Steeler Nation is a world-wide army that lives and dies with the NFL franchise that calls Pittsburgh it’s home. The six-time Super Bowl champions are a team that always strives for excellence, and their fans expect nothing less in return. This is the ultimate Steelers Game Day Preview that all followers of the black and gold come to find everything they need to know about the Pittsburgh Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich (@PghSportsNation), who covers both Pitt football and the Steelers for NGSC Sports, brings you inside the huddle for both teams with a weekly game story, the Steelers offensive and defensive game plans for success, score prediction, game day information, a detailed breakdown of each team, and an up to date team injury report. Heck, you’ll even know the weather at kickoff. The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform.
Roethlisberger ready for one last battle against rival Ravens
If this Sunday afternoon happens to be Ben Roethlisberger’s final game, it couldn’t come against a better opponent than the Baltimore Ravens, whom #7 and the Steelers have had some epic battles against since Big Ben entered the league in 2004.
For the Steelers (8-7-1) to make the playoffs, they have to defeat Baltimore, and hope that Jacksonville, a 15 1/2 point underdog to Indianapolis, finds a way to beat the Colts. The Jaguars were dissected 50-10 last week vs New England.
Don’t hold your breath on that happening.
Back to Roethlisberger and one final tilt vs the Ravens, who holds an 18-10 record vs Baltimore, and would love to end it with win #19. Even though the Steelers and Ravens have played some bloodbath games, the level of respect between the teams has never been a secret.
Several now retired Ravens expressed nothing but admiration vs the guy they tried to kill, but couldn’t, every time they suited up to play.
Well, sort of…
“Ben,” former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott said, “I hate you. I’m glad you’re done.”
Scott was remembering some not so fond memories.
“He stopped me from going to the Super Bowl twice — once as a Raven and once as a Jet,” Scott said. “So I genuinely do hate him. But that’s the greatest sign of respect.”
Safety Ed Reed, one of the best ever, also chimed in.
“The dude was just a competitor, one of those ultimate competitors. Big Ben always gave them a chance,” said Reed. “Congrats on a great career and good luck after football. See ya in Canton.”
Scott finished with maybe the best compliment you’d hear from a former competitor.
“The greatest thing I could say about Ben Roethlisberger is that he played like a Raven. That’s something rare to say about an opponent, but Ben Roethlisberger would have been a great Raven.”
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh offered his thoughts going against the future HOF quarterback one last time.
“Right now, I really don’t want to go down memory lane,” Harbaugh said. “There were a lot of plays where you feel like you’d been gut-punched. He’d scramble out to the left, usually in the red zone, and find somebody open. I remember those plays. Or he’d hit somebody on the sideline 22 yards downfield, tippy-toeing out of bounds for a huge first-down completion.
“He’s a great guy, an iconic player, a Hall of Famer. A worthy rival, to say the least. That goes without saying. I’m kind of honored to have even had the chance to compete against him as a coach.”
One guy who won’t believe Big Ben is retiring until he sees it with his own eyes is Raven’s defensive coordinator Don Martindale.
“I’m not sure it’s going to be his final time,” Martindale said. “Who knows with Ben, because he’s like ‘The Terminator.’ You think about the history of this game, of this rivalry, how many times he’s been hit, and you can picture him. … It’s unbelievable, his resiliency and his toughness.”
Roethlisberger’s first appearance as a Steeler was in relief of an injured Tommy Maddox in the 2nd game of the 2004 season in Baltimore. The Steelers lost 30-13.
Roethlisberger took over as starter in week three and promptly went 14-0 in the regular season.
After narrowly escaping the NY Jets in the AFC Divisional playoffs, the Steelers lost 41-27 to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship… yes that same era where illegal filming was going on and Hines Ward said it was like the Patriots were in the huddle with them before plays. If they only knew…
So, on the very same field he took his first snap as a Steeler, it looks as if it will be the field where #7 will take his last one as well.
“My first game in the NFL was there,” Roethlisberger said. “It was Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, just to name a few. I could keep going down the list. It was never a lot of fun to play those guys, but there was a lot of respect. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Steelers Game Plan for Success
- Let Ben go out firing: If it is to be Big Ben’s last game, just turn him loose and let him run the offense his way, especially against the league’s worst pass defense.
- Hunt down Tyler Huntley: T.J. Watt is one and a half sacks away from breaking the single season sack record held by Michael Strahan. Raven quarterbacks have been sacked 53 times, so Watt, Alex Highsmith, and Cam Heyward should eat good Sunday afternoon chasing down Tyler Huntley.
It’s the last dance of the season for both teams– unless a miracle occurs, and thus likely the last time Steelers fans will see Ben Roethlisberger in uniform.
The two time Super Bowl champion would love to end his career with another Lombardi, but winning the last two games of the season vs the Cleveland Browns and Ravens will give #7 enough reason to leave the field Sunday afternoon with his head held high.
Other than tackle tackle Dan Moore and WR James Washington, the Steelers will be pretty healthy for the regular season finale.
The Ravens will be without star QB Lamar Jackson.
As bad as this season has looked at times, the team looked very motivated to make sure Roethlisberger’s last game at Heinz Field was going to be a win, and now they’d like nothing more than to see him end his career against their biggest rivals in Baltimore with one last victory.
It’s going to be a rainy day, and RB Najee Harris should see plenty of touches, but it would behoove the bland Matt Canada offense to hand the keys to #7 and let him attack the league’s worst secondary, giving up nearly 258 yards per game through the air.
What the hell do you have to lose?
It won’t be pretty, but it never is against the Ravens… T.J. Watt will get the sack record, and Big Ben will get one final laugh against Baltimore to close out an amazing career… Steelers 23 Ravens 20
Game Day Information
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
- Vegas line: Baltimore -3.5
Venue: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD.
- Field: Kentucky Blue Grass
Game-time: Sunday, January 9th, 1:00 PM.
- Announcers: Ian Eagle (play-by-play) Charles Davis (analyst) | Evan Washburn (reporter)
Local radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE-FM & 970 WBGG-AM
- Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Craig Wolfley (analyst) | Max Starks (sideline) Missi Matthews (sideline)
National Radio: Compass Media Networks
- Announcers: Chris Carrino (play-by-play) Brian Baldinger (analyst)
Internet broadcast: Steelers Nation Radio (SNR) on Steelers.com
Weather at kickoff: 40 with a 93% chance of rain. Winds out of the South at 5 MPH.
Scouting the Pittsburgh Steelers
Overall record: 8-7-1 (2nd in AFC North)
Last game: Steelers 26 Cleveland 14
Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (14th Season with Steelers)
- Overall regular-season record: 153-85-2
- Playoff record: 8-8 (Qualified for playoffs 9 times)
- 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers Team Roster
- Steelers Team/Individual Statistics
- Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 Schedule
- Points per game: 20.4
- Total yards per game: 329.8
- Passing yards per game: 235.8
- Rushing yards per game: 94
Offensive Scouting Report
- Strengths: Najee Harris runs with authority.
- Weaknesses: Matt Canada’s inept offense. Scoring. Attacking downfield via pass. Young offensive line.
Starting Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger | Back-up: Mason Rudolph
- Ben Roethlisberger has thrown for 3,496 yards with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has been sacked 37 times. The future Hall of Fame quarterback hasn’t fared well in Matt Canada’s bland offense. Perhaps in his last game, he’ll get to take over the offense and bring home one last win.
Starting Running Back: Najee Harris | Back-up: Benny Snell, Jr., Kalen Ballage, and Anthony McFarland, Jr.
- Rookie Najee Harris is showing why the Steelers drafted him in the first round, and has rushed for 1,172 yards and seven touchdowns this year. Harris is 2nd on the team with 70 catches for 440 yards and three touchdowns.
Wide Receivers: Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud, and Cody White.
- Diontae Johnson leads the team with 100 catches for 1,110 yards and eight touchdowns. Chase Claypool is the Steelers deep threat, and has 54 receptions for 823 yards and a touchdown. James Washington has caught 24 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns. Ray-Ray McCloud has 35 receptions for 240 yards. Cody White will look to make the most of his chances, if any.
Tight Ends: Pat Friermuth, Zach Gentry, and Kevin Rader.
- Pat Friermuth has 54 receptions for 444 yards and seven touchdowns. Zach Gentry has logged 15 catches for 128 yards.
Placekicker: Chris Boswell
- Extra Points: 26-28
- Field Goals: 33-37
- 1-19 yards: 0-0
- 20-29 yards: 8-8
- 30-39 yards: 7-8
- 40-49 yards: 10-12
- 50+ yards: 8-9
Steelers Defense (Base 3-4)
- Points per game allowed: 24.1
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 359.9
- Passing yards allowed: 220.3
- Rushing yards allowed: 139.6
- Sacks: 52
- Interceptions: 11
Defensive Scouting Report
- Strengths: Great pass rush lead by T.J. Watt.
- Weaknesses: Bad tackling and communication has lead to some blown plays this year. Rush defense has been an embarrassment.
DE: Cam Heyward | DT: Henry Mondeaux | DE: Chris Wormley.
- Cam Heyward has nine sacks, a fumble recovery, and 83 tackles.
OLB: T.J. Watt | ILB: Devin Bush | ILB: Joe Schobert | OLB: Alex Highsmith.
- Defensive Player of the Year candidate T.J. Watt leads the NFL with 21.5 sacks and 59 tackles. Watt is one and a half sacks away from owning the single season record held by Michael Strahan who had 22.5. Devin Bush has been a disappointment all year, and has 66 tackles and two sacks., Joe Schobert, a Pro Bowler acquired from Jacksonville, is 2nd the team with 108 tackles. Alex Highsmith has 70 tackles and six sacks.
CB: Joe Haden | SS: Terrell Edmunds | FS: Minkah Fitzpatrick | CB: Cameron Sutton/Ahkello Witherspoon
- Joe Haden and Cameron Sutton will be at the corners with Minkah Fitzpatrick at free safety and Terrell Edmunds at strong safety. CB James Pierre will see plenty of field time in the nickle. Fitzpatrick is 1st on the team with 118 tackles and has two interceptions. Edmunds has one of Pittsburgh’s nine interceptions. Ahkello Witherspoon has three interceptions.
Steelers Special Teams
Punter: Pressley Harvin III
Kickoff Returners: Ray-Ray McCloud and Anthony McFarland, Jr.
Punt Returner: Ray-Ray McCloud
Scouting report: McCloud is averaging 22.2 yard per kickoff return and 9.4 yards per punt return.
Scouting the Baltimore Ravens
Overall record: 8-8 (3rd in AFC North)
Last game: LA Rams 20 Ravens 19
Head coach: John Harbaugh (14th season with Baltimore)
- Overall regular-season record: 137-87 | 137-87 with Baltimore
- Points per game: 23.4
- Total Offense per game: 397.3
- Passing yards per game: 257.9
- Rushing yards per game: 139.4
Offensive Scouting Report
- Strengths: Not the same without Lamar Jackson.
- Weaknesses: Offensive line gives up a ton of sacks.
Starting Quarterback: Lamar Jackson* | Back-up: Tyler Huntley
- Lamar Jackson is out, so Tyler Huntley will start… Huntley has thrown for 940 yards with three touchdowns, two interceptions, and has rushed for 222 yards. Ravens QB’s have been sacked a total of 53 times.
Starting Running Back: Devonte Freeman | Back-up: Latavius Murray and Ty’Son Williams
- Devonte Freeman is what is left of the running backs, rushing for 555 yards and five touchdowns. Freeman has caught 32 passes for 184 yards and a score. Latavius Murray has 351 yards on the ground and five scores.
Wide Receivers: Marquise Brown, Rashod Bateman, Sammy Watkins, Devin Duvernay, and James Proche
- Marquise Brown is the top receiver with 88 receptions for 981 yards and six touchdowns. Rashod Bateman has had a good rookie season with 44 catches for 493 yards and one TD. Sammy Watkins has 27 receptions for 394 yards. Devin Duvernay has collected 33 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns. James Proche has contributed 16 receptions for 202 yards.
Tight Ends: Mark Andrews
- Mark Andrews leads the team with 99 catches for 1,296 yards and nine touchdowns.
Placekicker: Justin Tucker
- Extra Points: 31-31
- Field Goals: 33-35
- 1-19 yards: 0-0
- 20-29 yards: 6-6
- 30-39 yards: 9-9
- 40-49 yards: 12-14
- 50+ yards: 6-6
Ravens Defense (Base 4-3)
- Points per game allowed: 23.5
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 366.5
- Passing yards allowed: 281.7
- Rushing yards allowed: 84.8
- Sacks: 33
- Interceptions: 8
Defensive Scouting Report
- Strengths: Very good run defense, tops in the NFL.
- Weaknesses: Pass defense is the league’s worst.
Defensive Line: Calais Campbell has 43 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Linebackers: Patrick Queen leads the team with 94 tackles and has 2 sacks. Tyus Bowser has 50 tackles and 7 sacks.
Secondary: Chuck Clark has 69 tackles to go with 1 sack and 2 interceptions. Anthony Averett has 53 tackles and 3 interceptions.
Ravens Special Teams
Kickoff Returners: Devin Duvernay
Punt Returner: Devin Duvernay
Scouting report: Devin Duvernay is averaging 24.5 yards per kickoff return, and 14.4 yards per punt return.
Steelers vs Ravens History
Series History: Began in 1996
Overall Record: 31-24
- Home: 19-11
- Away: 12-13
- Postseason: 3-1
Streak: Steelers won the last three games.
Last regular-season meeting: Steelers Win, 20-19 (Dec. 5, 2021)
Last postseason meeting: Ravens Win, 30-17 (Jan. 3, 2015)
Injury Report (1/8/22)
- Out: LB Buddy Johnson (Foot)
- Doubtful: DE T Dan Moore Jr. (Ankle)
- Questionable: N/A
- Reserve/COVID-19 List: WR James Washington
- Out: CB Anthony Averett (Ribs/Chest), QB Lamar Jackson (Ankle)
- Doubtful: OLB Odafe Oweh (Foot)
- Questionable: G Ben Powers (Foot), G Ben Cleveland (Head), WR Devin Duvernay (Ankle/Knee)
- Reserve/COVID-19 List:
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.
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