If the Ravens want to get back into the AFC wild-card race, the offense needs to break out of its rut Sunday night against the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers.
The Ravens have failed to score an offensive touchdown in the first half in six straight games. And the Ravens' attack has flopped in the red zone, with only three touchdowns in their past 10 trips inside the 20-yard line. As a result, the Ravens have failed to reach 17 points the past three weeks and have only reached the end zone twice in its past three games.
Quarterback Joe Flacco has gone three games without throwing a touchdown pass. In Sunday's 17-15 loss to the undefeated Indianapolis Colts, he threw a red-zone interception in the fourth quarter. He hasn't received much help from his wide receivers other than Derrick Mason. In the past three games, Nos. 2 and 3 WRs Mark Clayton and Kelley Washington have totaled four catches for 43 yards.
The decline of the Ravens offense comes at the worst time. Baltimore is playing the Steelers, who held the Ravens to 43 points in three meetings last season.
LINEUP WATCH: Linebacker Jameel McClain and rookie cornerback Lardarius Webb both likely will be pressed into starting roles against the Steelers. Linebacker Terrell Suggs is expected to miss his second straight game with a knee sprain, which means McClain would take over as rush linebacker. Webb, the team's nickel back, could replace Fabian Washington, who sprained his knee Sunday against Indianapolis.
Same old Bengals? One has to wonder after a 20-17 loss to Oakland on Sunday.
Going into this week's home game against Cleveland, the Bengals need to find a way to solve inconsistencies on offense that have been plaguing them all season.
After two touchdowns on the first three drives against the Raiders, the Bengals had only one score on their last nine drives, with three three-and-outs, three turnovers and a missed field goal. After gaining 175 yards on their first three drives, they had 162 the rest of the game.
Of the upcoming game against the 2-8 Browns, QB Carson Palmer said: "We have a game that will be a little easier to get up for at home. It's a rivalry game and we have to execute a lot better than we did, especially in the second half."
The Bengals are having problems scoring touchdowns in the red zone. After having the league's highest red zone TD percentage through nine weeks, they have only two touchdowns in their last eight trips and were 3 of 5 in red zone scores against Oakland. Against the Raiders, they had a missed field goal from Shayne Graham, and Jeremi Johnson turned it over with a fumble at the Raiders 15-yard line.
Rookie RB Bernard Scott had 119 yards on 21 carries, while Brian Leonard had a season-high 13 carries for 36 yards. Larry Johnson got in for one series in the second quarter and had 5 yards on two carries.
TRENDING: The Bengals continue to get great production out of starting cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall, who allowed only one reception for 7 yards. Joseph also had an interception, his fifth of the season, a career high. He had four in 2007.
UNDER THE RADAR: The Bengals are lacking a deep threat and had Joey Galloway in for a visit last week.
* DT Domata Peko sprained the MCL in his right knee during the second half. He says he is day-to-day.
* WR Chad Ochocinco had four receptions for 67 yards, but only one of those catches came in the second half.
The Browns are the only team that can add a blemish to the Bengals' division record when the teams meet Sunday in Cincinnati.
In Part One, the Browns made Palmer earn his yards. The Bengals' QB completed 23 of 44 passes for 230 yards. On the other hand, making the big plays they made yesterday is something the Browns are determined to do in the rematch.
The Browns were more aggressive against the Lions. Brady Quinn threw four touchdown passes and the Browns averaged 8.8 yards a pass in the 38-37 loss.
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was reluctant to call deep pass plays with Quinn at quarterback until the Lions game when Quinn threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Massaquoi and a 40-yard touchdown pass to Chansi Stuckey. They were the Browns' first touchdown passes to a wide receiver since Nov. 2, 2008. Stuckey had five catches in the game, four more than in his previous four games combined.
* S Brodney Pool intercepted his fourth pass of the season.
* WR Massaquoi caught five passes to regain the team lead (25) from Mike Furrey.
Despite losing two straight, the Steelers head to Baltimore for Sunday night's game just one behind in the AFC North. But ...
"We're not where we want to be," wide receiver Hines Ward said. "We have six games left. We'll see what kind of character this team has." "I take responsibility for that performance," Coach Mike Tomlin said after the overtime loss to the Chiefs. "I have to have this football team better prepared to play."
Their loss to Kansas City marked the third time the Steelers' defense could not hold a fourth-quarter lead. They blew leads to Chicago and in their first game against Cincinnati.
The loser of Sunday night's game in Baltimore might find it hard to make it as a wild-card in the playoffs. The Steelers enter at 6-4 and the Ravens 5-5.
"We got to evaluate ourselves, everybody on this team, come back and finish the last six games strong and really not worry about the playoff hunt or anything," Ward said. "It's really disappointing. We felt like we could come out here and start our streak of wins or something. ... Now we don't know where we're at. We just have to watch the film and move on."
TRENDING: The Steelers have allowed four touchdown returns on kickoffs in the past five games (and returns of every sort for TDs in eight straight games). The four returns on kickoffs ties an NFL record set by the 1998 Minnesota Vikings.
BY THE NUMBERS: 32 -- Number of games the Steelers have gone without allowing a 100-yard rusher, including playoffs.
* TE Heath Miller had seven receptions Sunday to set a career high with 54 catches this season. He had 48 last season.
* QB Ben Roethlisberger extended his team record with his 11th 300-yard passing game. He had 398 vs. the Chiefs, his record-tying fourth this season.
* LB LaMarr Woodley had his second two-sack game Sunday to lift his season total to five, still off his pace of 11.5 last season.