OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) The Baltimore Ravens won’t drastically alter their game plan Sunday night just because Ben Roethlisberger threw for 522 yards and six touchdowns last week.
Harassing and containing Roethlisberger would have been a priority regardless of how the Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback fared in a 51-34 rout of Indianapolis.
”We knew before they even played that game that we were going to have to be on point in the secondary,” Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb said Wednesday.
Then, referring to Roethlisberger by his jersey number, Webb added, ”It’s always been: Stop 7. If we can stop 7, we can win the game.”
That’s what the Ravens did in a 26-6 victory over Pittsburgh last month. Roethlisberger was sacked twice, threw an interception and had only 217 yards passing in the lopsided defeat.
”It’s how you execute,” Baltimore safety Matt Elam said. ”We executed well in that first game, and that’s how we held them to no touchdowns.”
In the rematch, the Ravens (5-3) will be without cornerback Jimmy Smith, who sprained his left foot Sunday in a 27-24 loss to Cincinnati.
”Somebody’s got to step up. That’s how we do it around here,” Webb said. ”If one man goes down, the next man has be up and ready to play. We have the talent in the room.”
Dominque Franks and Chykie Brown will see extended time in place of Smith, whose run of 24 straight starts will end.
”We’ve got some great corners that can come in and do things while Jimmy’s out,” Elam said. ”He might not be Jimmy Smith, the great player that he is, but we’ve got guys who can come in and compete.”
The key to stopping Roethlisberger transcends merely blanketing his receivers. Some quarterbacks use their agility and quickness to elude oncoming linemen; Big Ben uses his 6-foot-5, 241-pound frame to keep his footing after being hit.
”Every quarterback is unique, and Ben is very unique,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. ”He’s big, very strong, hard to bring down. Nobody does the extended play thing better than Ben. They built their offense around that for years.”
That makes linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs, as well as everyone on the line, just as important to the pass defense as Elam and Webb.
”It’s going to be all 11 guys, especially with Ben because he’s great at making plays when the pocket breaks down,” Ravens rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley said.
Webb said, ”You’ve got to put pressure on him, and you’ve got to tackle him when you get the chance. He can break any tackle.”
Roethlisberger, meanwhile, hopes his performance last week might be the start of something big for Pittsburgh’s passing game.
”Well, I hope so,” he said. ”There are things that we can take and learn from. We know there’s going to be challenges this week with a great defense coming in here in Baltimore and the rivalry and prime time. It’s not going to be easy. I’ve said I don’t care what our stats are as long as at the end of the game we have more points than them.”
Against the Colts, Roethlisberger completed 40 of 49 passes and connected with nine different receivers. His philosophy appears to be, if you can get open, I’ll get you the ball.
”I’m working with all the guys and making sure that we all know what page to be on and where each guy needs to be,” Roethlisberger said. ”You have to be comfortable with each guy because you never know when you’re going to have to use them.”
His main target last week, Antonio Brown, believes Roethlisberger is poised for an encore to his stellar outing against the Colts.
”He’s working at it,” Brown said. ”He’s preparing like a champion.”
AP Sports Writer Will Graves in Pittsburgh contributed to this story.
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