Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes in a run-heavy offense before being pulled from the Pittsburgh Steelers' 20-7 victory over the Baltimore Ravens yesterday with an...
PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes in a run-heavy offense before being pulled from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 20-7 victory over the Baltimore Ravens yesterday with an unspecified rib injury.
Pittsburgh (14-1) wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs and a first-round bye. But a team already playing without six injured regulars suffered two more injuries, as Roethlisberger and cornerback Deshea Townsend (broken hand) left in the fourth quarter.
“We have a lot of guys hurt right now, but now we control our own destiny,” wide receiver Hines Ward said. “Now teams are going to have to come in and deal with the weather, the field and our fans. You couldn’t ask for a better situation.”
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Except to be healthier.
Roethlisberger was assisted off the field after being leveled by Terrell Suggs on a 2-yard touchdown pass to Jerame Tuman. Suggs was penalized for roughing the passer.
Roethlisberger returned to complete throws of 26 yards to Plaxico Burress and 9 to Jerome Bettis on Pittsburgh’s next drive early in the fourth quarter. But the quarterback was replaced by Tommy Maddox midway through the drive because, coach Bill Cowher said, “He grimaced every time he threw it.”
Roethlisberger’s injury was the lone worrisome note for the Steelers as they ran their franchise-record winning streak to 13 games and all but eliminated the Ravens (8-7) from playoff contention.
“You don’t like to lose, especially in this environment, in what pretty much is a playoff game for us,” Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller said.
Roethlisberger (14 of 19, 211 yards, one interception) probably won’t play Sunday in Buffalo, but none of his teammates seemed overly concerned.
“Ben’s a tough guy, and I’m not worried at all about Ben,” Bettis said. “He wanted to keep going. He’s a competitor.”
Coincidentally, Roethlisberger became Pittsburgh’s starter when Maddox hurt his right elbow Sept. 19 against the Ravens. Maddox did not play again until yesterday.
Bettis ran for 117 yards in his sixth 100-yard game this season — all in place of Duce Staley (hamstring), who sat out for the sixth time in eight games. Bettis also moved past Eric Dickerson to fourth on the NFL career rushing list, with 13,294 yards. He needs 60 yards for his ninth 1,000-yard season.
“To go past Eric Dickerson is amazing, considering my role (as a backup) when the season started,” Bettis said.
The Steelers are assured of matching the best record in franchise history (14-2 in 1978) even if they lose at Buffalo.
“They’ve been on a roll, and it doesn’t seem like they’re stopping,” Ravens safety Ed Reed said.