M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD is a difficult place to play for opposing football teams. The Pittsburgh Steelers know this all too well in their rich history of battles against the Baltimore Ravens. In the last 9 football games the Steelers have played in Baltimore, the Ravens have come out victorious six of those 9 times, dating back to the 2005 season.
Steelers.com asked Mike Tomlin what one of the keys to victory would be as the team gears up for this AFC-North battle, and he hinted at the starts to these games which could play a huge part in who leaves the game victorious.
"We usually absorb some negativity early in this hostile environment, and because of the energy with which they come out for the opening kickoff. I want to strike a few blows of our own. I want to start faster than we normally have in the history of this series at this venue. And I think if we do, it'll put us in good position to win the game. It seems like we're always storming back at the end, and whether or not we win or lose depends on whether or not we run out of time. If we rectify that with a strong start, I think we'll be comfortable with our position within this game."
Tomlin is not hinting around in regard to what he feels his team will have to do to gain an edge on the competition. Slow starts are certainly a trend when the Steelers travel to Baltimore, and something that will need to rectify itself if they plan on heading back to Pittsburgh 2-0 overall in the AFC North.
The key to the fast start speaks to both the offensive and the defensive sides of the football as both can do their part in improving the team's start to the game. If the Ravens start the game with possession of the football, the defense causing a '3 and out' would go a long way to not just improving field position, but setting the tone for the remainder of the football game.
Offensively, keeping the Ravens unbalanced and moving the chains on third downs will dictate just how successful the Steelers will be in this Thursday night game. Utilizing Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Heath Miller and any other weapon at Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley's disposal will only benefit an offense that can move the ball quickly, and score in the blink of an eye.
Winning the first quarter doesn't always win you the football game, but getting off to a slow start could make coming back to win nearly impossible, something the Steelers know all too well when traveling to Baltimore.