The Pittsburgh Steelers suffered a long losing streak in the not too distant past against the Baltimore Ravens, which they have fortunately been able to correct over the past few matchups. While they have won the three most recent head-to-head games, the Ravens won the previous four, and six of the prior seven.
And one of the reasons for that was the defensive play of their AFC North adversaries. In those losses, the Steelers never scored more than 20 points, in one instance scoring as few as six. In most instances, the Ravens did not put up many more points, with the majority being one-possession games.
Perhaps it is worth noting that in two of the Steelers’ last three games against the Ravens—again, all wins—Baltimore was missing its top cornerback, Jimmy Smith. And in the other game, Smith was battling injuries, only playing 70 percent of the snaps.
That will be the case once again for the first game of the season between the two teams, as Smith has officially been suspended for the first four games of the 2018 regular season. The Steelers host the Ravens in Week Four on Sunday Night Football.
The Ravens moved then-rookie Marlon Humphrey into the starting lineup late last season after Smith suffered a season-ending injury, with Brandon Carr on the opposite side. When they faced the Steelers late in the year, Pittsburgh put up 39 points on one of the best defenses in the league, Antonio Brown exploding for 213 yards working against Carr.
Carr was set to be demoted this season with Humphrey and Smith starting, but he will have to start for the first quarter of the season, as I wrote about previously. Now that we know the length of Smith’s suspension, we know that he will miss the first game against the Steelers.
Smith is being suspended for violating the personal conduct policy. According to the team, “the NFL found evidence of threatening and emotionally abusive behaviors by Jimmy toward his former girlfriend that showed a pattern of improper conduct. Our player’s behavior was inappropriate and wrong”.
The Ravens obviously have a history of dealing with players who have had domestic disputes, and got into an awful lot of trouble over how they handled it. Just ask Ray Rice.
The organization says that they “consulted with relationship and domestic violence experts for their perspectives. We convened a group of Ravens women and men executives, not directly involved with our football operations, to review the matter. We also engaged in conversations with Jimmy about his past behavior and his intention to change”
As a result of this research, they concluded that they would allow Smith to return to the team following his suspension, in part due to Smith’s remorse that he has displayed over his past actions and the fact that he has agreed “to undertake any follow-up care or treatment that may be recommended”.