Steelers WR Antonio Brown poses huge challenge for Ravens
Brown is the prime target for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and leads the NFL with 1,586 receiving yards. Over 10 regular season games, Brown has also caught more passes (50) against the Ravens than any other active wide receiver.
''He's one of the best receivers in the league and we know we have a challenge,'' Ravens safety Kendrick Lewis said. ''They, along with Cincinnati, have the best receiving corp that we are going to face this whole season. We'll go out on the practice field to scheme to limit those big plays.''
The Ravens enter the game with 19 players on Injured Reserve - the most among any team in the league. Baltimore finally got some good news on the injury front, cornerback Jimmy Smith could be available after leaving the game against the Chiefs with a thigh injury.
Still, it's going to be difficult to contain the Steelers' high-flying offense, which has scored at least 30 points in six consecutive games for the first time in their 82-year history. Brown's season-long production has been especially impressive because Roethlisberger missed four games with knee and foot injuries.
Roethlisberger, however, appears healthy and leads the NFL with 337 passing yards per game. Ravens coach John Harbaugh acknowledged matching up with Pittsburgh's quick-strike offense will be a huge challenge for his team.
''It's almost like they don't try to drive the ball down the field,'' Harbaugh said. ''They're just looking for big plays. They're driving the ball down the field in one shot, and (Roethlisberger) is one of the best ever at doing that. And then they've got weapons everywhere, every single position.''
While the Ravens (4-10) are having one of the worst seasons in their 20-year history, Pittsburgh has won five of its past six games. The Steelers (9-5) will clinch a postseason berth with a win against Baltimore and a loss by the New York Jets to the Patriots.
''We understand they're coming in here with a lot at stake, and I'm sure a lot of their fans are going to be trying to get in the stadium as well,'' Harbaugh said.
Baltimore beat Pittsburgh 23-20 in overtime on Oct. 1 to earn its first win of the season. Since then, the Ravens have lost critical players to season-ending injuries, including starting quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Justin Forsett and wide receiver Steve Smith.
Baltimore would take some pride in sweeping the season series against the Steelers.
''It's still our rivalry. It's our division rival,'' Ravens guard Marshal Yanda said. ''We'd love to get after them and beat them. That's all still there, and that's still a great game. I'll be ready to roll.''
The Ravens also want to build some momentum heading into the offseason. They want to prove this disappointing season was an aberration, rather than a new norm.
''It's been a rough year,'' Ravens linebacker Elvis Dumervil said. ''It's the last home game so we want to make sure we go out strong for ours fans.''
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL