The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Pro

November 27, 2013

Steelers, Ravens readying for key Thanksgiving clash

BALTIMORE — The last time the Baltimore Ravens played on Thanksgiving, coach John Harbaugh gathered the family together for a game against brother Jim and the San Francisco 49ers.

Two years later, Harbaugh and the Ravens will spend the holiday with their most bitter rival.

It doesn’t matter that Baltimore (5-6) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-6) both have losing records. Both teams have plenty of motivation, because tonight’s game has playoff ramifications. Plus, these AFC North foes almost always engage in a hard-hitting, trash-talking, closely played affair.

“It’s always a cool week when you go against these guys,” Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. “It’s been a good game for the last handful of years, and it’s always a challenge getting ready on a short week. But they have the same issues. It should be a lot of fun.”

Since Harbaugh took over the Ravens in 2008, Baltimore has faced Pittsburgh 13 times, including twice in the playoffs. Nine of those games were decided by three points, including the Steelers’ 19-16 win last month.

“It’s just an intense rivalry,” Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown said. “Great defense is played. I think everyone understands the urgency of the game. It’s just iron on iron. It’s always a tough battle, and it always comes to the fourth quarter and to the end of the game.”

Few NFL coaches prefer a short week leading up to an important game, but Harbaugh loves the idea of pacing the sideline at a time when most of America is digesting a big holiday meal.

“To get a chance to play on Thanksgiving night in front of the whole country in a rivalry such as this in Baltimore is something that you work hard for,” Harbaugh said. “We’re looking forward to it. We can’t wait to play.”

Five things to know about the Ravens-Steelers matchup:

Surging Steelers: After opening the season with four straight defeats, the Steelers have bounced back with a 5-2 run that includes three consecutive wins.

“I just think we’re all continually evolving, and thankfully we’re evolving in the right direction,” coach Mike Tomlin said.

Since that horrid start, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has thrown 14 touchdown passes compared to only five interceptions. Brown has 80 catches for 1,044 yards and six touchdowns.

Asked to explain the Steelers’resurgence, Brown said, “The adversity we’ve been through has made us even tougher as a band of brothers. We appreciate winning.”

Home for the holiday: The Ravens are 4-1 at home this season compared to 1-5 on the road. It’s the continuation of a trend: Baltimore is 37-8 under Harbaugh at home and has won 18 of the last 21 at M&T Bank Stadium.

“We’re going into the lion’s den,” Tomlin said. “I think anybody that is a competitor embraces that. We’ve got a great deal of respect for those guys and their fans and the atmosphere that they create, and (we’re) really looking forward to pitting our skills versus theirs within it.”

Sack happy: The Ravens have a sack in 22 straight games, tying a franchise record, and linebacker Terrell Suggs has more sacks (16½) against Roethlisberger than any other quarterback.

“Being that he is the hardest guy to tackle, it’s something I really take pride in,” said Suggs, who has nine sacks for the season but none in the last three games.

“I was thinking about that, too,” Suggs said of the drought. “I can’t get down on myself. I’ve still got games left.”

Familiar foe: It’s tough to get an NFL team ready in just three days, but at the least Tomlin and Harbaugh have the advantage of knowing

their opponent.

“Both teams have a pretty good idea, I’m sure, of how the other is organized,” Harbaugh said. “So, we’re pretty far down the road with each other at this point.”

Said Tomlin: “I think every short week I’ve had, really since they’ve been doing these Thursday night games in ‘08, has been with a familiar opponent. I think that’s something that the league makes a conscious effort to do.”

Running man: Steelers rookie running back Le’Veon Bell is coming off an 80-yard performance in Cleveland and burned the Ravens for a career-high 93 yards the last time the teams played.

“The best thing about him is he doesn’t pretend to know everything,” Tomlin said. “He comes in the building every day ready and willing to learn. He listens well, and I think those are great skills and perspective to have to go along with his obvious physical talents.”

Bell has 455 yards rushing, five more than Baltimore’s Ray Rice, a three-time Pro Bowler.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Pro
  • Penguins 0419 Blue Jackets outlast Pens in double-OT

    Matt Calvert banged home a rebound 1:10 into the second overtime and the Columbus Blue Jackets earned the first playoff victory in franchise history with a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
    Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury stuffed the initial shot by Cam Atkinson but Calvert stood all alone at the left post and wristed a shot into the open net to even the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at one game each.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0419 Brewers rally to clip Pirates

    Ryan Braun hit two homers, including a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth inning that sent the Milwaukee Brewers over the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 Saturday night.
    Braun has five home runs this season after being suspended for the last 65 games of 2013 following Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis drug scandal.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Area runners gearing for Boston Marathon

    The time was 12:15 p.m. It was Monday April 19, 1897.  Tom Burke had drawn a line across the dirt road with his foot. Eighteen men gathered near Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland, Massachusetts.

    April 19, 2014

  • Pirates 0418 Brewers ward off late Pirates rally bid

    Kyle Lohse pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Carlos Gomez homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Friday night.
    Lohse (3-1) improved to 11-2 in his career against the Pirates, allowing one earned run in a win against them for the second time in six days.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drama lacking sans Tiger

    If professional golf saw its future at Augusta National last weekend, the sight had to be worse than choking on a 5-foot putt.
    The course was there in all its splendor.

    April 18, 2014

  • Penguins 0418 Penguins are wary of spunky Blue Jackets

    Sidney Crosby is used to the attention. It comes with the territory when you’re the best hockey player in the world.
    Still, the Pittsburgh Penguins star knows the spotlight becomes more acute in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0417 Pirates power past Brewers

    Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.
    Harrison’s two-run drive down the left field line off Rob Wooten (0-1) was the second of his career as a pinch hitter.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0417 Jackets preparing for Game 2

    The Columbus Blue Jackets don’t feel they’re doomed after blowing a two-goal lead in a Game 1 loss of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
    “It’s not about missed chances, or feeling sorry about it,” goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky said at Thursday’s optional workout, 13 hours after falling 4-3 in Pittsburgh.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • racin 0416 Jennerstown Speedway gearing for May open

    Jennerstown Speedway released a very ambitious schedule on its website and continues to prepare for its 2014 reopening.
    The track is set to hold a practice day for drivers as well as an open house and media day on April 26.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pirates 0416 Dominant Cueto drops Pirates in matinee

    That playoff loss in Pittsburgh last year? Johnny Cueto never thought about it much. So getting a chance to shut out the Pirates in a rematch wasn’t any more special.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads