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Steelers defenders looking forward to rematch vs. Ravens

Given their own need to win this game to simply perhaps stay alive in the AFC playoff race, professional pride also is on the line when the Steelers face the Ravens in Baltimore Sunday night.

The Ravens (10-5) dominated the line of scrimmage with their offensive line against the Steelers (7-8) in their 16-14 win in Pittsburgh Dec. 11, rushing for 215 yards.

It's not something that has sat well for the Steelers in the days and weeks since. And they'll get an opportunity Sunday night at M&T Bank Stadium to do something about it.

"It's games like that when you take a lot of pride (in your job), when they line up and we know what they're going to do, we take a lot of pride in stopping that. We didn't do that," said Steelers nose tackle Tyson Alualu. "We're looking forward to this opportunity to try and get that done and let the chips fall where they may."

The chips most certainly didn't fall in favor of the Steelers in the first matchup.

Running back J.K. Dobbins was activated off injured reserve the day before that game and rushed for 120 yards on 15 carries. Gus Edwards added 66 yards on 13 rushing attempts, and the Ravens ran out the clock on the Steelers after getting the ball back with 2:24 remaining in the game, picking up a first down running the ball.

"We didn't get off blocks as a group. It's 16-14 and to end the game, they need to win three downs. We didn't win those three downs and they were able to run the clock out," said Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward. "That weighs on me more than anything. We didn't give our offense a chance to go down there and win it."

The Steelers have allowed just 21 and 58 yards rushing in their two games since, shutting down Carolina's offense and Las Vegas' rushing attack in back-to-back games.

The Ravens, meanwhile, have rushed for 198 and 184 yards in their two games since beating the Steelers, going 1-1 in those contests.

But just because they ran the ball effectively against the Steelers in the first meeting doesn't mean the Ravens will do so again in this game.

"We know we have to play better than we did the last time," Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. "They beat us at the line of scrimmage. Schematically, we'll obviously try to do some different things, as well. The most important thing, forget the scheme, we just have to play better. I think they won that battle. 

"Overall, over the course of the year, our guys have been playing well. We had a bad game. They're good at what they do. When that meets in the middle like that, you have what happened to us."

The Ravens certainly have confidence in what they do. They're averaging 166 rushing yards per game, which ranks second in the NFL. And Dobbins has averaged 5.7 yards per carry this season, while Edwards is at 5.2 yards per attempt.

• Dale Lolley is co-host of "SNR Drive" on Steelers Nation Radio. Subscribe to the podcast here: Apple Podcast | iHeart Podcast

But the Raiders' Josh Jacobs, the NFL's leading rusher, entered last week's 13-10 win by the Steelers averaging over 5 yards per carry, as well. The Steelers limited him to 2.9 yards per carry.

For the season, they're allowing 105.6 yards rushing per game, the sixth-best mark in the NFL.

"One of the things we did, the guys did a really good job up front of attacking blocks and getting off blocks and not letting the running back get started," Austin said. "That caused them to throw and we did a good job on the back end of mixing up our looks and coverages and not allowing (Davante Adams) to get started."

The Ravens don't have a receiver as accomplished as Adams, whose 88 receptions for 1,290 yards and 12 scores eclipses the season totals for the combined group of wide receivers Baltimore has available for this game. In fact, the Ravens rarely throw the ball at all. In the past three games with Tyler Huntley at quarterback in place of an injured Lamar Jackson, they've averaged 111.6 passing yards per game.

That included just 94 passing yards in the win over the Steelers.

The Steelers know that even if they hold the Ravens without a single passing yard, if they give up more than 200 yards on the ground again, it might not matter.

That's why they're anxious for the rematch to show that perhaps that game was just a bad day at the office.

Their professional pride depends on it.

"That two-headed monster of Dobbins and Edwards really do a good job of falling forward with that big offensive line," said Heyward. "We're looking forward to attacking it."