Mother Nature Will Add Nastiness To Heinz Field


Ravens-Steelers rivalry games always have a certain level of nastiness.

Now Mother Nature is getting in on the action.

There's a 100 percent chance of rain in Saturday's forecast for Pittsburgh. The rainfall could reach an inch once the game kicks off at 8:15 p.m. Winds are expected to be between 10 and 20 miles per hour.

With Heinz Field already having a poor playing surface (the natural grass at this time of year is chewed up and soft), footing will be even more difficult to find.

"It's terrible, man. They need to go ahead and put some turf on there or something," wide receiver Torrey Smith said with a laugh. "I heard the weather is going to be a little suspect, too, so that's all fine and dandy."

Whenever there's bad weather, it's always a question of which team it favors.

The Ravens have played well in such conditions before late in the season. They beat the Denver Broncos in one of the coldest games in history during the Super Bowl run in 2012. Baltimore won in a blizzard against the Minnesota Vikings last season.

Sloppy weather often means more touches for running backs, as it's difficult for precisely timed passing games to work. Ravens running back Justin Forsett said he loves rain games because it usually means more running, "but you never know."

If both teams have to rely more heavily on the ground attack, it could be an advantage for Baltimore considering Steelers Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell might not be able to suit up due to his knee injury.

Head Coach John Harbaugh doesn't think it will fall on the running backs, however.

"I think both these quarterbacks are good bad-weather quarterbacks," he said. "That's why they're both successful in the AFC North."

Harbaugh and Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak said they won't change their game plan because of the weather. If it gets really out of hand, Harbaugh said there are some contingency plans they could employ during the game.

"I like to think that our schemes are weather proof," he said. "We can handle whatever weather we get."

"Watching Joe throw out here in some of the weather and the rain that we've played in, it has not been an issue at all," Kubiak added. "I don't think it changes anything we do."

Harbaugh said he goes back and forth on whether it's an advantage for defenses or offenses.

"Some days you feel like it's an advantage to the defense because maybe they can't throw it quite as well," Harbaugh said. "Other times you think it's an advantage to the offense because they know where they're cutting and braking and things like that."

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