Street Talk ROETHLISBERGER GUTS IT OUT

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BALTIMORE — Despite an aggravated broken foot and a bloody, broken nose twisted awkwardly into a strange shape, Roethlisberger refused to lose.

The gritty signal caller propelled his team into sole possession of first place atop the AFC North.

The Steelers were led by Roethlisberger, who threw the game-winning touchdown pass to fullback Isaac Redman in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

Sacked three times and hit numerous others, Roethlisberger completed 22 of 38 passes for 253 yards as he broke the Ravens’ eight-game home winning streak that dated back to last season.

And Roethlisberger endured a lot of pain on his way to winning the game after being smashed in the face by massive Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata during the first half.

"Sometime in the first half, I got hit in the face," Roethlisberger said. "I didn’t even realize it was that bad until I went over to the sidelines and guys were looking at me funny.

"I looked real quick. It hopefully will be fixed tomorrow. It looks like I just went 12 rounds with (Manny) Pacquiao."

What about the broken foot?

"It hurt a lot, but that broken nose took some of the pain away," Roethlisberger said.

Roethlisberger never missed a snap.

And he engineered a pivotal win despite losing tight end Heath Miller to a concussion and offensive tackle Flozell Adams with a high ankle sprain.

"Ben’s a warrior," wide receiver Hines Ward said. "He’s a winner. He gives us a great chance to win every time. I love the way he plays. We really had a lot of injuries out there tonight, and we just hung in there."

The Ravens tipped their hats to Roethlisberger, extremely respectful of his toughness and ability.

"That’s his thing," said cornerback Josh Wilson, who intercepted Roethlisberger once. "He’s going to get hit, and he’s going to break loose. He’s a tough guy, a great player."

HEAP INJURES HAMSTRING: On the Ravens’ first play from scrimmage, tight end Todd Heap pulled his hamstring and didn’t return.

Heap was running a fly route when he grabbed the back of his leg.

He wasn’t in the locker room after the game. It’s unclear what’s the severity of his injury.

He was replaced by rookie tight end Ed Dickson, who recovered from a drop to finish with three receptions for 21 yards.

“It took us out of one package, so it wasn’t a killer,” Harbaugh said. “I thought the two tight ends did a good job after Ed dropped the first pass. He made some plays for us. I thought he played okay.”

MCCLAIN DEACTIVATED: The Ravens went without a fullback Sunday.

Despite insisting he was ready to play Friday, Pro Bowl fullback Le’Ron McClain was deactivated due to a sprained ankle.

The Ravens didn’t have a true fullback active, also scratching newly-acquired fullback Jason McKie.

[McClain] was a little gimpy,” Harbaugh said. “We worked on the three tight end stuff all week, and we felt like the packages were very similar. What I didn’t want to do is put ourselves in a position to run packages we hadn’t practiced. Plus, the two tight end stuff and the three tight end stuff that we had was pretty good against their outside pass rush.”

BANGED-UP: It was a costly victory for the Steelers, losing punter Daniel Sepulveda for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Sepulveda was able to hold for field goals in the second half, but won’t play again this year.

He’ll need surgery and the Steelers will need to sign a new punter once he’s placed on injured reserve.

This is the second time that Sepulveda has tore his ACL, suffering the same injury two years ago.

He was replaced as the punter by kicker Shaun Suisham after he injured his knee Sunday night. Sepulveda had been averaging 45.5 yards per punt this season.

"Danny has got an ACL injury, that’s unfortunate of course," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "He wanted to help his teammates. He was able to hold for the remainder of the game. Respect him for that. Of course, we’ve got to get that looked at and fixed."

Besides quarterback Ben Roethlisberger breaking his nose on a Haloti Ngata hit, offensive tackle Flozell Adams left the game with a high ankle sprain and tight end Heath Miller suffered a concussion on a crushing tackle from inside linebacker Jameel McClain.

"A laundry list of injuries," Tomlin said. "Ben’s got a broken nose. He’s going to be fine other than the discomfort that comes with that. I’m sure there will be more bumps and bruises. It always is when these two teams come together."

McClain declined to comment after the game.

TOUGH NIGHT: The Ravens’ pass protection wasn’t particularly sharp, allowing four sacks and eight quarterback hits.

Offensive tackle Michael Oher was penalized for false starts and a holding penalty. The holding infraction was declined.

Oher was playing with a sprained knee.

He said the Ravens weren’t surprised by the Steelers’ pass rush schemes.

“No, we’d basically seen everything and I think we did a pretty good job of picking up everything,” Oher said.

However, the Ravens failed to block strong safety Troy Polamalu in the fourth quarter when he blitzed and forced Flacco to fumble.

“I don’t know, we’ve probably got to watch film on it,” Oher said. “He’s a great player. We’ve got to account for 43 at all times, we can’t let him get out of our sights. So, we’ve just got to watch film and look to see what we did wrong.”

MILESTONE: Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh passed the 7,000-yard receiving mark for his career with his eight-yard reception.

TRICKERY: The Ravens tried to run a fake punt where long snapper Morgan Cox snapped it directly to safety Haruki Nakamura. Nakamura was set to run for a first down when the play was blown dead because of linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo jumping offsides.

QUICK HITS: The Ravens deactivated McClain, McKie, cornerback Cary Williams, linebackers Jason Phillips and Dannell Ellerbe, defensive tackle Arthur Jones and Lamar Divens and offensive guard Bryan Mattison. … Safety Tom Zbikowski returned after missing five games with a bruised right heel. Chris Chester started at right guard after missing the previous two games with a lower leg infection. … Dawan Landry (concussion) and Oher both played after suffering injuries last week. … The Steelers deactivated running back Jonathan Dwyer, cornerback Crezdon Butler, offensive tackles Tony Hills and Chris Scott, defensive end Steve McClendon, tight end Matt Spaeth, defensive end Aaron Smith and third quarterback Charlie Batch.” … The Ravens limited wide receiver Hines Ward to one reception for 13 yards. Ward criticized Harbaugh for giving him a “fake handshake” during the previous game at Heinz Field. … The Ravens distributed purple towels to fans, reacting to the Steelers’ traditional terrible towels. … Steelers owner Dan Rooney flew in for the game from Ireland, where he’s the United States’ ambassador. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti made it a point to seek out Rooney in the press box prior to kickoff. … Middle linebacker Ray Lewis, running back Ray Rice, Heap and free safety Ed Reed were the Ravens’ game captains for the coin toss. .. The Ravens wore purple jerseys and black pants, a color configuration unseen in Baltimore since 1998, according to equipment manager Ed Carroll. … Cornerback Lardarius Webb had a 35-yard punt return. … In the last 16 regular season games dating back to 2003, Baltimore and Pittsburgh have each won eight times. In five of the last six games, the margin of victory has been only three points. The other game was a four-point difference. … In his last nine home games, Joe Flacco is 8-1 and has thrown 17 touchdowns and just one interception. Flacco has at least one touchdown pass in seven consecutive games this season, tying the second-best streak of his career. … Anquan Boldin finished with the 30th 100-yard game of his career, catching five passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. … Kicker Billy Cundiff booted three touchbacks. He leads the NFL with 34 touchbacks.

 

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