This Thursday Night matchup features two teams that have a long history both on the field and off. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethilsberger was suspended for the first 4 games of the season a few years back for physical abuse and it took its toll on Ben personally and all of his Steeler teammates. This season, The Ravens are going through something very similar with running back Ray Rice who received support of his organization and teammates for his domestic violence incident with his then fiancée that resulted in a 2 game suspension. The league has since changed the suspension to “indefinite” and it looks like his season and possibly career is over. It remains to be seen how this will affect the Ravens as a team going forward.
One area that was affected in the first game was the running game, which totaled just 23 yards on 9 carries in the first half. New starting running back Bernard Pierce had a late second quarter fumble and he did not play the remainder of the game. Justin Forsett took advantage of his opportunity and ran 11 times for 70 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Joe Flacco threw the ball an astounding 62 times for 345 yards, 80 of those yards came from a touchdown pass to new receiver Steve Smith in the fourth quarter. Flacco did not receive much help form his receivers as they dropped a league high 6 passes included several that stalled drives.
Pittsburgh had a dominant first half against the Cleveland Brows jumping out to a 24 point lead and looking like a team that was ready to coast to victory. Roethlisberger had 278 yards passing in the first half alone while finishing with 365 total. Running back Leveon Bell was impressive throughout and finished with 109 rushing yards including a 38 yards touchdown run in the second quarter and also 6 catches for 88 yards. The Steelers lost focus in the second half and allowed the Browns to creep back into the game, however the defense got the stops necessary to pull out a 30-27 victory.
These teams have one of the best rivalries in the NFL. Last seasons 2 games were decided by a total of 5 points. 9 out of the last 10 regular season matchups have been decided by 3 points or less so you can bet that this game will follow a similar path. The Steelers have lost 4 of the last 6 matchups so they will be looking to get back on track. The Ravens will be looking to put the Rice situation behind them and show that can still have a dependable running game. The Steelers are going to look to prove that they are going to play like they did in the first half last week. It should be an intense/physical matchup that will delight the Thursday night primetime audience.
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