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Steelers at Ravens
Sun., Oct. 29, 1:00 p.m.
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How 'Bout a 0-0 Tie?
Will Clash of Defenses Yield Any Points?
Article by McMillen & Wife

Two teams featuring suffocating defenses and offenses seemingly afraid of the end zone will take the field in Baltimore this Sunday when the Steelers (4-3) meet the Ravens (5-3). On the surface, the matchup should end in a 6-3 victory for the team that protects the ball and has the best punting game, right?

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Well, I guess we can hope. After all, the Steelers are protecting the ball extremely well and Josh Miller is the best punter in the league, so if the above scenario plays out, Pittsburgh will win their 5th straight game and move into 2nd place in the AFC Central. Unfortunately, I think there's a bit more to it than that.

The Ravens still field one of the best defenses on the planet. Don't mistake these guys for pushovers just because they dropped a pair of close battles to elite opponents (the Redskins and Titans) primarily due to bonehead plays by Tony Banks (who will warm the bench Sunday in favor of Trent Dilfer). Baltimore is #1 in the NFL against the rush, and #2 for total yardage. They have allowed the fewest points per game in the league. Their take-away/give-away ratio also tops the league at +13. Considering how paltry Pittsburgh's offensive production has been over the last two weeks (in spite of the fact that they were pitted against the absolute WORST the NFL has to offer), I think we have more than a little cause for concern in this one, my bruthas.

The Steelers haven't been able to establish anything even remotely resembling a passing attack this season. Fortunately, Jerome Bettis is having a fine year, the O-line is performing well above expectations, and the defense has been creating outstanding opportunities for the offense. Now, I have considerable faith in the ability of our defense to contain the Ravens' offensive unit, which has been experiencing struggles of its own. But when you look at how the Raven defense matches up with the Steeler offense, it's downright frightening.

Bettis had 8 yards on 9 carries the first time we played these guys. A lot has changed since then. Unfortunately, those changes include the loss of starting FB Jon Witman to a broken leg and Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala to a broken foot. Rookie RB Dan Kreider is now driving the Bus, and folks, I don't think this guy has his chauffeur's license yet (he wasn't even drafted, for God's sake!). The Steelers be hard pressed to top 40 yards on the ground in this game.

All of which is a nice segue into my Yoi2K mantra... "If we can't run, we can't win." Guess what, people? We're not gonna be able to run. Translation? The burden of this game falls squarely onto the shoulders of the defense and... Kordell Stewart.

Into the Fire
Sunday's game vs the Ravens could be the defining moment of Stewart's career.
I liked Bill Cowher's decision to start Kent Graham at the beginning of the season... not because I thought it did the team much long-term good, but because I hoped it would give Stewart an opportunity to salvage his career. This game presents that opportunity for Kordell. Of course, we're not just gonna see what Kordell Stewart is made of this week... we're gonna see what this TEAM is made of. But in the grand scheme of things, this game means more to Stewart than it does to the Steelers. In fact, I think this game will become the defining moment of Kordell's career. A win, and two years of underachievement are forgiven. Even a loss in the midst of a gallant, poised effort will do Stewart a tremendous amount of good. But a befuddled, sloppy performance full of miscues will likely be the end of Stewart in Pittsburgh. I'm not saying it's fair. I don't think this game should be soley about Kordell Stewart... but I think it's the reality of the situation.

Talk about high drama! I don't envy Stewart coming into this one. The team has been on a roll, the fans are suddenly thinking playoffs again, and Stewart ends up facing the best defense in the league, on the road, running a ball-control offense with a hobbled rushing attack and a receiving corps (excluding Hines Ward) that couldn't catch a cold. Now THERE is some adversity to overcome! If Stewart pulls it off, he's the toast of the town. If he blows it, the wrath of Pittsburgh will descend upon him again like the black plague. Then again, I guess that's pretty much the way it is EVERY week for Kordell Stewart, isn't it? We're pullin' for 'ya, Kordell... kick some Ratbird ass!

Speaking of the Ratbirds, I wanna take a moment to talk about their offense, or the perceived lack thereof. Despite their miniscule point production recently (just 12 Matt Stover FGs over the last 4 weeks), the Ravens' offense is NOT impotent. To the contrary, Baltimore has been moving the ball reasonably well. In fact, the Ravens thoroughly outplayed Tennessee in their 14-6 loss last week. They owned a sizable statistical advantage over the Titans in every single offensive category, but Tony Banks' multitude of bonehead mistakes were their undoing. In an effort to stop the bleeding, head coach Brian Billick benched Banks in favor of former Tampa Bay Buc Trent Dilfer. Will Dilfer be the one to scratch the Ravens' itch?

My guess is no... not against THIS Steeler defense. I think a guy like Dilfer is even more of a liability than Tony Banks. Dilfer chokes as hard as any QB in the league when he's pressured or confused, and suspect he'll be confused on Sunday, folks. Put some heat on him, and he'll make errors. Yes, the Raven offense has been devastating the last two times they have faced the Steelers. In those debacles, WR Qadry Ismail snagged 13 receptions for 360 yards & 4 TDs, but somehow I don't think you'll see anywhere near that kind of production Sunday. Having said that, don't expect a 3rd consecutive shutout by the Steelers, and don't be surprised if Baltimore piles up some yardage. After all, their problem hasn't been moving the ball, it's been finishing the job. But the Steelers have seemingly solved their "big-play" problems and are now about as tough as anyone in the league to score on. If there's one player to fear, it's former Bronco TE Shannon Sharpe. If we limit him and contain the run, I like our chances.

Ultimately, it will come down to how well Kordell is able to function against Baltimore's dominating defense. In spite of the fact that simple logic tells me Kordell and the Steelers will come out on the short end of this, my heart is imploring me to give Stewart a vote of confidence, so...

Prediction: Pittsburgh 16, Baltimore 13

If we win this one, we can actually start talking about playoff possibilities and MEAN it. GO STEELERS!

Tim McMillen
Webmaster, McMillen and Wife

Fan Smak & Analysis
The following articles are listed in the order they were received (with the most recent entries at the top). This isn't a "guestbook" format... I read and manually insert every message, so you may not see your submission show up immediately. Thanks a million for your comments, people!
Submitted by Mike DeLancey
This is the week that the Steelers start getting some respect. I like what Kordell has done the last several games and I think that he is ready to cut loose and have a great game. He will run and make things happen on Sunday while the "D" crushes Dillfer. Bettis may not get his 100 yrds but he will get enough to keep some of the pressure off Kordell Steelers 13 Ravens 3

Ps.Tim, we finally agree on the outcome, hope that is a good omen

Visit my web page at

Submitted by Ken Hoffmaster
Well, here we go with all the hype about how great Baltimore's offense (touchdownless) and defense is. They are good, but I think the Steelers are ready to rumble for another win. It won't be a shutout but I think we will win it 13 - 6. The Steelers are getting at least 1 TD per game and with Kris Brown FG's, we should win this, it won't be easy, but I feel good about Kordell and the Bus. Let's hope Kreider can do some serious blocking and Kordell can do some seious passing. Here We Go steelers!!!!

Submitted by CPT Jeffrey L. Phillips, JA
It looks like you both picked the Steelers this week, therefore, I believe we have a sure victory. Check your stat on who has given up the LEAST POINTS in the NFL. Thanks again for your great site, it's the only one I need to check to keep updated from far away. ALSO, I was at the last game the Steelers played at old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. Kordell won that game by himself with a 60 yard TD scramble and run. The Steeler fans RAN that place that day. I think it would be fitting to re-establish our role as the AFC Central Ass-kickers on Sunday in that purple rathole.

[Ed. Note: For the record, our stat about the Ravens allowing the fewest points per game is correct. Because of the bye week, the Steelers have actually allowed fewer overall points, but the Ravens have played one more game than we have, so when you average out the points scored vs. games played, the Ravens are the best in the league.]

Submitted by David Bolock
Ah, true football at last. It is nice to finally be looking forward to the games on Sunday, instead of approaching them with dread. It did my heart good to dismantle the Browns, Bengals, and Jaguars in three out of four weeks. I loved a comment I recently read about keeping the Jagaurs off of prime time TV. I couldn't agree more.

The "revenge tour" or the "tour of the backup quarterbacks" will continue when the Steelers face Trent "bad decision" Dilfer on Sunday. Could Brian Billick possible have given the Steelers a bigger present than to start Dilfer? After watching Trent with the Tampa Bay Bucs the last 4 years, he made Kordell Stewart look like Kurt Warner in Kordell's worst days. The most amazing thing is that Tony Banks has consistently played well against the Steelers. So far, Trent has managed to single-handedly ruin the career/health of Alvin Harper and Bert Emmanual. If he was in Tampa this year you can bet Keyshawn Johnson would be on the injured reserved from trying to catch one of his passes that is 3 yards behind him before taking a shot from the safety. Look for a big week from Lee Flowers and the secondary as they pound the Baltimore receivers trying to make acrobatic catches of the errant throws from Dilfer.

Enough about that! The Steelers look like they are for real. Good Defense, great special teams, few turnovers, now how about a little offense (other than Bettis). Go Steelers!

Submitted by Todd Preston
You can say all you want to about the QB, Gilbride. But what it comes down to is this. If the two people don't gel, then it doesn't matter if Stu is the most athletic QB in the league, he won't be utilized to his fullest potential. And if Gilbride doesn't see the difference between the two QB's then he will never have an offense that is very effective.

People question the use of Stu on 1st and goal jut to hand the ball to the bus, then throw one away then fumble. Well for all you football novices out there. He was put in there to make the defense think there was going to be a bit of trickery. So it didn't work, next time he might pull something out of his hat.

I think enough has been said about the O and Kordell. If the STEELERS want to go back to the glory of the 70's they need to have someone, anyone, in the secondary that can cover a receiver. I can't remember when the STEELERS had a good secondary. The iron curtain has always been there and still remains strong, thank god. Instead of a rebuilding year, I think the STEELERS are in a rebuilding decade!

Kudos on the awesome site!!! It is the only way I can keep track of the STEELERS no matter where I am stationed.

Todd Preston
Eglin AFB Fl

Submitted by Barry Fox
Just win, baby!

Submitted by Nat LaBorde
Hello,it's been along time,if I told you how very badly life has gone, you wouldn't believe me! Anyways,let me be the first to say it,Steelers shutout Ravens 17-0,we owe them that!!! Everyone except Steeler fans has wrote the Steelers off,I read all the ''expert"predictions,they gave us nothing better than fifth place in OUR central division.In two weeks the Steelers will be in firstplace!!! GO STEELERS!!!!!!

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