By Matt Vensel
The Baltimore Sun
12:05 PM EDT, October 17, 2013
Their offensive line is under the microscope. None of their running backs have strung together a couple of productive games. And they are one of the NFL’s worst rushing offenses in terms of yards per carry.
Am I referring to the Ravens or the rival Pittsburgh Steelers, their opponents on Sunday? Both, actually.
For the second straight year, The Sun has sent me to cover the Steelers leading up to the AFC North showdown at Heinz Field. Last year, the talk about Pittsburgh media was Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich, who was starting in place of the injured Ben Roethlisberger. This year, it’s the running game.
Through the first six weeks of the season, only the winless Jacksonville Jaguars have averaged fewer rushing yards per game than the Steelers, who have averaged 60.5. If that trend were to continue through the next 11 weeks, it would be the lowest average in franchise history since 1935, according to The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
No Steelers back has rushed for 100 yards -- I'm talking total this season. Felix Jones leads the team with 92 yards and rookie Le'Veon Bell, their current starter, has 91 yards in two games.
Pittsburgh's issues running the ball, coupled with the fact that Roethlisberger has been sacked 18 times in five games, has the Steelers offensive line under the microscope.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has been sacked 19 times in six games and hit hard or chased off his spot in the pocket countless other times. Like the Steelers, the Ravens traded for a left tackle two weeks ago, though unlike Baltimore's Eugene Monroe, Levi Brown never played a down for Pittsburgh before being put on injured reserve.
Bernard Pierce leads the Ravens with 206 rushing yards and Ray Rice, a three-time Pro Bowler, has 197. The team is 27th in the NFL with 72.7 rushing yards per game.
The Ravens have actually been less efficient than the Steelers, though. The Ravens are averaging 2.7 yards per carry, which is tied with the Jaguars for last in the league, compared to 3.1 yards per carry for the Steelers.
While this rivalry has continued to be as physical as it gets in the NFL, it has evolved with the Ravens and Steelers building their offenses around the arms of Flacco and Roethlisberger. With more passes being thrown, it's expected that they would run the ball less. Still, it's odd to see these two teams struggling so much when they do.
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