will all be suiting up for the game. And in a move that came as a surprise to me, Coach Mike Tomlin has announced that he doesn’t like the running back by committee approach. So he’s named Jonathan Dwyer as the starter on Sunday.
The Steelers should also have Willie Colon and Antonio Brown back on the field on Sunday.
They’re going to need every healthy player that they can find in order to face the Ravens in Baltimore. The Ravens have beaten the Steelers three consecutive times. And playing them in Baltimore makes things doubly tough.
Fortunately for the Steelers, the Ravens aren’t nearly as tough an opponent as they’ve been in years past. The Ravens’ once vaunted defense is now ranked 24th in the NFL.
The first time the two teams met this season, the Steelers held Baltimore to only 47 rushing yards. They also held Joe Flacco to 164 passing yards. The Ravens were completely outclassed by the Steelers. But even a dominant performance can be neutralized by mental mistakes. And that’s what did in the Steelers. The Steelers allowed the Ravens to return a punt 63 yards for a touchdown. If not for that one play, the Steelers would have left the game with a dominant win.
The Steelers now find themselves trailing the Ravens by 3 games. A loss on Sunday will drop them to 6-6 (.500), and may actually drop them below the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North. It would also be the Steelers’ sixth conference loss. That many conference losses will make it very difficult to make the playoffs.
So the Steelers are left with few options. They currently hold the last playoff seed. They have to take the rest of the season one game at a time. And that starts with beating the Ravens on Sunday.