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News » Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-12-12

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-12-12

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-12-12
When the Ravens (9-4) play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3), there's more on the line than bad blood.

The latest grudge match between AFC North rivals could have serious playoff consequences.

"Since the 2006 playoff game (against the Colts], this is probably the biggest game I've played in," Ravens defensive end-linebacker Terrell Suggs said.

If the Steelers win, they would clinch the division title because it would give them a two-game lead with two regular-season games remaining. Even if the Ravens and Pittsburgh would finish with the same records, the Steelers would own the first tiebreaker (sweeping the head-to-head meetings).

If the Ravens win, they would tie Pittsburgh atop the AFC North but they would still need help in the final two weeks to capture the division.

Even if the Steelers would lose to the Ravens, they could win the division by winning their final two games (at Tennessee and home against Cleveland). That would give Pittsburgh the AFC North title by virtue of a better conference record.

"We know our opponent this week; we know what's at stake," wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "Every time we encounter them, something is at stake. That's why it's so heated because you have two teams that pride themselves on playing hard, fast, physical football. When you have them come together, it's going to make for a very good game."

The Ravens need some help, but they could clinch a playoff spot Sunday.

Here are the scenarios to secure a postseason berth:

--The Ravens need to beat the Steelers and they need the New England Patriots to lose along with another loss by either the New York Jets or Miami Dolphins.

--The Ravens need to beat the Steelers in addition to the Jets, Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts all losing.

All four of those teams -- the Patriots, Dolphins, Jets and Colts -- are favored to win Sunday.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he doesn't care if his players consider the playoff scenarios but he won't discuss it in front of his team.

"It's really not pertinent to what we have to get done," Harbaugh said. "We have to win, just like everybody else. What have we done? We've earned the right to play one more meaningful game in December. That's something to be proud of."

The winner of this game likely will be determined by defense. This matches up the two best in the NFL.

The Steelers, who are No. 1 overall in defense, rank first against the run and the pass. The Ravens, who rank No. 2 overall in defense, are second in the same categories.

But Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said he doesn't look at the statistics.

"The year we won the Super Bowl (2000), we got into that battle with Tennessee -- we're No. 1, they're No. 1," Lewis said. "It means nothing at the end of the day. If you get caught up in all of those numbers, it's going to get you in trouble sooner or later."

SERIES HISTORY: 26th regular-season meeting. Steelers lead series, 15-10. Earlier this season (Sept. 29), the Ravens lost 23-20 in overtime after failing to hold a 10-point lead in the second half. The key play in overtime came on third-and-8, when fourth-string running back Mewelde Moore delivered a 24-yard catch to set up Jeff Reed's 46-yard game-winning field goal. The Ravens have won the last five meetings in Baltimore.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 12, 2008

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