Five keys to the game

Aaron Wilson gives us the 5 keys to a Ravens victory against the Steelers this week.

1. How calm can Ravens rookie quarterback Kyle Boller remain considering this is his NFL debut in an unfriendly environment where a sea of "terrible towels" are the least of his problems?

Because Boller has tremendous athleticism and mobility, his margin for error decreases slightly. A key factor for Boller is utilizing proper sight lines from the pocket and on the move along with being cognizant of protections and "hot" routes.

The first-round draft pick needs to lean heavily on safety valves when Steelers defensive coordinator Tim Lewis unleashes an intricate blitz package. He can't play so cautious, or be used so conservatively by Ravens coach Brian Billick and offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh, that he doesn't back the Steelers off the line of scrimmage with deep spirals to tight end Todd Heap and receiver Travis Taylor.

2. Besides the dynamic of Boller's decisions, the Ravens need to continue their trend of pass blocking well against the Steelers. The rookie needs extra time to make the proper choices. An offensive line derided in Sports Illustrated by an anonymous scout as "Jonathan Ogden and four schmoes" should definitely be motivated. Even with All-Pro outside linebacker Joey Porter out after a drive-by shooting, the Steelers' pass rush is still formidable with Jason Gildon and Kendrell Bell.

Establishing the bruising running threat of Jamal Lewis not only to Ogden and Edwin Mulitalo's side is important along with right tackle Ethan Brooks holding up against Gildon and not jumping offsides. If he falters, Orlando Brown will enter the game.

3. With linebacker Ray Lewis' health restored and a more experienced, talented secondary, Baltimore has an opportunity to play the aggressive brand of football that defensive coordinator Mike Nolan wants. It's critical that the Ravens: a) use Peter Boulware and Co. to pressure Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox and reduce his precise passing; b) tackle elusive running back Amos Zereoue; c) cover explosive wideouts Plaxico Burress, Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El; d) be aware of tight end Jay Riemersma on underneath routes.

4. Avoid a special-teams breakdown such as a punt return for a touchdown, a fumbled punt, a fumbled kickoff return or a blocked punt, all of which occurred during the preseason.

5. Baltimore has to keep tabs on an extensive repertoire of trick plays that Steelers offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey likes to employ.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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