The two outside linebackers (who posted 20.5 combined sacks this season) are the key cogs in the Steelers’ vaunted pass rush, and they force teams to adjust their protection schemes and keep in extra bodies to help account for the pressure coming in off the edges. That often leaves three - or sometimes even just two - receivers going out into routes.
For the most part, the Steelers keep Woodley on the left side of their defensive line and Harrison on the right, meaning Yanda will square off against Woodley for much of the game on Saturday, and Oher will see a lot of Harrison.
Woodley is a bigger guy at 6-foot-2, 265 lbs., while Harrison is a more compact 6-foot, 242 lbs. Yanda says both outside linebackers have a dangerous mix of strength and speed, but he’s grown used to seeing Woodley try and overpower him.
“Woodley’s got a bull rush and he’s really strong and can work the edges, too,” Yanda said. “He kind of lulls you to sleep by trying to bull you, bull you, bull you, and if you can’t stop the bull, then he’s going to run you over all day. When you get him stopped a little bit, then he’s going to work his hands. He’s a football player. He’s an athlete. If you set for the edge and Woodley gets under your pads, then you’re going back. That’s just the way it goes with him.”
As for Harrison, he’s got the power as well, but often uses his trademark spin move to catch offensive linemen off guard.
“The good defensive ends have more than one move, just like Harrison has got a spin move and the speed up the field,” Yanda said. “Some guys only have a bull rush or can only work the edge and can’t run you over, so you set the edge and if he tries to run you over you gather and stop him.
“They have leverage, especially Harrison. They’re built for leverage, power and speed. They’re probably the best tandem in the league no doubt.”
The Ravens have seen Harrison and Woodley so many times over the years that for the most part, they have a good handle on what each guy brings to the table both from a physical standpoint and a scheme standpoint.
There won’t be a ton of surprises on Saturday, but Oher says the Steelers do a good job of showing a different wrinkle with their pass rushers each time out.
“Their defensive coordinator does a great job of throwing so many different looks at you, that at practice, you have to go over a lot of extra things to find one defense they’re going to throw at you, and you might not see it,” Oher said. “So you’ve got to make sure you’ve got everything down pat and try to identify what you can.”
Said coach John Harbaugh: “You kind of know their game; you understand the way they rush the passer. But there’s always something different. They put them in some different spot; they bring them in from some different place every single game. We’ll have to see what the plan is this week.”