Steelers' Roethlisberger stands tall in lopsided win
The Ravens got Ben Roethlisberger on the ground again Monday night, but by the time they did so the Steelers led, 21-0.
Baltimore sacked Big Ben again late in the second quarter, an accomplishment linebacker Terrell Suggs felt compelled to celebrate even though the Ravens were trailing, 35-7.
It ended with the Steelers winning, 38-7, in a Monday night/75th season celebration at Heinz Field that exorcised completely those Baltimore demons that had been haunting the Steelers since last season.
The Steelers struck quickly and they struck repeatedly.
And this time it was the Ravens who helplessly accepted the beating.
The Steelers know the feeling.
They had been on the receiving end of 27-0 and 31-7 drubbings administered by Baltimore just a season ago, routs during which the Ravens had pillaged and plundered the Steelers' pocket and sacked Roethlisberger a combined 14 times.
This time, it was a sack the Ravens didn't get that set the tone and ignited a blowout.
The Steelers faced a third-and-7 from the Ravens' 17 three snaps after their second possession had commenced with, of all things, a sack of Steve McNair, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Ravens defensive tackle Trevor Pryce had a golden opportunity to return the favor, but Roethlisberger ducked out of an attempted shoulder tackle, scrambled left and found tight end Heath Miller in the end zone.
The next time the Steelers got the ball they were forced to punt, but linebacker James Harrison -- who had an all-time first half in the presence of the Steelers' All-Time Team -- forced a fumble that the Steelers recovered on the Baltimore 28.
This time, a second-and-7 ended up in the end zone when blitzing linebacker Ray Lewis was ably blocked by running back Willie Parker, which afforded Roethlisberger the time to connect with wide receiver Santonio Holmes.
That, in a nutshell, was your first half.
The Steelers turned McNair, a former nemesis, into a sitting duck. They sacked him three times in the opening 30 minutes, forced two fumbles, drew one intentional grounding penalty and registered an interception.
Running back Willis McGahee and return man Ed Reed also fumbled in the first two quarters.
Roethlisberger, conversely, was able to attack a Ravens secondary cobbled together without starting cornerbacks Samari Rolle and Chris McAlister and scorch it even though the Steelers never did get anything going on the ground.
Roethlisberger surpassed or equaled the career exploits of Terry Bradshaw, Bobby Layne, Bubby Brister, Neil O'Donnell, Kordell Stewart and Mark Malone while forcing repeated alterations to the Steelers' record book.
The need for a complete reprinting was averted when Roethlisberger was knocked from the game with 6:04 left in the third quarter by a shove from Suggs on a 45-yard completion to Holmes.
Roethlisberger went down and stayed down, and he eventually received extensive medical attention upon being helped to the Steelers' bench.
He emerged gimpy from a hip injury but intact enough to throw a few passes on the sideline prior to having a brief chat with head coach Mike Tomlin.
Roethlisberger returned with 14:14 left in the fourth quarter to play one more series.
The game ended as it began, with Big Ben still standing.