Ravens defense presents a challenge

If you look at it on paper, the Ravens and Steelers defenses are evenly matched, with Baltimore the top-ranked defense in the NFL and the Steelers second.

But numbers can be deceiving, particularly to Coach Mike Tomlin.

"I am not ready to at least put us in the conversation with the Ravens' defense," said Tomlin. "We are not even close to doing what they are doing right now. Maybe statistically, but the way they are generating splash plays sets them apart."

The Ravens have created 16 turnovers this season, with seven interceptions and nine fumble recoveries. The Steelers have not been able to generate turnovers in that manner through eight games, with only three, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

"They are slaying people and we are a part of that," said Tomlin. "We contributed six or seven of those turnovers to that tally. They are playing extremely fast, they are really talented, they know what they are doing and they are very rarely out of place. They have uniquely talented people at every level of their defense. They are the best in the world right now."

The loss to the Ravens in week one of the season might still be a sore spot for some Steelers players, but Tomlin doesn't think they need that as motivation this week.

"We have enough motivating us this week," said Tomlin. "We are a 6-2 team playing a 5-2 team for the AFC North lead. We are at the turn. These things are starting to get some clarity. We have a little winning streak going here. We want that to continue.

"There's enough to motivate you for this game. We are living in the here-and-now. There are awesome challenges this week. So we don't have to manufacture anything in regards to that."

The offensive game plan against the Patriots, which allowed for Ben Roethlisberger to throw the ball 50 times, worked like magic but it doesn't mean the Steelers will go back to that same plan this week against the Ravens.

The Patriots are ranked 32nd in the NFL against the pass, while the Ravens are third.

"Every plan is specific to the opponent," said Tomlin. "It's just how it is. We are not going to drop back and throw the ball 50 times versus the Baltimore Ravens because you are going to get sacked, fumble and intercepted. That's what I mean when I say we are going to do what it is week-to-week that allows us to win. It would be naïve to suggest we are going to take that formula into each and every stadium. That's not the case."

Rookie cornerback Cortez Allen has played well on special teams all season and that has led to him getting more reps in defensive packages.

"I think first and foremost he is a tough guy to get away from on the practice field," said Tomlin. "Usually that is always the thing that kind of grabs our attention, guys that distinguish themselves on service teams. He has done that and played well in special teams.

"That formula usually leads us to giving them defensive opportunities or offensive opportunities and that has been the case with him and he has done a nice job thus far."

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