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Steelers News: Can Keith Butler’s unit slow down the high-powered Ravens’ offense?

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are finally in the win column after their prime-time win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Raymond James Stadium. On a short week, they don’t have time to dwell on the victory, not with the Baltimore Ravens coming into Heinz Field for a Week-4, prime-time game on Sunday Night Football. Something I did last season and I’m going to start again is the Black-and-Gold Links article.

This is an article where I take stories from quality news sources across the Internet, and add them here for your viewing pleasure. I won’t be posting the entire articles, but I’ll link each story and author so that you can read the full article.

Today we talk about the Steelers’ defense now faced with stopping a very high-powered offense in Baltimore. No longer is it Joe Flacco turning and handing it off, and eventually heaving a prayer deep hoping for defensive pass interference. No, with a revamped receiving corps, the Ravens’ offense is looking as lethal as ever, and Keith Butler’s unit will have their hands full.

Let’s get to the news:

Steelers look to slow down rejuvenated Ravens offense

By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Historically built around a stout defense, the Baltimore Ravens are back in familiar territory this season, ranking No. 1 in the NFL in fewest yards allowed per game and fifth in fewest points surrendered.

On offense, though, these hardly are your father’s Ravens.

The group that will visit Heinz Field on Sunday night to tussle with the Pittsburgh Steelers is no longer the plodding, run-the-ball, keep-the-score-close Ravens of yesteryear.

Behind a rejuvenated Joe Flacco, the Ravens (2-1) not only are one of five teams averaging more than 30 points per game, they are doing it via the pass. The Ravens rank ninth in passing yards per game with Flacco enjoying his best start to a season in six years.

Flacco is averaging 296 yards passing while throwing six touchdown passes against two interceptions.

“He looks healthy, he looks good, he looks the best I’ve seen him in a while,” said cornerback Joe Haden, who has faced Flacco twice annually since breaking into the NFL in 2010. “He’s just throwing the ball on time and to the right place.”

No longer dealing with back pain, Flacco is averaging 100 more yards passing per game than in 2017 when he had 18 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions while the Ravens went 9-7 and missed the playoffs for a third consecutive year. His 889 yards passing is his most after three games since he had 912 in 2012.

“Joe is Joe,” inside linebacker Jon Bostic said. “He’s going to sling the ball across the field. He can do a lot of things on the run, he can extend plays. He can still get the ball down the field.”

Steelers’ Antonio Brown vows: ‘The big plays will come’

By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Seven times over a 5½-minute session of meeting with the media Friday, Antonio Brown told reporters to “watch the tape.”

The tape has been watched. And something that is on it — or rather, what isn’t — draws attention.

Namely, big plays.

Through three Pittsburgh Steelers games, Brown has not produced a play of more than 27 yards, and his average yards per reception (8.8) is the third-lowest of any of the NFL’s 50 leaders in catches.

That’s a far cry from last season, when his career-high 15.2 yards per catch was seventh-best of any of the league’s top 50 receivers.

Brown was asked if there was any explanation for the downtick this season. As he is known to do at times, Brown’s answer was part defiant and part peculiar.

“Watch the tape,” Brown said. “If you watch the tape, (you’ll see). Just watch the tape, man. Right now, winning is important, Big plays will come, and then they’ll continue to come. … What we’ve got to do is continue to win.”

By most mortal measures, Brown is not off to a poor start to the season, his ninth in the NFL. Now 30 years old, he is on pace for 128 catches and ranked tied for fourth in that category after three games. He also has two touchdown catches.

But the lack of big plays is concerning. He has just two receptions of at least 20 yards after finishing in the top three in the NFL of that category in each of the past three seasons, averaging almost 25 per season. He also has been one of the top two in the league at 40-plus yard passes two of the past three years, but has none thus far in 2018, albeit in a sample size of just three games.

“There’s a lot of football left to be played; we know eventually we will start to connect down the field,” said Brown, who for the first time missed a sizable portion of training camp because of injury. “But right now winning is important, and the rest is (not).”

When Big Ben leaves, the party begins in Steelers locker room

By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN

The locker room was fairly calm when Ben Roethlisberger walked out of it Friday afternoon.

A few minutes later, Drake blared from Cam Heyward’s corner. Defensive backs in the area broke out various Fortnite dances before Heyward switched up the pace with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.

That the needle dropped when the quarterback departed was no coincidence.

”You’ve got to respect what he wants,” Darrius Heyward-Bey said. “He’s not here, it’s party time.”

There’s an unwritten rule in the Steelers locker room that Roethlisberger works to protect -- no blaring loud music during core business hours.

Players cultivate a casual, laugh-heavy atmosphere each day, but from 8 a.m. until post-practice showers between 3 and 4 p.m., musical silence is black and golden.

Roethlisberger says the Steelers’ setup has been this way since he arrived in 2004 and veterans such as Alan Faneca and Brett Keisel kept the speakers off.

Now, at 36, Roethlisberger is upholding the tradition, though he’s not trying to be the get-off-my-lawn dad.

“That’s one of the reasons they invented headphones, so you can listen to your music,” said Roethlisberger with a laugh. “If you want to listen to music, that’s no problem, we just don’t want to have to hear it at other people’s lockers. It’s just kind of always been that tradition and we try to keep it going.”