Mike Preston: If Ravens contain running game, they have good chance to beat Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell, left, runs past St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long during the first quarter, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in St. Louis.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell, left, runs past St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long during the first quarter, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in St. Louis. (Billy Hurst / Associated Press)

The key for the Ravens in tonight's game against Pittsburgh is to slow Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell and force quarterback Michael Vick to beat them.

Bell will be making his second straight appearance after missing the first two games because of a suspension. But if the Ravens can control him as a runner and a receiver out of the backfield, they have a good chance to beat Pittsburgh.


Granted, the Steelers have some other offensive weapons, including receiver Antonio Brown. But I'm not sure Vick has the arm strength to take advantage of Brown as a vertical threat.

In three games, we've already seen the Ravens' main problem in the secondary. They can't cover the long ball. The Ravens were successful against Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in the season opener because he was inaccurate throwing downfield and had to rely on short passes.


In losses to the Raiders and Bengals, both Oakland quarterback Derek Carr and Cincinnati's Andy Dalton were successful throwing downfield. From what I have heard all week, Vick is like Manning as far as arm strength. So if the Ravens can bottle up Vick and contain him on rollouts and sprint outs off the edge, they can hold down Pittsburgh.

** To get on a winning streak, the team has to win one game and if the Ravens beat Pittsburgh, they have the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers next on the schedule.

That could put them at 3-3.

I know the percentages aren't high for the Ravens to get into the postseason at this point, but anything is possible in the NFL. It's a watered-down league loaded with average teams, so nothing is impossible.

I like folks saying the Ravens have no chance and they have given up. Apparently, they have never been in serious competition. No one gives up after losing only three of 16 games.

What do they suggest the Ravens do? Go and forfeit the remaining games? Good coaches and a team with character embrace this kind of challenge.

** Third-year offensive tackle Rick Wagner is struggling. He appears to have problems with his arms and hands. Once they get knocked down, opposing players get around him.

The young lad needs quicker feet.

** It was kind of funny this week listening to Ravens coach John Harbaugh say the secondary had some blown assignments last week, and then defensive coordinator Dean Pees say the problems were technique related.

I am more inclined to listen to Pees even though it's still strange that the Ravens haven't suited up veteran outside linebacker Jason Babin after signing him nearly three weeks ago. The word is that Pees is more comfortable playing with players who have been in the system than just putting new faces out on the field.

** I was very glad to see offensive coordinator Marc Trestman squelch any ideas about quarterback Joe Flacco not having any say in the play-calling or checking in and out of plays.

In his eighth year in the NFL, that really isn't even a discussion anymore.


"Joe [Flacco] has options to do a lot of different things out there," Trestman said. "We give him some direction. Generally, a play call is really [giving] some direction, and there's certainly opportunities for him to put us in a better play or a play that he would feel could be successful against the coverages that we're getting. There's a lot of leeway with what we do. I think he's very comfortable with that."

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