OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- In a game of two closely matched teams, the Baltimore Ravens' biggest advantage over the Pittsburgh Steelers is red zone defense. The Ravens have the NFL's best defense inside the 20-yard line, and the Steelers have the league's second-worst offense in that area of the field.
Pittsburgh has scored a touchdown on 42.9 percent of their drives inside the 20. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars are worse at 34.6 percent.
It will be a challenge for the Steelers to improve that mark Thursday night. Baltimore has given up touchdowns inside the 20-yard line only 31 percent of the time (nine touchdowns in 29 red zone drives).
Shutting down teams in the red zone has become a focal point under coach John Harbaugh.
"About the second or third year here, we made a decision that the way football is being played, that people are probably going to move the ball a little bit," Harbaugh said. "But the bottom line is points. Are you going to be more concerned with yards, or are you going to be more concerned with points? I’m not sure why people are so enamored with yards."
Harbaugh added, "Yards are important and they’re valuable, but they keep track of the points on the scoreboard. And you control the points in the red zone, mostly. So, we felt like if we could be great in the red zone, we’d have a chance to control points. So, we practice it every day. It’s something that’s an emphasis for us.”
In last month's meeting between these teams, the Steelers scored a touchdown on one of three trips in the red zone.