Ravens Prep For Steelers’ Spread Passing

Pittsburgh’s throwing the ball more than ever with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Saturday, November 5th, 2011 at 10:29 am | Categories: Ryan Mink, Week 9 vs Steelers

Much like the Ravens, the Steelers’ offense has been long known for three yards and a cloud of dust.

But these aren’t your father’s Steelers.

And that’s not the Pittsburgh offense the Ravens are expecting to see at Heinz Field on Sunday.

The Steelers are throwing the ball more than ever before during the Ben Roethlisberger era, thanks in part to a deeper and more talented wide receiver corps than they’ve had in years.

Asked whether he expects Pittsburgh to spread his defense out, Ravens Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano said “absolutely.”

“They’ve done it to us in the past,” Pagano said. “So, we’re fully expecting them to – not only try to pound the rock, but spread us out, go hurry-up, go no-huddle. So, we’re ready for all that stuff.”

Big Ben is on pace to throw the ball 568 times, 62 more times than his previous career high in 2009.

He’s coming off a season-high 50-pass performance against the New England Patriots. The Steelers threw the ball 71 percent of the time against New England and still possessed the ball for more than 39 minutes. Roethlisberger completed 36 passes.

The Steelers have passed the ball in four-wide sets 117 times this season – more often than they have from three or two-wide sets. They’ve gone three-wide 109 times.

Pittsburgh will be somewhat limited without wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who had 18 receptions this season. He has been ruled out due to his mother’s death this week and a knee injury.

But they still have plenty of weapons in Mike Wallace – one of the NFL’s premier deep threats – veteran Hines Ward and youngster Antonio Brown. Wallace already has 800 yards receiving, and this week Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb said Brown is even better.

“There are other teams that aren’t capable of spreading you out,” Ravens cornerback Chris Carr said. “They are because they have a lot of depth. Whenever you have four or five legit wide receivers and you know they can pass it to any one of them, it’s fun for DBs because you know you may have a lot of passes coming your way.”

Still, not everybody in the Ravens’ facility expects Pittsburgh to be unleashing the passing attack against Baltimore’s No. 3-ranked pass defense. Every week is different, and the Ravens have a much stronger pass defense than New England, for example.

And the Steelers do have a top-flight running back in Rashard Mendenhall waiting in the backfield.

“I am expecting traditional Steelers, or Ravens-Steelers – smash-mouth, powers, punches, jokers – not so much in the passing game until they have to throw it,” outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “That first drive, I am expecting it to be very physical.”

Tags: , ,