There was no rest for the weary as the Steelers’ coaches were back at it on Tuesday morning, preparing for Sunday night’s game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field.
The Ravens are 7-2, one game up on the 6-3 Steelers in the AFC North. But both teams could have 0-15 records and you would still get the same kind of battle that is expected this week.
“It’s Ravens’ week for us,” said Coach Mike Tomlin. “This is going to be an awesome game. It always is. They are a talented bunch as they are perennially. They are a very good football team.”
The Ravens might be without their emotional leader on defense in Ray Lewis, who is on the injured reserve-designated for return list, but they certainly aren’t hurting for talent there.
“They still have some guys that have historically been issues for us,” said Tomlin. “Haloti Ngata is a guy that has created issues for us in the past and anyone else that suits up against him. He is tough to deal with. Terrell Suggs is back in action. He has had big games against us in the past. Ed Reed kills everyone.”
Reed continues to be a thorn in the side of opposing offenses with three interceptions so far this season, while cornerback Cary Williams leads the team with four.
“Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe and Cary Williams are all playing really good football for them. These are guys that have grown in their program and have been playing for them for a number of years,” said Tomlin. “They are familiar names to us but might not be familiar to others. When I watch them on tape I see the emergence of this group and their ability to deliver crucial plays for them. They step up when needed.”
Another player who has stepped up this year is quarterback Joe Flacco, the AFC’s seventh leading passer. Flacco has completed 186 passes for 2,331 yards and 13 touchdowns, while spreading the ball around to prime targets Anquan Boldin, Dennis Pitta, and Torrey Smith, as well as Ray Rice who is a threat in the air but primarily on the ground.
“They are continuing to grow on offense and mature with their quarterback,” said Tomlin. “The offense runs through Joe Flacco. They do a lot of no-huddle. They have a lot of autonomy for him, and rightfully so. He’s a great decision maker. He spreads the ball around to a variety of guys. He does a nice job of highlighting the talents of people.”
It all boils down to a classic battle to stay in the race in the AFC North, and the bottom line this week is this game is not going to be one for the faint of heart.
“More than anything, we understand what this matchup is all about,” said Tomlin. “It’s about physicality and playing good, hard-nosed football. We expect them to do that, and we better be prepared to do it.”
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(Update: Nov. 14 at 8:55 a.m. – Byron Leftwich will start on Sunday night vs. Ravens in place of Roethlisberger)
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is currently questionable for Sunday night’s game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field after suffering an SC shoulder sprain against the Chiefs.
“That is all of the information I have at this point,” said Coach Mike Tomlin during his Tuesday press conference. “He is being evaluated. Obviously this injury puts his participation in the questionable category for this week. I will have more information as I get it, as the week unfolds.”
Tomlin said if Roethlisberger can’t go that Byron Leftwich, who finished out the Chiefs game, would be the starter. He also said it was too soon to talk about signing another quarterback.
“We haven’t discussed it to this point,” said Tomlin. “I haven’t discussed much of anything to this point. More than anything, I’ve been in dark rooms readying ourselves for the Ravens. I’m sure that those discussions and others will potentially come up here in the next 24 hours or so.”
Wide receiver Antonio Brown, who missed the Chiefs game with an ankle sprain, is also questionable for this week at this point.
Tackle Marcus Gilbert (ankle) started working again last week and is considered questionable, as are linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring) and running back Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles), who got significant work in practice last week.
Safety Ryan Clark is also on the questionable list after suffering a concussion against the Chiefs.
“He will be evaluated in terms of his participation,” said Tomlin. “I saw him and he appears to be fine. We’ll see where the evaluation process takes us during the course of the week.”
Safety Troy Polamalu is considered doubtful for Sunday.
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Check out the Steelers notes for this week’s game against the Baltimore Ravnes.
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Coach Tomlin: That’s no Ernie Banks, but we’ll take it. We won’t apologize for it either. Such is life in the NFL. The guys made the necessary plays to get out of the stadium with the win.Big time kudos to all of the people that made the necessary plays, particularly Lawrence Timmons, who made a big play there for us in overtime. On the injury front, Ryan Clark is being evaluated for a concussion. We don’t have definitive information on that at this time. It happened too late in the game. Ben [Roethlisberger] has a right shoulder that’s being evaluated. We don’t know the status of that as we sit here right now. Obviously, those two men are critical to our efforts here moving ahead. When I get information you’ll get it. But, I love the contributions by all parties involved. We were short some bodies and guys had an opportunity to step up. I appreciate their efforts. [It was] enough to win.
Was Roethlisberger taken from the stadium?
To my knowledge he was. But again, I don’t know where he is as I sit here right now.
How did QB Byron Leftwich do filling in for the injured Roethlisberger?
The great thing about Byron is he’s got a very consistent demeanor, a very calming presence. It wasn’t a pretty body of work by any of us, but his consistency remains the same in terms of being a stabilizing force for us. We appreciate him. Big time play. Several plays for him, particularly down the stretch. I thought the third down conversion to Jerricho Cotchery was huge.
If Roethlisberger can’t play, Leftwich is your guy, correct?
I’m not going to get into hypotheticals as I sit here right now. I’m waiting to see what his status is like before we make any determinations.
How big was it to shut the Chiefs down on third down?
The big thing was, particularly in the second half, was calming the run down to the point where we had them in some third and long situations where we could apply some pressure. Too often, particularly in the first half of the game, I thought they were coming up in third-and-shorts, third-and-two, third-and-three, because they were running the ball effectively and I have to give them credit for that. We effectively stopped the run and got them in third-and-long and then we played to our strengths, if you will.
Were the Chiefs doing anything defensively that gave you problems?
No, it was just that we didn’t perform very well. We accept responsibility for that. We’re not going to make excuses. We’re not going to take anything away from our opponent either, though. That group came to play tonight. I tip my hat to Coach Crennel and company over there. But we didn’t do enough to play good football. We did do enough to win, though.
Were you searching for something by using three different punt returners tonight?
No, we weren’t. To my knowledge we only used two.
Didn’t Sanders return the first punt?
No, he didn’t. We used [David] Gilreath and we gave Chris Rainey one.
What is your level of concern with Roethlisberger’s injury?
I’m not because I don’t live in the hypothetical world. I wait until I get information and then I respond accordingly to that information.
Re: The consistency of Shaun Suisham:
He’s been rock solid for us. Not only tonight, but all season, regardless of circumstance or conditions. We respect him. He’s a critical part of our football team.
Re: Roethlisberger’s injury:
Again, I just get information from my medical staff. It was the end of a possession, he came off the field, at some point in the next possession when the defense was on the field I got information that he was being evaluated and that’s all I know regarding it.
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