Roethlisberger earns Ravens' respect

| Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- And to think the address for the Baltimore Ravens' practice facility - better described as a secluded castle nestled deep in the Maryland woods - is 1 Winning Drive.

Suffice it to say, it wasn't named after what Ben Roethlisberger did to Baltimore on Dec. 14 at M&T Bank Stadium.

But the Ravens haven't forgotten.

"In that drive, (there was) something we don't do," Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said. "And that's just let people run free. And on that drive, that's something that happened like three times."

With 3:32 to play and the Steelers trailing by three points, Roethlisberger led the Steelers on a meticulous, 92-yard, 12-play drive, with Santonio Holmes catching a controversial 4-yard touchdown - one that needed an extra day of review before the NFL could confirm it was the right call.

Holmes caught the ball with two feet inside the goal line, but the ball barely broke the plane. It was reviewed, and the original call was reversed.

Touchdown. Steelers 13, Ravens 9.

"As far as whether the ball hit the plane or not, we couldn't care less," Harbaugh said. "That's ancient history."

Lewis said the Ravens aren't dwelling too much on the scoring drive, even though it's the longest one they allowed all year.

"As soon as the game is over, you're over (something like that)," Lewis said. "In this business, you take the good with the bad. You grab your corrections and make sure it doesn't happen again."

Still, the wild-card Ravens know they can't sit back, let Roethlisberger sling and fling, and allow the Steelers to have their way again - especially at crunch time -- when the teams meet in the AFC Championship Game at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at Heinz Field.

"The key to both games (against Pittsburgh) is that they made the plays and we haven't," Ravens tackle Willie Anderson said. "That's why they're a good football team. They kept us from making plays. That drive ... this game could be completely different."

Tight end Todd Heap agrees regarding the two meetings, which were decided by a combined seven points.

"We're not even thinking about the last two times we played them," Heap said. "You can't worry about that. You have to worry about the next play."

The consensus in the Ravens' locker room is that they have to - surprise -- contain Roethlisberger, who has completed 36 of 64 passes for 447 yards in the previous two meetings.

Not just contain him, but pressure him, baffle him and leave him wondering what went wrong.

That may be the way to exact revenge, and do so with a trip to Tampa for Super Bowl XLIII on the line.

Roethlisberger, and a strong defense, helped lead the Steelers from 10 points down in a 23-20 overtime win in Week 4.

There was no bounty talk Wednesday, but the Ravens did talk about the respect they have for Big Ben - even though they want to ring his bell.

"He's the ultimate competitor," Lewis said of Roethlisberger. "He plays football the way old-school people play football. Just make the play. It don't have to be pretty. He is going to go out and do anything to keep his team motivated and move the chains, and things like that. That's probably one of the greatest assets he has, is really keeping a play going."

Ravens first-year coach John Harbaugh also was complimentary of Roethlisberger.

"He's big and strong, and he's fearless," Harbaugh said. "And he can throw the ball on time. He can scramble and make plays on the run. He's probably the most accurate quarterback on the run in the league right now. There are just a lot of things to defend with Ben."

The Steelers, meanwhile, hope to wear down an already tired team. The Ravens have played 18 consecutive weeks without a bye. Their Sept. 14 game at Houston was postponed due to Hurricane Ike, and the game was made up during Baltimore's bye week.

"Well, we did get a bye day because we played (last) Saturday," Heap said.

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