As you already know, Ben Roethlisberger went down Sunday with an injury to his knee after an errant hit caused his leg to buckle and the quarterback to hit the turf.
The Steelers confirmed the injury through an MRI to be a sprained MCL and a bone bruise that they are putting a 4-6 week timetable on, but could easily extend beyond that depending on how quickly Roethlisberger can regain his strength and stability. It was such a nasty hit that Ben thought he broke his leg, which was sort of confirmed by David Chao, better known as the Pro Football Doc on twitter.
That meant that veteran quarterback Michael Vick had to step in and replace Roethlisberger. While Vick only had to play a limited time, he was 5-6 for 38 yards and a passer rating of 93.1, which was higher than what Roethlisberger had on his time in the game.
Vick was still sacked twice, which has been a problem for him during his career as he likes to make plays with his leg just as much as his arm and his age is starting to slow him down a bit and make him far more fragile than he was in his hayday. That is something the Ravens will try and exploit on Thursday as they want to apply pressure to him and see if he starts to crack a bit and makes mistakes. Untouched, Vick has learned the ability to be a pinpoint quarterback with a cannon for an arm. The combination of an un-pressured Vick and Antonio Brown against the Ravens defense is something that would make Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green blush.
However, Michael Vick is currently a backup quarterback for the Steelers for a reason. Despite a few teams needing a starting caliber quarterback, Vick was passed over a few times in favor of less well known players for a bunch of reasons. First up is the idea that Vick just hasn't been able to stay healthy and consistent for any team he has been with. The positive elements to Vick's game quickly become his downfall as well.
The biggest knock against Vick is that he tends to hold the ball low, allowing defenders a better chance to swipe it from his hands and make a big play defensively. With the pressure that the Ravens showed in weeks one and three, there will be more than enough chances to force Vick to either dramatically change how he holds the ball or cause a few fumbles.
Next is the idea that pressure can flush Vick outside of the pocket. While still plenty dangerous as a runner, he can be contained far better now than early in his career. When Vick is extending plays, he can sometimes shorten his vision and miss wide open receivers and decide to run for a short gain instead. Solid tackling will be key for the Ravens there though as a single missed tackle could spring Vick for 20+ yards.
The last big knock on Vick are his head scratching plays, embellished by the fact that he hasn't been a Steeler for that long and has had even less time playing with the starters. The intricacies of the Steelers passing game will likely elude him this week as it was a short week to begin with, and as we saw against the Rams, Vick threw a ball directly to a defender by not knowing the proper hot route the receiver was going to run.
The Ravens will have plenty of difficult moments taking care of the athleticism of Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell on Thursday. With a little luck and Michael Vick at the helm, it should also present more than enough opportunities for the Ravens to exploit some mistakes and turn them into points.