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Countdown: Steelers at Ravens

Posted Nov 27, 2013

PITTSBURGH STEELERS VS. BALTIMORE RAVENS
Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013
M&T Bank Stadium
8:30 p.m.; NBC

PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB JOE FLACCO
He’s on pace to throw for 3,988 yards this season, which would eclipse the career-high 3,817 yards Flacco threw for in 2012, despite having thrown as many interceptions (14) as touchdown passes (14) in 2013. He’s also used to winning games, having produced 59 wins in the regular season since 2008 (trailing only Drew Brees’ 61 since then). Flacco has authored 17 wins (including the postseason) via game-deciding drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. Two of those occurred this season (Oct. 6 at Miami, Nov. 10. against Cincinnati) and three have come at the Steelers’ expense (in 2009, 2010 and 2011).

OLB TERRELL SUGGS
Since entering the NFL in 2003, Suggs ranks seventh among active players with 93.5 sacks. His nine sacks this season include a streak during which Suggs collected at least one in five consecutive games (Sept. 5-Oct. 6). Suggs is the Ravens’ all-time leader in sacks and forced fumbles (29) and ranks second in team history in fumble recoveries with 12 (Ray Lewis leads with 20). Suggs’ 14.5 sacks against the Steelers rank just behind the 15 he’s registered against the Browns. Including playoff games Suggs has 19.5 career sacks against Pittsburgh.   

ABOUT THE RAVENS
OVERVIEW
The Ravens opened on the road as the defending Super Bowl champions and got blasted out of Denver, 49-27. They’ve gone 5-5 since, including a three-game losing streak from Oct. 13-Nov. 3 that was snapped via a 20-17 overtime win over Cincinnati on Nov. 10. Baltimore is 5-1 at home, including last Sunday’s 19-3 victory over the Jets. The Ravens have won 28 of the last 32 regular season home games under Coach John Harbaugh. Baltimore has won eight of its last nine AFC North home games and has a record of 13-2 at home when the temperature at kickoff is below 40 degrees. The Ravens have won 13 of the last 14 such games (the Steelers’ 13-10 victory on Dec. 5, 2010 is the exception in that span). Baltimore is tied for 20th in turnover ratio with a minus-3.   

THE RAVENS’ OFFENSE
Baltimore is No. 29 in total offense (27th rushing, 19th passing). The Ravens are averaging just 2.9 yards per rush, as is RB Ray Rice (156 carries, 450 rushing yards). Rice has four of Baltimore’s six rushing touchdowns. WR Marlon Brown has caught five of Flacco’s 14 TD passes. Eugene Moore took over at LT for Bryant McKinnie on Oct. 13, and A.Q. Shipley replaced LG Kelechi Osemele on Nov. 3. The Ravens have converted 35.6 percent of their third downs (19th in the NFL) and 51.4 percent of their red zone opportunities into touchdowns (tied for 20th)       

THE RAVENS’ DEFENSE
Baltimore is No. 10 in total defense (11th rushing, 11th passing). OLB Elvis Dumervil (9.5) and Suggs (9) have combined for 18.5 of Baltimore’s 37 sacks (tied for first in the NFL). Since surrendering 49 points at Denver the Ravens have allowed an average of 16.6 points per game. Baltimore has allowed 11 touchdowns on defense since the Denver game (and two on interception returns). The Ravens have allowed opponents to score touchdowns on 31 percent of their red zone opportunities (No. 1 in the NFL). They’re No. 2 in opponents’ third-down conversions at 31.1 percent. Baltimore has permitted one rushing touchdown this season.    

THE RAVENS’ SPECIAL TEAMS
Baltimore’s 15.6-yard average per punt return leads the NFL. WR Tandon Doss has an 82-yard punt return for a TD. K Justin Tucker is 24-for-26 on field goals, including 4-for-5 from 50-plus yards, and has made 22 in a row. Tucker has game-winners against Miami (44 yards) and Cincinnati (46 yards) this season.

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