Snapshot: Steelers-Ravens

WEEK FOUR: Baltimore Ravens (2-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)

KICKOFF: Monday, 8:30 ET
GAMEDATE: 9/29/08
SURFACE: Grass
TV: ESPN (Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, Tony Kornheiser, Suzy Kolber, Michelle Tafoya)
SERIES: 26th meeting. Ravens trail series, 15-10. The Ravens are 2-6 at Heinz Field. Last season in Pittsburgh, the Ravens were blown out, 38-7, on Monday Night Football. It was the largest margin of defeat in the nine-year Brian Billick era. Steve McNair had the fewest yards passing in NFL history (63) by a quarterback that completed 13 passes. And the Ravens defense tied a team record with five touchdown passes allowed.

PREDICTION: Steelers 19-10

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Steelers need a big game out of Chris Hoke stepping in for injured Pro Bowl NT Casey Hampton. The Ravens' offense is based on the trio of RBs Willis McGahee, Le'Ron McClain and rookie Ray Rice churning out yards to protect QB Joe Flacco. Flacco has had spurts of effectiveness, but also threw two interceptions last Sunday. If the Steelers can stop the ground game and create long passing downs, they should rattle the rookie. ... Steelers rookie RB Rashard Mendenhall, who has no carries in the past two games, will get his first career start against a defense allowing an NFL-low 89.1 yards per game on the ground since 2000. But considering the Steelers' inability to protect QB Ben Roethlisberger, they can't afford Mendenhall not to step right in for injured Willie Parker. The offensive line struggled with the Eagles' blitz schemes last weekend, and will see more of the same against the Ravens' aggressive defense.

KEY INJURIES:

McGahee (swollen eye) will play "as long as he can see," coach John Harbaugh said; CB Samari Rolle (shoulder) could be limited to nickel situations.

Hampton (groin) is out; Parker (knee) is expected to miss both games leading up to the team's bye week.

FAST FACTS: The Ravens (161.5 yards per game) and Steelers (234.0) rank first and second in the NFL in total defense. ... Steelers SS Troy Polamalu, who did not have an interception last season, has three this year.


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