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Scouting Report: Ravens, Week 14

A look at what the Steelers will be up against on Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens:


HE'S BACK:** Defensive tackle Brandon Williams missed the initial meeting between the teams, a 26-9 Steelers' victory on Oct. 1 in Baltimore. But the 6-foot-1, 340-pound run-stuffer is back, and running against the Ravens is once again problematic.

Baltimore allowed 77 yards rushing at Cincinnati and 93 against Cleveland to open the season. With Williams out, the Ravens allowed 166 rushing yards at Jacksonville, 173 against the Steelers, 108 at Oakland and 231 against the Bears.

The Vikings rushed for 169 yards against the Ravens in Williams' return on Oct. 22, but since then Baltimore hasn't allowed an opponent to rush for 100 yards in five consecutive games.

The Ravens are 6-2 with Williams in the lineup and 1-3 without him.


The Steelers prepare for the Week 14 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.

TAKE IT AWAY:** The Ravens lead the NFL with 29 takeaways (20 interceptions and nine fumble recoveries) and with a plus-14 turnover differential. The defense is No. 7 overall (16th rushing, third passing).

MANY HAPPY RETURNS: Baltimore has seven return scores this season either on special teams or defense.

NEXT MAN UP: The Ravens lost cornerback Jimmy Smith for the season (Achilles) in last Sunday's 44-20 victory over the Lions. Smith was replaced by rookie No. 1 pick Marlon Humphrey, who was picked on with regularity by Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford. Humphrey (6-0, 197) had an interception on a poorly-thrown ball under duress in the Detroit game, but he also allowed a 46-yard completion on a play included Humphrey being flagged for pass interference.

The Ravens listed Humphrey or second-year pro Maurice Canady as the starter at right cornerback opposite Brandon Carr on their depth chart for the Steelers game.


JOE COOL:** Quarterback Joe Flacco and Baltimore's No. 31 passing offense struggled mightily for the most part through the first 11 games this season (the Ravens' 5.3 yards per passing attempt was the worst in the NFL, for example). But Flacco completed 23 of 36 attempts for 269 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 105.0 against the Lions.

And he looked smooth doing it, connecting on deep balls, crossing routes and off bootlegs with timing, accuracy and apparent ease and confidence. Flacco ended up completing passes to 10 different receivers in the Detroit game. And his numbers would have been even better if not for a couple of early drops.


JEKYLL AND HYDE:** The Ravens have three shutouts on defense (the 2000 Ravens had four). They also allowed 44 points on Sept. 24 against Jacksonville. The Baltimore offense has been held under 10 points in a game twice and has scored 40 or more points twice.

SPECIAL EDITION: Punter Sam Koch was the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week last week. He's 2-for-2 passing from punt formation this season. Kicker Justin Tucker was the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month last month. Tucker is 26-for-29 on field goals (5-for-7 from 50-plus yards), with a long kick of 57.

STAT THAT MATTERS: The Ravens are 4-1 against teams with losing records through 12 games, 0-4 against teams with winning records in that span and 3-0 against teams that are 6-6 through 12 decisions.

THEY SAID IT: "We have to find a way to win the next game using all three phases. Pulling together and doing your best, really, that's what it's all about. Getting a little bit better (each week) at this time of year goes a long way. If you continue to improve in every area, just a little bit, it will pay off for us." _ Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.

"We pride ourselves on playing good football in December. (The season) hasn't been ideal to this point, but we have set ourselves up to the point where we are playing meaningful December football, and that's one of the goals at the end of the day. We're going to continue to do that, and yes (the Detroit win) late in the year versus a team that's also trying to make a push for the playoffs can definitely do a lot for our confidence." _ Flacco.

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