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NFL Playoffs, Steelers Vs. Ravens: Pittsburgh's Defense Owns Joe Flacco

The Pittsburgh Steelers simply own Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Granted, like pretty much every statistical claim about the NFL, we're dealing with a very small sample here, and three of Flacco's seven career games against the Steelers came in his rookie year, when you expect most quarterbacks to experience growing pains - especially against what ended up being a Super Bowl defense in 2008.

What's more, Flacco had a pretty great year in 2010, by just about any measurement. He completed nearly 63 percent of his passes at 7.4 yards per attempt and posted a nice TD:INT ratio of 2.5. Flacco's regular season quarterback rating on the year was 93.6. He's clearly made strides toward becoming the kind of quarterback that could give Pittsburgh's defense fits in the future.

But the Ravens need him to be that guy now.

What I'm saying isn't that Flacco can't  or won't have a good showing against the Steelers this Saturday, when the divisional rivals clash for a chance to play in the AFC Championship game. What I'm saying is that he hasn't yet. Check out Flacco's game log against the Steelers:

Comp. Attempts % Yards YPA TD INT Sacked Fumbles
Week 4, 2008 16 31 51.6 192 6.19 1 0 5 2
Week 15, 2008 11 28 39.3 115 4.11 0 2 2 1
AFC Championship, 2008 13 30 43.3 141 4.70 0 3 3 0
Week 12, 2009 23 35 65.7 289 8.26 1 0 5 2
Week 16, 2009 13 25 52.0 166 6.64 2 1 4 1
Week 4, 2010 24 37 64.9 256 6.92 1 1 1 1
Week 13, 2010 17 33 51.5 266 8.06 1 0 4 1

So in seven contests against the Black & Gold, Flacco has accumulated a mere 204 yards per game at 6.5 yard per attempt. He's completed just 53.4 percent of his passes and has a TD:INT ratio of 0.86. Perhaps the most telling statistics, in my opinion, show how Pittsburgh's pass rush has consistently gotten to Flacco. They average almost 3.5 sacks and more than one Flacco fumble per game.

Clearly the Ravens don't need Flacco to perform against the Steelers like Tom Brady did in Week 10 to secure a Baltimore victory. (After all, two of the above seven games were Ravens wins.) Nonetheless, expect good things from a Steelers defense that's well-rested and hungry to advance to their second conference championship in the last three years.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.