Ravens defense pressures Roethlisberger

  • Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (L) is thrown to the ground by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs (55) after just getting off a pass in the first quarter.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (L) is thrown to the… (Reuters photo )
December 05, 2010|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

The Ravens got to Ben Roethlisberger.

With talk all week centering on how the defense would contain the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, the unit sacked Roethlisberger twice, hurried him into some incompletion, and generally prevented him from rolling out of the pocket and extending plays with his legs through the first three quarters of the team's showdown with Pittsburgh at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday night.

When the Ravens did get a shot at bringing down Roethlisberger, they did a decent job of taking him down — a point of emphasis brought up by defensive coordinator Greg Mattison on Thursday.

"You don't try to knock him down," Mattison said. "I think in the years that I've been here there's been a number of times when we have had clean shots on him and we have hit him as hard as we could hit him, and it's like he bounces off of you. Last year was a pretty good example of the guys buying into what we said, and that is: Get him to the ground. Just get him to the ground. Last year when we played against him, the guys did a really good job of keeping him penned in."

Roethlisberger completed 17-of-29 passes for 203 yards and badly overthrew wide receiver Antonio Brown on a deep route that cornerback Josh Wilson intercepted in the second quarter.

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who had sacked Roethlisberger more than any other player in the NFL, registered 1½ sacks Sunday night, sharing a sack in the first quarter with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

Roethlisberger rarely ventured out of the pocket, and one factor could have been Roethlisberger's injured right foot.

Depending on whether you trusted the Steelers (they called it a sprained foot) or the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (the paper said there's a broken bone in the foot), the foot was heavily taped, and Roethlisberger did not appear comfortable trying to run on the foot.

Heap's short night

Tight end Todd Heap injured his right hamstring on the first play of the game and did not return.

Heap injured the hamstring running a seam route that quarterback Joe Flacco overthrew.

Rookie Ed Dickson replaced Heap. Although he dropped a critical pass on third down-and-8 from the Ravens' 22-yard line and was flagged for holding Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley in the first quarter, Dickson did catch two passes for 18 yards, and both completions gave the offense first downs.

Rough night for O- line

While the Ravens offensive line had more positive moments than negative ones, the unit did catch three penalties in the first half.

Left tackle Michael Oher and right guard Chris Chester were both flagged for false starts, and Oher jumped early twice. Chester's occurred while blocking on an extra-point attempt. Oher was also cited for holding in the first quarter, but the penalty was declined.

Flacco was sacked twice, but the first sack was caused by Pittsburgh's tight coverage.

L.McClain takes a seat

Despite his declaration of being healthy and ready to play, fullback Le'Ron McClain was deactivated Sunday night.

McClain had missed two consecutive days of practice because of a sprained left ankle sustained in the team's 17-10 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a week ago. But he returned to practice Friday — albeit on a limited basis — and had said that he was prepared to play although he was listed as questionable in the team's final injury report.

The Ravens also scratched the newly signed Jason McKie, which meant that the team went without a fullback against a Steelers run defense that ranked first in the NFL and a pass-rush unit that was tied for second in the league beforeSunday.

Cundiff on pace for NFL record

With three touchbacks Sunday night, kicker Billy Cundiff continued to rank first in the league with 34 touchbacks. He is on pace to finish the regular season with 45 touchbacks, which would surpass the NFL record of 40 set by the Minnesota Vikings' Mitch Berger in 1998.

It's a remarkable reversal for the six-year veteran whose previous career best was three touchbacks in 2004 and 2006. But putting his name in the record books isn't on the front burner for Cundiff.

"It is a little bit, but we also have to be reasonable, knowing that Mitch Berger did it in a dome," Cundiff said. "So for me, looking at the next five games, at the end of the day, we want to make sure that we win the next five games. Touchbacks are an afterthought. But looking at the schedule, we only play one more game indoors. So it's probably not reasonable to attain that goal. Is it a goal I have? Yes. Is it something that I will probably get? Well, there's a lot of variables in play there."

Trick play goes awry

The Ravens' attempt at a little trickery ended before it started.

On fourth down-and-8 from their own 22-yard line, the Ravens lined up to punt. But long snapper Morgan Cox snapped the ball to safety Haruki Nakamura. But before Nakamura could take off, the play was whistled dead because linebacker and special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo had jumped early.

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