There’s a lot of discussion about which Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback may or may not be the first one off the bench Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens, but if that game goes similar to the way the first meeting between the two teams went back in Week 2, there’s a good chance we won’t see much of any third cornerback.
In the Steelers 26-6 loss to the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium back in Week 2, the Steelers only had their nickel defense on the field for 15 snaps in that game. The rest of the snaps were either base or goal-line packages.
The Ravens haven’t used a lot of three wide receiver packages on offense so far this season as they choose instead to use multiple tight ends or one tight end and one fullback. In fact Ravens fullback Kyle Juszczyk has already played 249 of 554 snaps so far this season.
If the Steelers defense can figure out a way to shut down the Ravens outside zone runs this time around, they might be able to force a few more third and longs Sunday night. That’s when the Steelers defense is most likely going to have to use their nickel package, but the down and distance should result in a better pass rush in those situations.
In my opinion, this game sets up good defensively for the Steelers as we might not have to see very much of Antwon Blake or Cortez Allen Sunday night. Blake looks like he will be the third cornerback off of the bench this week and that means he will play opposite William Gay in the Steelers nickel package with Brice McCain manning the slot.
In the first meeting against the Ravens, Joe Flacco was 5-of-9 passing on third downs for 57 yards. Four of those five completions resulted in first downs.