Jam, Jab and Jolt: How the Ravens stick it to the Steelers

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 06: Brandon Williams #98 of the Baltimore Ravens in action against the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 6, 2019 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 06: Brandon Williams #98 of the Baltimore Ravens in action against the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 6, 2019 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Ravens vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers is coming right up. Here are three ways the Ravens can take down the Steelers.

There’s something in the air right now, and it smells like violence.

But controlled violence. On a football field. Not that real-life scary violence we watch on the news channels all day long. You know, the good violence. The kind that happens on 120 yards of turf between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers — when two top-shelf defenses with a deep-seeded level of distaste for each other square off in a game that has ramifications for the AFC North, and the free world as we know it.

Hyperbolic? Sure. A little. But for the first time in recent memory, this just feels like Steelers-Ravens again. No, no, no. Make that Ravens-Steelers. These things matter, right?

The defenses are once again shining for these teams. The Steelers lead the league in fewest yards allowed per game, while the Ravens lead in fewest points allowed. It’s not like we’re talking about “fewest yards allowed to the right flat on third-and-14 under foggy conditions.” Yards and points are the meat of defensive numbers. These two teams shine.

They also have play-makers on offense — the kinds of players who can do things against strong defenses because, hey, great players make great plays. This is no cakewalk for either team, but my job is to look at the Ravens, specifically, so let’s see what they need to do to walk away with a win. As we do every week, we take an alliterative view of simple strategies to victory.

This week, the Ravens need to Jam, Jab and Jolt. I’ll explain:


The return of Ben Roethlisberger has meant the return to contender status for the Steelers. He has led his team to a 6-0 record, thrown 13 touchdowns to only four interceptions, and completed 68 percent of his passes. Those numbers, by the way, are good. He has been beating teams with a quick-rhythm passing game that has only seen him average 6.8 yards per attempt, and we haven’t seen the deep passes as frequently as in years past.

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The Ravens need to utilize their defensive strength — their corners, Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith. Jam these receivers at the line, make Roethlisberger change his pace and hope pass-rushers like Matthew Judon, Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue can disrupt Rothelisberger, knock down passes or throw him down. This means taking away his quick, three-step passes.

Jam those receivers at the line, and jam them every bit of five yards each route.


The Ravens love to run the ball, and they are good at it, averaging a league-high 164 yards per game. Conversely, the Steelers are tough against the run, only giving up 69 yards per game. You think something has to give here, right? My guess is both will, a little. Look for the Ravens to run for somewhere between those two numbers on Sunday.

But that’s not going to get the job done, is it?

The Ravens need to move the sticks, and I believe they’ll have to do it by feeding Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle and, yeah, Willie Snead on short-to-moderate routes. They need to generate first downs, however they can.

Jab with power runs, with Lamar option runs and with short passes. The Steelers have a ferocious pass rush, and the Baltimore offensive line has not shown it will be able to protect long enough for deep routes to develop or to shove it down the Steelers’ throats. They need to jab. They need to probe.


These Steelers-Ravens games always feature some big plays, right? Kick returns, pick-sixes, deep fades to the end zone (I still love you, Torrey Smith).

The Ravens need to be the team generating these tight-game-turning plays — be they from offense, defense or special teams. They need to take a few shots to Marquise Brown, even if that means timing routes down the sideline that don’t take long to develop against man coverage, end-arounds to Devin Duvernay, a flea-flicker on second-and-four or a special-teams trick or two.

Next. 3 things to watch for as Ravens clash with Steelers. dark

I’ll be surprised if this game isn’t in doubt with less than five minutes to go on the clock. A big play from nowhere could very well make the difference in a nip-and-tuck physically- and mentally-draining performance. The purple and black need to be the ones making that play, by explosion or design.