The Baltimore Ravens had never beaten Ben Roethlisberger. Sunday, they beat him like a rented mule, sacking him four times, forcing him to cough up two of the Steelers' four fumbles and harassing him into three interceptions. The seven turnovers forced set a franchise record for the Ravens en route to a 35-7 victory.
Last season in the playoffs, the Ravens led the Steelers 21-7 at the half. The Steelers forced three Baltimore turnovers in their comeback victory. On Sunday, the Ravens turned the Steelers over and put the game away in the third quarter. Roethlisberger had entered the game with a career best streak of 158 pass attempts without throwing a pick. The Ravens were in the backfield all day long, never giving Big Ben a chance to set his feet.
Most concerning for the Steelers has to be an emerging trend: an inability to stop the run. We noticed that this preseason. The calling card for Dick LeBeau's Pittsburgh Steelers defenses has been holding opponents under 100 yards rushing. In the preseason, they surrendered more than that three of four games and narrowly averted it in the fourth.
On Sunday, Ray Rice carried 19 times for 107 yards and a score. He was averaging nearly 10 yards per carry by half-time when the game was still in doubt. Ricky Williams chimed in another 63 yards on 12 carries, giving Rice a breather in the blowout.
The pass defense wasn't much better for Pittsburgh. Joe Flacco turned in a solid 17-29 day totaling 224 yards and three touchdowns, including a 27 yarder to Anquan Boldin just a minute and a half into the game.
Another disturbing trend for Pittsburgh is their offensive line play. Big Ben is getting his bell rung on a regular basis. Yesterday's four sacks were a carry over from last season when the Steelers reached the Super Bowl in spite of poor pass protection. It's doubtful they can repeat that, or even keep Roethlisberger healthy if he continues to get hit like he did on Sunday.
So after one week of interdivisional play, the Ravens and the Bengals hold the top spot while the Browns and Steelers are 0-1.
Next Sunday, the Bengals stay on the road at Denver, Baltimore travels to Tennessee, Cleveland over to Indianapolis, and the Steelers open at home against the Seattle Seahawks.
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