Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston talks about the Ravens' 39-38 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers are like sharks. Once they see a weakness, they go after it.
When Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams was out of the lineup earlier this year with an ankle injury, the Steelers pounded the ball at the Ravens. Then on Sunday night, with cornerback Jimmy Smith sidelined, the Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw 66 times, completing 44 for 506 yards and two touchdowns.
During the offseason the Ravens worked hard to rectify the problems of finding players who could cover and getting pressure on the quarterback, but it apparently didn't work. Well, not against a great quarterback like Roethlisberger and it wouldn’t against New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, either.
The NFL is full of average teams and the Ravens have shown they are one, if not the top average team in the AFC, but they aren't in the top tier yet with the Steelers or Patriots. The Ravens’ Joe Flacco can't match the talent level of those quarterbacks and the Ravens can't stop them, not with Smith out of the lineup.
Opposing teams are going to watch the film of the Ravens’ loss Sunday night to Pittsburgh. We thought opponents might zero in on rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey, but they will continue to attack cornerback Brandon Carr.
I am confident the Ravens will win their remaining three games and get into the postseason, but I'm not sure they can beat New England, Pittsburgh or the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Ravens can't stop Brady or Roethlisberger and the Jaguars have too good of a defense. On Sunday night, the Ravens gave up 545 yards of total offense to Pittsburgh and the Steelers were 12 of 18 on third-down conversions. They found the Ravens weakness and then bled them to death.