9:00 PM ET, October 31, 2005
Baltimore (2-4) at Pittsburgh (4-2), Monday 9:00 pm EST
PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- When the Monday night schedule came out, the matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens looked be a game that could go a long way at deciding the AFC North Division.
While the Steelers have held up their end, the Ravens have been one of the NFL's biggest disappointments and are in desperate need of a victory.
Of course, the Ravens' problems could be directly linked to their offense, which is averaging a league-low 11.5 points. Baltimore has been held to one offensive touchdown in its last two games and has scored at least 17 points just once in six contests overall.
Replacing the injured Kyle Boller at quarterback, Anthony Wright has offered no big plays in the passing game. He has completed 62.5 percent of his passes for five touchdowns with seven interceptions.
It also has been a struggle for Jamal Lewis, who has looked nothing like the back who rushed for 2,066 yards in 2003. He has gained 326 yards on 113 yards for a lowly 2.9 average.
Lewis managed just 34 yards on 15 attempts in last week's 10-6 loss to the Chicago Bears. He has carried 39 times for 93 yards in his last two games.
In addition to their offensive problems, the Ravens have shown a complete lack of discipline. They have been penalized 43 times for 344 yards in their last three games.
The offensive troubles may start spilling over to the defensive side of the ball. Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed missed last week's game with a high ankle sprain and is unlikely to play this week. Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis also is expected to miss the game with a hamstring injury.
Last week, the Steelers showed they aren't ready to give up their division title as they posted an impressive 27-13 victory at Cincinnati.
With Ben Roethlisberger still recovering from a knee injury that forced him to miss a game, the Steelers relied on their running game, which produced 221 yards. Willie Parker led the way with 131 yards and a touchdown.
Roethlisberger completed 9-of-14 passes for 93 yards with two touchdowns and an interception last week.
Roethlisberger has the Ravens to thank for him getting the starting job. In September 2004, the Ravens knocked out former starter Tommy Maddox with an elbow injury, leaving the job to Roethlisberger, who has gone 17-1 as a starter during the regular season.
After the Ravens posted a 30-13 victory in the first meeting last season, the Steelers returned the favor here with a 20-7 triumph on December 26.
In the meeting here, Roethlisberger was sent to the sidelines in the third quarter with a left rib injury. He went 14-of-19 for 221 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
Matchup to watch: Ravens tight end Todd Heap, who had seven catches for 71 yards last week, against strong safety Troy Polamalu.
Series: Pittsburgh leads, 12-6, with five wins in the last seven meetings.
Next week: Baltimore hosts Cincinnati, November 6 Pittsburgh visits Green Bay, November 6
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Teams counting on running games
Monday Night Football in Week 8 pits two hard-nosed, physical organizations that outright can't stand one another. Both of these teams are absolutely content when grinding it out on the ground and chewing up time off the clock offensively in order to put their respective defenses and special teams units in position to win the game. The Steelers executed that blueprint to perfection last week when 221 of their 304 total yards on offense cam from Willie Parker, Jerome Bettis and the running attack in a 27-13 win at Cincinnati.
The Ravens, on the other hand, continue to sputter on offense and have yet to find a team identity in 2005 -- and it's driving MLB Ray Lewis (who will miss the game with a thigh injury) mad. RB Jamal Lewis has shown very little explosiveness to this point and QB Anthony Wright is not capable of carrying this unit via the air. It won't get any easier for Jamal Lewis and the Ravens' offensive line next week, as they attempt to get on track versus the NFL's sixth-ranked run defense. If Jamal does not improve on the 2.3 yards-per-carry average he turned in against the Bears last Sunday, the Steelers will run away with it in the second half.
Recent Blog Posts
|Avg Points Allowed||17.1||16.3|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||BAL|
|Rush Yds Allowed||BAL|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Pittsburgh leads 7-4|
|Dec 26, 2004||BAL 7, @PIT 20|
|Sep 19, 2004||BAL 30, PIT 13|
|Dec 28, 2003||BAL 13, PIT 10|
|Sep 7, 2003||BAL 15, @PIT 34|
|Dec 29, 2002||BAL 31, @PIT 34|
|Oct 27, 2002||BAL 18, PIT 31|
|Jan 20, 2002||BAL 10, @PIT 27|
|Dec 16, 2001||BAL 21, PIT 26|
|Nov 4, 2001||BAL 13, @PIT 10|