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Ravens keep QB Dixon's running in check

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Monday, Nov. 30, 2009

BALTIMORE — Ben Roethlisberger and Dennis Dixon couldn't be more opposite as quarterbacks.

Their size alone suggests that: Roethlisberger is 6-foot-5, 241 pounds; Dixon is listed at 6-3, 209.

But when it comes to the Baltimore Ravens, you defend one the same way you defend the other.

Baltimore prepared all week long to make sure they kept Roethlisberger in the pocket because once he is on the move, that's when he becomes most dangerous.

You would figure when the Ravens found out Saturday that Roethlisberger wasn't going to play Sunday that it would change their game plan.

It didn't.

Baltimore knew the way Dixon could hurt them the most was with his feet — but in a different way.

Dixon scrambles to run, and Roethlisberger scrambles to throw.

The Ravens made sure Dixon's scramble-to-runs were held to a minimum, which helped them beat the Steelers, 20-17, in overtime Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

"He got out on us a couple of times," outside linebacker Jarrett Johnson said. "It shows how athletic he is. We didn't know how he was going to react throwing the ball under the lights and everything. The thing he was going to be able to resort to was his legs."

For the most part, the Ravens didn't allow that. Dixon carried the ball three times for 27 yards.

"Their quarterback is a player," Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. "We couldn't allow him to get loose."

The Ravens allowed him to get loose once, and it resulted in a 24-yard touchdown run. The other two carries were quarterback sneaks.

"We had an all-out blitz called and they executed it well," Harbaugh said about the touchdown. "He made a great play."

Baltimore hasn't had any experience this year dealing with a quarterback who could also run.

They've played against Brodie Croyle, Philip Rivers, Derek Anderson, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Brett Favre, Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn.

Palmer had the most luck with 18 yards on five carries, but he would never be mistaken for a running quarterback. Palmer averages 3.2 yards per game over his career.

Dixon was the best running QB the Ravens faced this year.

At Oregon, keeping Dixon inside the pocket was difficult. He set a school record with 1,208 rushing yards. Dixon had 199 rushing attempts the two years he started at Oregon and nine rushing touchdowns in his senior season.

Against the Ravens, he had a scramble for 31 yards, which was nullified because of a hold by center Justin Hartwig. He has two quarterback sneaks that went for first downs — one was a 2-yard sneak on a third-and-1 midway through the fourth quarter; the other went for a yard and a first down early in overtime.

"Roethlisberger scrambles to throw," Johnson said. "Dixon does a little bit of both. He is going to get out and take off."

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