The first half of the season was a relative disappointment for the Pittsburgh Steelers. A 4-3 record was not what the team or the city was expecting.
Coming off their bye, the Steelers travel to Baltimore to take on the 3-4 Ravens—their once heated AFC North rival.
“It’s still the same rivalry, just different players,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said.
Pittsburgh, still clinging to a one-game lead in the division, has dropped its previous two games and is in a must-win situation. The Steelers might also be without the services of Roethlisberger, despite his return to practice this week.
“He looked good,” guard Ramon Foster told reporters earlier in the week. “I’m not sure how he feels, but I feel like he looked good. His health and how he’s feeling, we’re gonna determine that the rest of the week. But his accuracy was there.”
Roethlisberger has been practicing in a limited capacity throughout the course of the week, and his status for Sunday remains unknown. However, Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs isn’t buying into it.
“Don’t fall for that. I saw this movie before,” Suggs said. “He’s going to act like, ‘I’m not playing. I don’t know. I did individual today and threw a little bit. I still don’t know.’ Then he’s going to walk on out there.”
Suggs has been a part of this matchup for a long time, and has seen his share of injuries to Roethlisberger, whether he plays or not.
The Steelers are 11-8 against the Ravens when Roethlisberger plays, and 1-6 when he does not.
If Roethlisberger isn’t able to go, or at least start, Landry Jones will get the start for the second-straight game.
“For me it’s the same old type of deal,” Jones said. “Just prepare and get ready to go.”
Jones got the start in Pittsburgh’s Week 7 loss to New England—throwing for 281 yards and adding a touchdown and an interception. He showed signs of struggle, but a week off in between games should allow him to improve where needed.
In 2015, there was a similar situation at quarterback. The status of Roethlisberger was uncertain headed into a matchup with Cleveland, and Jones was named the starter while Roethlisberger was the backup. It was the first time since Roethlisberger’s rookie year that he was the backup heading into a game.
The Ravens are coming off their bye week as well, and like the Steelers have had their share of injuries on both sides of the ball. Both teams should see a return of several key players this week.
While Steelers vs. Ravens rivalry has lost some of its luster in recent years, the division being on the line Sunday could bring back some of the heated games we have come to know.
“It’s going to be exciting ball,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. “Control of the AFC North is at stake. We respect their place. We are doing it at their place. It’s a hostile environment. They are well coached and have good players.”
The Steelers lead the overall series 24-20, but have lost their last three trips to M&T Bank Stadium.
Pittsburgh is 1-2 on the road while Baltimore is 1-2 at home. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.