Ravens are always motivated for the Steelers

Posted at 6:45 PM, Dec 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-22 18:45:57-05

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Though the injury-depleted Baltimore Ravens are short of talent, they won't be lacking incentive Sunday when the Steelers come to town.

"Obviously it's going to be a game that's very important to us," coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "It's a rivalry game. It's the Pittsburgh Steelers. We understand they're coming in here with a lot at stake."

Pittsburgh (9-5) has won three straight and five of six to move into position for at least an AFC wild-card berth. With a victory Sunday and a loss by the New York Jets, the Steelers are in.

The Ravens (4-10), conversely, are assured their worst season since a 5-11 finish in 2007 -- Brian Billick's final year as head coach.

"It's rivalry week, so we don't care what our record is," linebacker Elvis Dumervil said. "We definitely want this one. That's what we'll be working on this week."

Back in October, the Ravens beat Pittsburgh 23-20 in overtime for their first win of the season. The victory gave Baltimore hope that it could rebound from an 0-3 start, but it turned out to be merely a brief escape from a dreadful season filled with injuries, turnovers and defeats.

Several of the Ravens' standouts in that first meeting won't be around for the rematch. Quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Justin Forsett, wide receiver Steve Smith and left tackle Eugene Monroe are among 18 currently players on injured reserve.

The roster shuffle finally caught up to the Ravens two weeks ago, when they lost 35-6 at home to Seattle. On Sunday, Baltimore absorbed a 34-14 drubbing from the visiting Kansas City Chiefs.

The three-game homestand comes to a merciful end Sunday. At this point in the season, Baltimore has little left to play for but pride -- and beating the hated Steelers.

"We're going to keep playing. We're not going to back down," defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said. "They're going to have to take it from us; they're not coming in here and just beating us. We're going to get ready to fight."

When these two teams get together, the scuffling occasionally extends to the stands. Harbaugh knows a solid contingent of Steelers fans will make the trip south, but he's counting on Ravens backers to stand by their team.

"It's our home game, so I expect most of our fans to be there. I think they'll be fired up," Harbaugh said. "One thing I've learned through all this is I don't believe we have fair-weather fans. That's, to me, very evident. I've been grateful for the response our team has gotten."

Pittsburgh leads the series 24-18, including 3-1 in the postseason, but the Ravens beat the Steelers in the playoffs on the road last season before prevailing in October.

Harbaugh said he might wait until Sunday to announce his starting quarterback. Matt Schaub, Jimmy Clausen and Ryan Mallett are all in the mix.

"I don't know who the guy's going to be right now," Harbaugh said.

Shaub has missed two straight games with chest and shoulder injuries. Clausen started in his place but has produced only two touchdowns, and Mallett is still in the process of learning the offense.

Regarding injuries, Harbaugh said tight end Crockett Gillmore (back) is likely done for the season, and cornerback Jimmy Smith, who left in the first quarter Sunday with a thigh bruise, "has a good chance to play" against Pittsburgh.

Related: List: Ravens 19 players on IR

On a lighter note, Harbaugh joked that the Ravens might hold a contest to determine the color of their third set of pants. The team wore gold pants Sunday for the first time, filling out a repertoire that includes black and white, but the mustard-tinted hue did not get solid reviews.

"Uniforms should be fun. We have a look that we're proud of in Baltimore," Harbaugh said. "It stands out, and we want to build on that. But if we can be creative somewhere, I'm all for it."