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Ravens vs. Steelers: Game will come down to quarterback play

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Baltimore and Pittsburgh have many negative similarities. It may simply come down to which quarterback can make more plays under pressure.

Jason Bridge-US PRESSWIRE
The similarities, although negative in concept, are scarily similar.

The Ravens (3-3) have allowed 19 sacks in six games. The Steelers (1-4) have given up 19 sacks in five games.

Both teams are on new left tackles from the start of the year, when Bryant McKinnie and Mike Adams started for Baltimore and Pittsburgh, respectively. They've both changed out centers as well. Gino Gradkowski (Bruce's brother) took over for retired Matt Birk, and Fernando Velasco has been starting since Week 2 in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers gave the keys of their running game to Le'Veon Bell, who's averaging 2.8 yards per carry. Both Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce are rushing for 2.8 yards per carry for Baltimore's stagnant running game.

Wide receiver Torrey Smith has 568 receiving yards, WR Antonio Brown has 498, besting Smith in receptions 41-28.

Both teams are giving up an obscene amount of sacks, and neither team can run the ball. Both teams have quarterbacks who have thrown well in stretches, but have turned the ball over frequently - Ben Roethlisberger

Judging on statistics, it seems this game will simply come down to which team can prevent the other team from throwing the ball. That brings up one of the main limitations the Steelers have had this season - putting pressure on the quarterback.

Baltimore, second in the league with 22 sacks, has little problem putting passers on the ground. The Steelers have seven sacks - the same as defensive end Terrell Suggs. The Steelers - defensive end Cameron Heyward in particular - led a revival of their forgotten ability to get to a quarterback against the Jets. They logged 16 quarterback hurries in that game. While that seems like the exact dam-busting performance the defense needed, the question of whether it was their doing or more the hesitance of rookie Geno Smith still exists.

Flacco, a seasoned veteran, has taken more pressure through six games than he's used to, and the result of that could be his eight interceptions and four fumbles. Roethlisberger is probably more used to enemy fire, but he's turned the ball over 10 times in five games.

Roethlisberger has played very well the last two games, rebounding from a slow start. It's been a while since he last played the Ravens, his favorite opponent. It seems as if the teams are aligned for the kind of game where the quarterback who doesn't turn the ball over and can perform at a high level despite leaky pass protection will lead his team to victory.

So which will it be?

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