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Steelers vs. Ravens: Three players who need to step up for Pittsburgh to win Sunday

A trio of black-and-gold players who need to step up in Week 9.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

It’s funny how the season can do a ‘180’ in a matter of weeks. The Pittsburgh Steelers were the team struggling to find their identity when these two teams met in Week 4. Now the roles are reversed with Baltimore losing two in a row, and three out of the last four.

Make no mistake about it, this is still Pittsburgh versus Baltimore. The records are what they are, and even with the Black and Gold looking as if they have found their groove, all of that could change in one trip to Charm City.

Baltimore, outside of a lopsided game or two, has always played the Steelers tough. They have one of the better defenses in the league, and even though their offense hasn’t been carrying their weight, they have some players who present match up issues which was evident in the first meeting.

Let’s take a look at who I believe will need to play big on Sunday in order to get a victory Sunday in Baltimore.

Ben Roethlisberger

In most cases, Roethlisberger would be on this list every week. There’s just something about the Ravens that they seem to know what we are going to do before we do it. I guess some of it could be chalked up to familiarity, but it’s the physicality they seem to struggle with.

In the first meeting Pittsburgh struggled mightily on 3rd down, going 2 of 12. Some of that could be placed on play calling, but Ben tried to force the ball to Antonio Brown way too often. The offense has been better of late with Ben using all the weapons at his disposal and combining that with a great running attack.

If my memory serves, the TE was a big part in Pittsburgh getting back in the game in the second quarter, only to forget that fact in the second half. Maybe Baltimore made adjustments, but we have forgotten about the TE in games in the past where he was having first half success. No matter what, Ben has many weapons and he needs to use every single one at his disposal. It keeps defenses honest and also keeps everyone involved and a part of the game.

Vance McDonald

Talk about a 180. Vance “The Vanimal” McDonald has went from being criticized about his injury history, as well as his salary hit, to cult favorite here on the message boards. Rightfully so on all accounts in certain aspects, but it’s funny how things change.

Without the emergence of a third wide receiver, Vance, Jesse James, along with James Conner, have managed to provide Ben with another option of sorts. The problem is Vance, as well as Jesse James, seem to be an afterthought in large stretches of games. In the first meeting the TE, and in particular Vance McDonald, was a huge component in getting the score back to even before halftime — only to be forgotten in the second half.

I get Vance isn’t Antonio Brown, but he has shown the ability to energize this football team with his brutal runs after the catch. In a game that didn’t have much going offensively he was a bright spot, maybe for a small stretch, but the play went away from him and I have a hard time understanding the thought process from a coaching standpoint.

Mike Hilton

What can be said about this guy that hasn’t already been said? He has been a Godsend in the defensive back field. He missed the first meeting against the Ravens and will be a welcomed addition in the game Sunday.

The guy knows his assignments, something which cost the defense a big play with Cameron Sutton manning the slot in the first game. Hilton is one of the better tacklers, form and physicality. He provides a blitz and pressure from the slot that hasn’t been seen in a while in Pittsburgh. We could have used all of that in the first meeting. I expect to see this guy all over the place Sunday afternoon.


You have my trio, time to hear yours...