Ravens are ahead of the Steelers, but change can come quickly
NEW ORLEANS — It can change that quickly.
Two months and three days since the Steelers won at Baltimore behind Charlie Batch, the Ravens — despite losing four of five to end the season — are Super Bowl champions.
“This has been a long journey, and I don't think it would be quite as enjoyable as it would have been if we hadn't gone through all this stuff,” quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco said Monday.
With the Steelers facing major issues at wide receiver, running back and possibly cornerback, the question is whether the Ravens — by winning their second Super Bowl — have lengthened the distance that already existed between the two rivals.
When the Ravens won their other Super Bowl in 2000, they were 12-4 and the Steelers were third at 9-7. But a season later, the Steelers went 13-3 to the Ravens' 10-6 and beat Baltimore in the playoffs.
So how do the Ravens and Steelers match up right now for 2013?
QUARTERBACK: Flacco will be back with the Ravens, even if it costs them about $20 million. He said Monday he wants to be “a Raven for life.” Ben Roethlisberger has won two Super Bowls.
RUNNING BACK: The Steelers are coming off their second-worst rushing season in 30 years and don't have a clear-cut lead runner. The Ravens bring back two Pro Bowlers: Ray Rice and fullback Vonta Leach.
WIDE RECIEVER: Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin and Jacoby Jones all return on a Ravens offense on which only left tackle Bryant McKinnie is an unrestricted free agent. The Steelers might lose top downfield threat Mike Wallace.
OFFENSIVE LINE: The Steelers could lose two of their steadiest players regardless of position in Max Starks and Ramon Foster, leaving them with potentially their most inexperienced lines in years. Guards Kelechi Osemele and Marshal Yanda, center Matt Birk and right tackle Michael Oher all return on the Ravens line.
DEFENSIVE LINE: The Steelers are expected to shed Casey Hampton, which puts even more pressure on Ziggy Hood, Cam Heyward and Steve McLendon to produce. All the Ravens' starters are back.
LINEBACKERS: Once the Steelers' strength, they need LaMarr Woodley to have a bounce back year and James Harrison to stay healthy. Larry Foote may leave. For the Ravens, 13-time Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis will retire, and inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe is an unrestricted free agent.
SECONDARY: The Ravens face a potential shakeup with cornerback Cary Williams and safety Ed Reed both unrestricted free agents. Cornerback Corey Graham and safety Bernard Pollard return. Steelers safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark are getting older but both figure to start next season unless a surprise move is made. Cornerback Keenan Lewis could leave as an unrestricted free agent.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The punters and kickers for both teams are under contract.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ex-Baldwin, Pitt star Pinkston not giving up on NFL dream
- NFL notebook: Goodell won’t recuse himself from Brady’s appeal
- Starkey: NFL’s extra-point ‘debate’ a farce
- NFL notebook: Land deal closes for planned stadium near Los Angeles
- NFL notebook: Goodell wants to hear directly from Brady regarding appeal