Forget the Ravens-Steelers rivalry---this game is survival of the fittest...

Forget the Ravens-Steelers rivalry---this game is survival of the fittest...

Ravens

Forget the Ravens-Steelers rivalry---this game is survival of the fittest...

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STEELERS VS. RAVENS

Sunday, November 6 | 1:00 pm EST
M&T Bank Stadium
CBS/WJZ-TV (Ch. 13)
98 Rock | WBAL-1090 AM

With the Steelers struggling at 4-3 so far this season, and with the Ravens hanging on by a thread  at 3-4 after a 4-game losing streak, neither team is in a position to crow about their traditional AFC North rivalry.

Best news in a while for the Ravens heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Steelers is they will have two starters back on their offensive line. With all-pro RG Marshal Yanda and rookie LT Ronnie Stanley both back in gear, maybe the Ravens’ struggling offense turns things around on Sunday.

“Obviously, in the NFL, it all starts up front winning the line of scrimmage,” Yanda said Wednesday.

“When we do that we usually have success. When we don’t do that and don’t protect the quarterback, things usually don’t go our way. It starts up front every week, especially in our division, and we understand that for sure.”

The first thing you might think is a stronger O-Line bodes well for the Ravens’ getting some kind of solid running game going—it’s been a rough road to hoe lately as far as establishing a consistent running game, which QB Joe Flacco needs to base his play-action passing upon. Without it, Joe is getting pummeled back there and unable to set his feet to deliver most of his designed passes.

The Ravens O-Line has surrendered 27 QB hits and nine sacks over the last four weeks.

Flacco hasn’t handled pressure well so far this season. He is ranked No. 23 in the NFL in quarterback rating when under pressure (54.1), according to Pro Football Focus. He’s been under pressure the 11th-most times in the league, on 36.3 percent of his dropbacks.

“No matter what, protecting the quarterback is very important,” Yanda said. “Obviously, we haven’t been getting that done as well as we would have liked. We’re excited about the challenge. We’re excited about keeping him clean and letting him play his game.”

The Steelers may be susceptible to the run. New England’s LeGarrette Blount ran for 127 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries in Week 7. Miami’s Jay Ajayi gained 204 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries the week before.

“They know that we’re going to come in and try to run the ball,” Yanda said. “We understand that they’re going to be ready for us, but that’s us wining our battles up front. Sometimes it’s not about them knowing the play, it’s about us beating our guys one-on-one and winning the block physically.”

Besides Yanda and Stanley, linebackers C.J. Mosley (hamstring) and Terrell Suggs (biceps) and cornerback Shareece Wright are also expected to play against Pittsburgh.

Mosley was limited in practice as the Ravens work him back to full speed. Wright was also a limited participant. “With a hamstring, there’s nothing you can do, you just have to be patient with it because if you pull it again, it makes the wait even longer,” Mosley said.  “On the field I just had to let it go, and it felt good.”

The Ravens are fully preparing to see Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the field Sunday. Suggs told reporters “do not fall for that,” when asked about the possibility of Roethlisberger missing the game because of a knee injury.

Roethlisberger was a limited participant in practice just two weeks after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus. The Steelers have not made an announcement either way regarding their starting quarterback’s status for this weekend.

“We’re going to take it one day at a time,”Roethlisberger said. “I don’t know anything new. We’ll go out today and see how it feels.”

The Steelers don’t have other major injury concerns. Backup center Cody Wallace (knee) missed practice and running back De’Angelo Williams (knee) was limited. Wide receivers Antonio Brown (hip) and Markus Wheaton (shoulder), left tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle) and defensive end Cameron Heyward (hamstring) were all full participants.

 

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