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Steelers at Ravens: 3 Things to Keep an Eye On

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Steelers at Ravens: 3 Things to Keep an Eye On

The Pittsburgh Steelers got back into the win column on Monday Night Football by defeating the Cleveland Browns 26-14. The offense finally put points on the board in the first half and the defense pitched a first half shut-out. On a night all about future first ballot Hall of Fame QB Ben Roethlisberger, the defense played very well by forcing two interceptions and the Steelers’ rushing attack dominated. Najee Harris finished with career high in yardage with 28 carries, 188 yards, and a touchdown.  Roethlisberger finished 24 of 46 yards for 123 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception on the night. On a night where emotions ran high, the Steelers kept their slim playoff hopes alive. The Steelers will have to take care of business Sunday afternoon at 1 pm Eastern against the Baltimore Ravens and the Jacksonville Jaguars need to beat the Indianapolis Colts for the Steelers to get into the dance in one of the wild card spots. Before we talk about this last regular season matchup against the Ravens, let’s take a deeper look into Big Ben’s last game at Heinz Field.


Last week in review

The 3 things I noted to keep an eye on last week were:



1) Farewell from Heinz, Big Ben!

Is there a better way to put a perfect ending to a great career at Heinz Field than to beat the Browns again to improve his career home record against them to 26-3-1? Absolutely not, it was a perfect night for Roethlisberger. The quarterback didn’t put up crazy stats, but he got the job done. And that’s what the quarterback has done his entire career, he has gotten the job done time and time again. Roethlisberger will finish his career in Pittsburgh without a losing season and I don’t think that feat is talked about enough. It was an emotional night to say the least. For people like me, who was 8 when Roethlisberger was drafted in 2004, the quarterback was my entire childhood. He made me love the game of football. For that, I’d like to say thank you, Big Ben! Like many times in his career, Roethlisberger enters the last week of the season still vying for a playoff spot. The game came to a close and Roethlisberger took the final knee, the quarterback then began to soak it all in with teammates and coaches and then with the fans, family, and friends.


2) Stop the Run, repeat performance from Week 8

One of the biggest keys to beating the Browns was obviously focusing on their offense’s rushing attack, which is one the league’s most productive. I expected to see the Steelers’ defense key in on the run and force the Browns to beat them behind the arm of QB Baker Mayfield. The Steelers’ defense didn’t have to do too much because it seemed the Browns were determined to rely on Mayfield’s arm anyway. Nick Chubb finished with only 12 carries for 58 yards. The defense answered the call when they needed to and forced a Browns’ turnover, forced a punt, or got the ball back on a turnover on downs on 11 of their 13 drives.


3) Will the team come together to continue a playoff push for Roethlisberger’s likely final season?

The defense played extremely well on the night, forcing two turnovers and collecting 9 sacks (4 of those by Defensive Player of the Year candidate, TJ Watt), the offensive line played really well on the night in the debut of interim OL Coach Chris Morgan, and the rushing attack flourished with Harris gaining 188 yards. The offensive line also only gave up two sacks on the night to an impressive Browns’ pass rushing attack. So yes, the Steelers kept their slim playoff hopes alive.


Let’s take a look at 3 things we should watch for against the Ravens:



1) Final Regular Season Game for Roethlisberger; Can he get the job done one more time?

Yes, this is most likely Big Ben’s last regular season game of his career, but the Steelers still have an outside chance of making the playoffs and giving Big Ben one last playoff run. The Steelers have to take care of business and some other things have to take place as well, but their playoff hopes are still alive. In the previous matchup this season, Roethlisberger led the Steelers’ offense down the field and took the lead with an eventual game-winning touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson. The game will likely be close. Can Roethlisberger get the job one last time to put the Steelers playoff hopes in the hands of the Jaguars?


2) Chasing Strahan!

Last week against the Browns, Watt collected 4 more sacks on the season to move to 21.5 sacks on the season. The All-Pro outside linebacker is just 1.5 sacks away from passing New York Giants’ legend Michael Strahan (22.5 sacks) for the single-season sacks record. Watt is also the current favorite to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. Watt hasn’t won the award yet in his career; he has finished in the top 3 of voting for the past two years (although most would argue that he should have AT LEAST one of those). In my opinion, Watt is a lock for DPOY already, but breaking Strahan’s single-season sack record would be the icing on the cake for a stellar season by the Steelers’ outside linebacker. Oh yeah, tomorrow against the Ravens will be only his 15th game played this season due to injuries.


3) Further Improvement of the Offensive line

Morgan took over for former OL Coach Adrian Klemm, when Klemm took a position with Oregon. The offensive line played one of their best games this season helping Harris rush for a career high 188 yards. There’s no better way to interview for a position than to close out the regular with two stellar rushing performances. The Steelers have struggled to run the ball all year and the offensive line’s play has been abysmal. Monday night was the first time the offensive line played cohesively and hopefully they can have an encore performance against the Ravens front seven as they will need it. The Ravens’ defense has allowed the least amount of rushing yards in the NFL this season. The offensive will most likely be without rookie LT Dan Moore Jr. as well, as he is listed as doubtful on the Steelers injury report. The Steelers may do some rearranging pieces of the offensive line to compensate for the loss of Moore. If the Steelers’ offensive line can play like they did last week against this Ravens’ rushing defense despite the loss of a starter, maybe the Steelers should look to hire Morgan as their offensive line coach for next season.


What do you think, Steeler Nation? What should we watch for in the regular season finale against the Ravens tomorrow afternoon? Sound off in the comment section below on FacebookTwitter, and/or Instagram!

Just a Steelers fan wanting to discuss Steelers topics! #HereWeGo! Check out my Twitter account @CJLester58 #SteelerNation

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