He may be biased, but in Ravens Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda's eyes, Baltimore's offense begins with the offensive line.
It's no coincidence that the Ravens' four-game losing streak has coincided with injury problems on the front line. Rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley missed all four losses with a foot injury and Yanda sat out the back-to-back flops at MetLife Stadium with a shoulder injury.
The Ravens have shuffled players out of position and rotated in backups, and it hasn't worked – at least not well enough.
Now with Yanda and Stanley both back as full practice participants, it appears the Ravens will have their starting offensive line on the field for the first time since Sept. 25. And they're hoping it helps get their offense on track.
"Obviously, in the NFL, it starts up front winning the line of scrimmage," Yanda said Wednesday.
"When we do that we usually have success. When we don't do that and don't protect the quarterback, things usually don't go our way. It starts up front every week, especially in our division, and we understand that for sure."
There's no doubt the Ravens are better with Stanley and Yanda on the field. But they still had trouble preventing pressure even before injuries knocked them out.
The Ravens gave up 23 quarterback hits and 11 sacks in the first three weeks. They surrendered 27 hits and nine sacks over the next four weeks.
Quarterback Joe Flacco hasn't handled pressure well so far this season. He is ranked No. 23 in the NFL in quarterback rating when under pressure (54.1), according to Pro Football Focus. He's been under pressure the 11th-most times in the league, on 36.3 percent of his dropbacks.
"No matter what, protecting the quarterback is very important," Yanda said. "Obviously, we haven't been getting that done as well as we would have liked. We're excited about the challenge. We're excited about keeping him clean and letting him play his game."
Flacco said he doesn't think too much about how two of his starting offensive linemen* *are returning, which also puts another, rookie fourth-round pick Alex Lewis, back in his natural position at left guard. It's like a three-man switch.
"I think it'll definitely be a help," Flacco said. "We still have to go out there and play, but it's definitely nice to have those guys back."
It's more than just a matter of protecting Flacco. With the Ravens' starting offensive line returning, they're hoping they can turn the running attack up a notch.
Baltimore was starting to have success against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants, but fell flat versus the New York Jets, in which they ran for a franchise-low 11 yards.
The Steelers may be susceptible to the run. New England's LeGarrette Blount rumbled for 127 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries in Week 7. Miami's Jay Ajayi ripped off 204 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries the week before.
The Ravens could take some pressure off their passing attack if they can establish the run against Pittsburgh.
"They know that we're going to come in and try to run the ball," Yanda said. "We understand that they're going to be ready for us, but that's us wining our battles up front. Sometimes it's not about them knowing the play, it's about us beating our guys one-on-one and winning the block physically."