Monday, September 29, 2008
Tonight at 8:30 in front of a national audience, Rashard Mendenhall makes his NFL debut as the Steelers starting running back after an injury last week to Steelers starter Willie Parker. Parker sustained a knee injury late in the game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
For the Steelers, the Mendenhall start comes at a time when the offense is already struggling with pass protection issues for Ben Rothleisberger. Big Ben was sacked and pressured all over the field in their loss to the Eagles and the Ravens have historically had one of the league's most agressive defenses.
An even bigger potential problem for the Black & Gold could be Mendenhall's propensity to cough up the football. Rest assured, the Ravens will be slapping at the ball all night long.
Not to be overlooked is the other mismatch in this contest: Baltimore's rookie quarterback Joe Flacco against the always-rugged Steelers defense in a particularly-hostile environment: Heinz Field on a Monday Night. The Steelers have won a record 13 straight on Monday Night Football and the matchups should make for compelling football viewing. Prediction: Steelers by 10 as their defense proves to be too much for Flacco. Mendenhall will rush for 65 yards and one score. He will fumble once. Big Ben and the Steelers will enjoy good field position all night. Final score Pittsburgh 20, Ravens 10.