By Nick Shook
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One of the more surprising questions emerging from the first quarter of the season originates in Pittsburgh, and revolves around quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Where’s that explosive, high-flying Steelers‘ offense we all expected?
Roethlisberger, like the veteran star he is, has shouldered much of the blame, saying “we lost the game because of me, because I didn’t play well enough.” Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs isn’t buying it.
“Oh Ben (sighs). He’s setting us up,” Suggs said, via NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. Yeah, you know, he’s playing mind games. The rat [expletive]. He’s setting us up. Tell Ben I’m onto his tricks. I know what he’s doing. I’m not going to let him fool me with trickery and Jedi mind tricks.”
Baltimore is licking its wounds after flying overseas and getting dismantled by the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 44-7 loss. The Ravens‘ defense, which shined in a Week 1 win over Cincinnati and was suffocating in a Week 2 victory over Cleveland, has seen a statistical dropoff as a result of the Jacksonville game. The unit is tied for 18th in the league in yards allowed per game, and 28th in points allowed per game.
It seems like a good time for the Steelers — 22nd in yards gained per game, and T-16th in points scored per game (21.3) — to get things going.
Surprisingly, that won’t start with Roethlisberger, but instead Le’Veon Bell. The Steelers are averaging a paltry 69 yards per game on the ground, tied for 29th in the league. Only the Cardinals and Giants have been worse on the ground. With an offensive line like Pittsburgh’s, this shouldn’t be the case.
Baltimore, on the other hand, is allowing 112 rushing yards per contest. That appears to be a good matchup for the Pittsburgh ground game to finally get out of first gear.
The Jedi mind tricks Suggs was talking about won’t help the Steelers much, though. Since 2008, Baltimore is 11-10 versus Pittsburgh, including postseason play. Neither side will take the other lightly — it has too much of a history to make such a mistake.