After several postponements, the Ravens will finally travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers on Wednesday. Baltimore will be without several starters due to COVID-19, including QB Lamar Jackson. The Ravens have a giant mountain to climb in order to hand their divisional rival their first loss of the season, but it is certainly possible.
Here are five keys for that to happen.
1) Disrupt quick passes
Similar to their last meeting, Pittsburgh will likely look to attack Baltimore’s defense with quick passes. The Ravens will be without several key players up front, including DE Calais Campbell, DT Brandon Williams, and OLBs Matthew Judon and Pernell McPhee, meaning it will be even harder to generate pressure without blitzing.
Disguising who will drop into coverage can help Baltimore eliminate some quick throwing lanes, as well as a concerted effort to bat passes at the line. Playing physical with the WRs at the line and communication is key to avoiding pick and rub routes from the Steelers.
2) Play with discipline
It’s no secret that the Ravens have lacked discipline in 2020. Penalties have destroyed many drives on both sides of the ball for Baltimore this season. The Ravens have a very small margin for error in order to pull off the upset on Wednesday, so penalties will have to be cleaned up, even with a makeshift line on both sides of the ball.
3) Avoid costly turnovers
As mentioned earlier, Baltimore’s margin for error is razor-thin against Pittsburgh. Turnovers have been an issue for the Ravens against the Steelers in recent years and were the main reason for Baltimore losing to Pittsburgh earlier this season. QB Robert Griffin III must make sure to keep the ball out of harm’s way and to remain in the hands of the offense. Turnovers would be certain death in this matchup.
4) Limit the damage of Pittsburgh’s pass rush
The Steelers have potentially the scariest pass rush in the entire NFL. To make matters worse, the Ravens will be without both Patrick Mekari and Matt Skura, meaning a new face will debut at center. RT D.J. Fluker is also questionable to play on the injury report. Baltimore’s offensive line is heavily outmatched in this game, so quick passes, screens, and play-action passes should be utilized to help slow down the pass rush and make life easier for Griffin in the passing game.
5) Feed the hot hand
The Ravens have had tremendous rushing success against Pittsburgh in their last two meetings. Even with the current state of Baltimore’s line coupled with the absence of FB Patrick Ricard, Baltimore will surely look to lean heavily on the ground attack without Jackson in the lineup. It will be important for the Ravens to feed Gus Edwards and/or Justice Hill often to keep the offense in rhythm and to wear down the Steelers on defense.