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Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Preview

Steelers

Welcome to the most comprehensive Pittsburgh Steelers Game Day Preview on the internet! NGSC Sports is where you come to find everything you need to know about the Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich (@PghSportsNation) brings you inside the huddle for both teams, providing all fans with a game story, Steelers keys to success, score prediction, game information, a detailed breakdown of each team, individual stats, team stats, and team injury reports. Heck, you’ll even know the weather at kickoff! The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!

 

Steelers intend to go out fighting if that’s how the odds end up

Devlin “Duck” Hodges was the toast of the town when he started off 3-0 for the Steelers. The quarterback of Samford, not to be confused with Stanford, was an undrafted free agent, cut by the team at the end of training camp, only to be resigned after the team traded Josh Dobbs away.

No one ever dreamed that Hodges would see one play this year, let alone almost leading the team to a playoff spot after Ben Roethlisberger was injured in week two, and Mason Rudolph suffered not one, but two different injuries that lead to Hodges manning the Pittsburgh offense.

He has done about as good as anyone could’ve written for a rags to riches Hollywood-esque style story as the Steelers quarterback. He doesn’t have the greatest arm, but what he lacked in pure talent, was offset by a cool presence in the pocket and a brash confidence that would make any Southerner proud.

Since the Buffalo Bills game, Hodges has hit a wall, throwing just one touchdown and six interceptions. He has also been sacked seven times in the last two games.

“Maybe I was trying to force a ball a little bit instead of what they’re giving me,” Duck Hodges said about his last two games. “I have to take a step back a little bit and go back to how I was playing those first couple games and taking what the defense gives me.

“I’ve got all the confidence in the world in myself and my guys. Now, we just have to go out and do it.”

If the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7) are to make the playoffs, they’ll need to beat their rivals in Baltimore (13-2) and then hope Houston finds a way to take care of Tennessee. The Texans may or may not have anything to play for depending on the outcome of the Chiefs-Chargers game at 1:00 p.m. this Sunday afternoon.

First, to beat a team that has already wrapped up the AFC #1 seed, and will be resting several key starters, including probable MVP Lamar Jackson, the Steelers will need their offense, namely their quarterback, to score more than just one offensive touchdown, something Pittsburgh has done in seven out the last eight games.

His teammates and coaches still believe he can right the ship and create the storybook ending. They want the Duck that played aggressive and without fear.

“Yeah, you can be aggressive — just throw it to the right person,” said Steelers WR Juju Smith-Schuster with a smile.

“That’s it. ‘Duck, c’mon man, we’re not playing duck-duck-goose. Throw it to the right person, Duck. Let’s get it.’”

Smith-Schuster is looking to reestablish himself in the passing game after a down season racked with injuries. Like Hodges, Juju has one game left to make something of the 2019 season.

“I would expect that he would eliminate any mistakes that he’s made, and whatever mistake he makes in this game would be a new one,” offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner said Thursday. “He’s been pretty good at that, minus a handful of balls that just could have been in other places (or when he) could have been more protective with the football. As far as game management and some of the things he’s done with protection and learning the system, he’s done really well.”

 

Game Prediction

There’s not much to say. It’s now or never for the Steelers, and even then, it may not be enough to get into the playoffs.

They could’ve easily tossed in the white towel and played for a top draft pick, but the team traded for Minkah Fitzpatrick, turning a good defense into a great one, and giving the team a fighting chance every week.

It was incredible to see them at 8-5, getting a shot at the #5 seed, but turnovers and lack of an offense finally caught up to this team the last two weeks. Now it is what it is, and no matter what happens this Sunday, the players, coaches, and fans can hold their heads high and be proud of a team that stared adversity in the face and fought to the bitter end. They never once quit or complained about the situation they were placed in.

If they’re going down, they’re going down fighting.

Steelers 20 Ravens 13

Pittsburgh’s Key’s to Success

Offense

  1. Play to win, not to lose… It’s do or die. Time to leave it all out on the field. If Duck Hodges starts tossing INT’s, then Paxton Lynch should get a look. Run Benny Snell and utilize Jaylen Samuels to his full potential.
  2. No turnovers… It’s been Duck’s biggest problem the past two games. He has to be smart with his throws. He displayed some of the talent we all saw when he was forced back into action when Mason Rudolph was injured.
  3. Receivers need a big game: Duck, or Lynch, will need to be confident, and that means their receivers making plays and securing the ball. Time for James Washington, Diontae Johnson, and Juju Smith-Schuster to give it their all.

Defense

  1. Bring the heat to RGIII… Griffin has barely played, so facing a Steelers defense when they are playing like they can will likely force a few turnovers that could change the fortunes of this game and aid the offense for a few short drives.
  2. Contain the running game of Gus Edwards and Justice Hill… Bottle up the Ravens run game and force RGIII to beat you through the air. Minkah Fitzpatrick should be salivating.

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Game Information

Venue: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD.

Field: Bermuda Grass

Game-time: Sunday, December 29th, at 4:25 pm ET

TV: CBS (Local on KDKA-TV)

  • Announcers: Ian Eagle (play-by-play) Dan Fouts (analyst) Evan Washburn (reporter)

Local radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE & WBGG 970 AM

  • Announcers: Rob King (play-by-play) Tunch Ilkin (analyst) Craig Wolfley (sideline) Missi Matthews (sideline)

Internet broadcast: Steelers Nation Radio (SNR) on Steelers.com

Weather at kickoff: Sunny and 43. Winds WSW 5-10 MPH.

Vegas line: Pittsburgh -2.5

NFL Standings / NFL Scoreboard

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Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens History

Series history: Began in 1996

Steelers are 28-23 overall vs Ravens

  • At home: 17-11
  • On the road: 11-12
  • Postseason: 3-1
  • Streak: Ravens won the last game.
  • Last regular-season meeting: Ravens Win, 26-23 (OT) (Oct. 6, 2018)
  • Last postseason meeting: Ravens Win, 30-17 (Jan. 3, 2015 AFC Wild Card Game

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Pittsburgh Steelers

Overall record: 8-7

Head coach: Mike Tomlin (13th Season with Steelers)

  • Overall regular-season record: 133-73-1 (.647)
  • Playoff record: 8-7 (Qualified for playoffs 8 times)

2019 Pittsburgh Steelers Team Roster

Steelers Team Statistics

Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 Schedule 

Last game: Jets 16 Steelers 10

 

Steelers Offense

  • Points per game: 18.6
  • Total yards per game: 298.3
  • Passing yards per game: 207.9
  • Rushing yards per game: 90.4

 

Quarterbacks

Devlin Hodges*

The former Samford quarterback had shown no fear when pressed into the starting role. He started off 3-0, but his play and decision making have plummeted the past few weeks, resulting in interception after interception.

Passing yards: 968

  • TD Passes: 5 / Interceptions: 8
  • Sacks: 13

Yards rushing: 69

  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Paxton Lynch

The former first round pick of the Broncos may get a chance to play if Hodges falters vs the Ravens.

Passing yards:0

  • TD Passes: 0 / Interceptions: 0
  • Sacks: 0

Yards rushing: 0

  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Mason Rudolph (Injured)

Passing yards: 1,765

  • TD Passes: 13 / Interceptions: 9
  • Sacks: 15

Yards rushing: 42

  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Running Backs

James Conner (Injured)

Down year after a Pro Bowl season.

Yards rushing: 464

  • Rushing TD’s: 4

Receptions: 34

  • Yards receiving: 251 / Receiving TD’s: 3

Benny Snell, Jr.

Takes over starting duties with Conner injured. Looking more confident each week. Gets better as the game goes on.

Yards rushing: 335

  • Rushing TD’s: 1

Receptions: 3

  • Yards receiving: 23 / Receiving TD’s: 0

Jaylen Samuels

An athletic player who can play several positions. Dangerous as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.

Yards rushing: 175

  • Rushing TD’s: 1

Receptions: 46

  • Yards receiving: 289 / Receiving TD’s: 1

Trey Edmunds

Good dual purpose back.

Yards rushing: 92

  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Receptions: 6

  • Yards receiving: 48 / Receiving TD’s: 0

Kerrith Whyte

Superb speed that takes defenses by surprise.

Yards rushing: 121

  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Receptions: 1

  • Yards receiving: 9 / Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Wide Receivers

Diontae Johnson*

Talented rookie who makes the most of every reception. Blessed with wicked moves in open space. Needs to be more consistent.

Receptions: 55

  • Receiving yards: 626 / Receiving TD’s: 5

James Washington*

He was ready to have a breakout season and establish himself as a big-time playmaker in the NFL. Has been the team’s best receiver with Juju out.

Receptions: 44

  • Receiving yards: 735 / Receiving TD’s: 3

Juju Smith-Schuster*

Smith-Schuster has struggled this season without Roethlisberger at the helm. Hopeful to see flashes of his old self when he returns from a knee injury.

Receptions: 40

  • Receiving yards: 546 / Receiving TD’s: 3

Deon Cain

Former Clemson Tiger has speed and talent. May be a steal from the Colts.

Receptions: 5

  • Receiving yards: 72 / Receiving TD’s: 0

Johnny Holton

Steelers deep threat, but has only one has catch.

Receptions: 3

  • Receiving yards: 21 / Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Tight Ends

Vance McDonald*

The Vanimal, when unleashed, is a sight to see. Unfortunately, he has not played up to expectations this season. Injuries have slowed him all year.

Receptions: 36

  • Receiving yards: 254
  • Receiving TD’s: 2

Nate Vannett

The Ohio State product was acquired from the Seahawks earlier this season. Best used as a blocker.

Receptions: 13

  • Receiving yards: 128
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Placekicker

Chris Boswell

Extra points: 27-27

Field goals: 28-30

  • 0-19: 1-1 / 20-29: 10-10 / 30-39: 7-7 / 40-49:  9-10 / 50+:  1-2
  • Long: 51

*Denotes Starter

 

Offensive Line

Left Tackle: Alejandro Villanueva

Left Guard: Ramon Foster

Center: B.J. Finney

Right Guard: David DeCastro

Right Tackle: Matt Feiler/Zach Banner

 

Steelers Defense (Base 3-4)

  • Points allowed:18.3
  • Total yards per game allowed: 304.1
  • Passing yards per game allowed:202.1
  • Rushing yards per game allowed:102
  • Sacks:51
  • Interceptions: 19
  • Forced fumbles: 18

 

Defensive end: Cam Heyward

Defensive tackle: Javon Hargrave/Dan McCullers

Defensive end: Tyson Alualu

Left outside linebacker: T.J. Watt

Left middle linebacker: Devin Bush/Mark Baron

Right middle linebacker: Vince Willams

Right outside linebacker: Bud Dupree

Cornerback: Joe Haden

Strong safety: Terrell Edmunds

Free safety: Minkah Fitzpatrick

Cornerback: Steven Nelson/Artie Burns

Nickle: Mike Hilton/Cameron Sutton

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Baltimore Ravens

Overall record: 13-2

Head coach: John Harbaugh (12th season with Ravens)

  • Overall regular-season record: 117-74 (.437) / 117-74 (.357) with Ravens
  • Playoff record: 0-0 (Qualified for playoffs 0 times)

2019 Baltimore Ravens roster

Baltimore Team Statistics Defensive Stats

Last game: Ravens 31 Browns 15

 

Ravens Offense

  • Points per game: 33.5
  • Total yards per game: 421.8
  • Passing yards per game: 216.9
  • Rushing yards per game: 204.9

Quarterbacks

Lamar Jackson

Passing yards: 3,127

  • TD passes: 36
  • Interceptions: 6
  • Sacks: 23

Yards rushing: 1,206

  • Rushing TD’s: 7

Robert Griffin III*

Passing yards: 129

  • TD passes: 1
  • Interceptions: 1
  • Sacks: 2

Yards rushing: 20

  • Rushing TD’s: 0

 

Running backs

Mark Ingram*

Yards rushing: 1,018

  • Rushing TD’s: 10

Receptions: 26

  • Yards receiving: 247
  • Receiving TD’s: 5

Gus Edwards

  • Yards rushing: 581
  • Rushing TD’s: 2

Receptions: 6

  • Yards receiving: 43
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Justice Hill

  • Yards rushing: 186
  • Rushing TD’s: 1

Receptions: 7

  • Yards receiving: 60
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

 

Wide Receivers

Marquise Brown*

Receptions: 44

  • Receiving yards: 569
  • Receiving TD’s: 7

Willie Snead IV* 

Receptions: 28

  • Receiving yards: 317
  • Receiving TD’s: 5

Seth Roberts

Receptions: 21

  • Receiving yards: 271
  • Receiving TD’s: 2

Myles Boykin

Receptions: 13

  • Receiving yards: 198
  • Receiving TD’s: 3

Tight Ends

Mark Andrews

Receptions: 64

  • Receiving yards: 852
  • Receiving TD’s: 10

Nick Boyle*

Receptions: 30

  • Receiving yards: 315
  • Receiving TD’s: 12

Hayden Hurst

Receptions: 28

  • Receiving yards: 314
  • Receiving TD’s: 2

Placekicker

Justin Tucker

Extra points: 55-57

FG: 24-25

  • 0-19: 0-0 / 20-29: 7-7 / 30-39: 9-9 / 40-49: 7-8 / 50+: 1-1
  • Long: 51

*Denotes Starter

 

Ravens Defense (Base 4-3)

  • Points allowed: 18.1
  • Total yards per game allowed: 309.4
  • Passing yards per game allowed: 215.9
  • Rushing yards per game allowed: 93.5
  • Sacks: 35
  • Interceptions: 13
  • Forced fumbles: 13

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Injury Report (12/27/19)

Pittsburgh

  • Out: RB James Conner (Quad), C Maurkice Pouncey (Knee)
  • Doubtful: None
  • Questionable: None

Baltimore Ravens

  • Out: RB Mark Ingram (Ankle)
  • Doubtful: None
  • Questionable: WR Marquise Brown (Illness), TE Mark Andrews (Ankle), CB Jimmy Smith (NIR), CB Marcus Peters (Chest), S Earl Thomas (NIR)

 

 

 

Author Profile

Mike DrakulichYour source for Pittsburgh sports!
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.

There's nowhere on earth that is more dedicated to its sports teams like Western Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh. The passion and pride of Pittsburgh's fan base is second to no one. From the NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA football and basketball, to W.P.I.A.L. high school sports, "The City of Champions" has it all!

As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides top notch opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania, including WPIAL High School Football.

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