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Thread: Ravens feeling pain, preparing for Steelers

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    Default Ravens feeling pain, preparing for Steelers

    Ravens feeling pain, preparing for Steelers
    Associated Press

    OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Before they draw up a game plan for Sunday night's showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens must determine the availability of three injured starters: fullback Le'Ron McClain, left tackle Michael Oher and strong safety Dawan Landry.

    All three were hurt in Sunday's game against Tampa Bay. McClain sprained his left ankle while blocking on a kickoff, Oher sprained his right knee and Landry received a concussion while tackling running back Cadillac Williams.

    "We'll take a look at them and see how they respond over the next few days and see where we're at," coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "That's all you're getting."

    McClain's injury appeared to be the most serious. He had to be helped off the field in the second quarter and was hobbling around the locker room in a walking boot after the game.

    Not only is McClain a valuable blocker, but his bruising running style has proven to be effective against the physical Steelers. In seven career games, the 260-pound McClain has carried 53 times for 207 yards and caught eight passes for 56 yards.

    "It's day to day," McClain said. "You'll see me in treatment 24-7. I got to play Sunday. I got to play against Pittsburgh. That's the only thing I'm thinking about."

    After McClain left, rookie tight end Dennis Pitta took over as a blocking back and H-back. Harbaugh will explore further options until he knows for certain if McClain can play.

    "When you've got a week to prepare for that possibility, we'll have more things up this week," the coach said.

    Oher's injury occurred in the third quarter. The Ravens initially thought the 313-pound tackle would be able to return to action, but trainer Bill Tessendorf decided against it.

    "It was medical. They came back and told us he wasn't going to be up the rest of the game," Harbaugh said. "That was the same with Dawan Landry."

    Oher said after the game, "It definitely could have been worse. I should be good" for Pittsburgh.

    Oher was replaced by Oniel Cousins, who did OK under the circumstances.

    "He was physical - especially in the run game. He held up pretty well in pass protection, too," Harbaugh said.

    But the Ravens didn't score in the second half and could really use McClain and Oher against the Steelers.

    "Having Le'Ron down takes away some our personnel groups and our formations that we are used to running," tight end Todd Heap said. "It's tough without a fullback in our offense, but Michael is a huge part of our offensive line. We missed him in the second half."

    Landry remained on the ground for several seconds after his collision with Williams. He was replaced by Haruki Nakamura in the defensive backfield.

    "When I initially got hit, I don't remember hitting the guy," said Landry, who complained of a headache after the game. "I was laying on the ground. I was kind of woozy."

    The status of those three players, as well as guard Chris Chester (skin infection), is uncertain. The importance of this game, however, is quite clear.

    Baltimore and Pittsburgh are tied for first place in the AFC North. Both are very much in the running for a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

    Not to mention the fact that the Ravens and Steelers are bitter rivals.

    "The stakes go up every single week, this week more than ever," Harbaugh said. "Whoever wins this game does take control of the division. The other team will have to catch up with them in some form or fashion. It gives you an opportunity to do some things in the playoffs. We understand all that. We know how big a game this is."
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    Default Re: Ravens feeling pain, preparing for Steelers

    Steelers, Ravens clash in first-place showdown

    BALTIMORE (AP) -Hateful. Violent. Contentious.

    Those words are often used to describe the intense rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, two AFC North teams from blue-collar towns that play a similar brand of smashmouth football.

    The buildup is often as entertaining as the game itself. In the past, Shannon Sharpe, Hines Ward, Tony Siragusa and Joey Porter fired insults at opposing players and fans, showing absolutely no regard for what juicy quotes might end up on the opposing team's locker room bulletin board.
    As usual, there will be plenty at stake when the Steelers (8-3) and Ravens (8-3) clash Sunday night. The winner takes over first place in the division and will take an important step toward securing a first-round bye.

    But the hype has been surprisingly, and to some unfortunately, tame.

    Asked if he hated the Ravens, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger replied, "I don't hate anybody. That's a very harsh word.''

    Pressed to explain the reason behind his 7-2 record as a starter against Baltimore, Roethlisberger offered: "I have no idea. Luck?''

    Baltimore running back Ray Rice was asked whether the rivalry was based more on hate or respect. He began talking before the question was completed.

    "I didn't mean to cut you off, but I learned from my own leader on this team - and that's Ray Lewis - the power of respect is to never disrespect,'' Rice said. "That's first and foremost about playing the Pittsburgh Steelers. We respect them. That's what the rivalry has all been about.''
    Respect? Really?

    "Both sides know each other very well, and I think if you do get into all of that (talking) it's because there's a common respect from both sides,'' Lewis said. "We respect them because we know what type of game they're going to bring, and they respect us because they know what type of game we're going to bring. So here we go again, one of those classic battles where everything is on the line.''

    Even Ward didn't have much to say, except to complain that Ravens coach John Harbaugh gave him a tepid handshake and wouldn't look him in the eye when they crossed paths before the teams met in October.

    Harbaugh laughed it off, saying, "I didn't know there was a barometer for the pre-game handshake. That's good to know. There's a meter, a scale. ... I'll just take it as constructive criticism. It's an opportunity to improve my pregame decorum and courteousness with players.''

    That doesn't mean that the insults, and perhaps helmets, won't start flying once the teams hit the field. The physical nature of both teams is one reason why this rivalry is so intriguing - it isn't so much about long passes and big plays as it is about moving up the field one tough yard at a time.

    "I've been a part of jawing and talking. I've never been a part of any illegal hits,'' Rice said. "I talk with my pads. A little words back and forth is not going to hurt nobody. But I have not been a part of somebody trying to go low on the knee or bend me up at the end of a pile. No, I haven't been a part of that, and I don't really want to be a part of it.''

    With the exception of the 2008 AFC title game, a 23-14 Pittsburgh victory, the last four games have been decided by four points or fewer - including Baltimore's 17-14 comeback win at Heinz Field two months ago.

    There's no reason to believe this one will be any different.

    "Just based on previous matchups, one could assume that there's a chance that this is going to be a close football game,'' Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.

    In that 17-14 game, Joe Flacco hit T.J. Houshmandzadeh with an 18-yard touchdown pass in the final minute to lift the Ravens to victory. But the Steelers didn't have Roethlisberger, who was serving a suspension and watched the game in his living room.

    Baltimore hasn't beaten Pittsburgh with Roethlisberger starting at quarterback since 2006.
    "Well, there's no game better than this one to break that streak,'' said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, who has 11 career sacks against the Steelers.

    In that first game, Baltimore was forced to play without safety Ed Reed, who was on the physically unable to perform list while recovering from offseason hip surgery. Reed made his season debut on Oct. 24 and has four interceptions in five games.

    "Now that everybody has everybody,'' Lewis said, "let's see how it goes down.''

    The Ravens are vying for their franchise-record ninth straight home win. Pittsburgh has won in Baltimore only once since 2002.

    "Our fans are going to be crazy,'' Lewis said. "It's one of those games that you have to be a part of, that you want to be a part of. When your legacy is done, you look back at these games right here.''

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