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11-28-2006, 08:00 AM
Steelers reduced to playing for pride

By The Associated Press
Tuesday, November 28, 2006


BALTIMORE (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Steelers probably aren't going back to the Super Bowl. They do, however, have a pretty good read on a team that has designs of supplanting the defending champions.
The Baltimore Ravens sacked Ben Roethlisberger nine times Sunday in a 27-0 victory that left the Steelers with only a mathematical chance of reaching the playoffs.

"I don't know if numbers-wise we're out, but every game we have to win," Pittsburgh linebacker Larry Foote said. "We want to show what we're made of. Records don't really matter."

Sounds as if Pittsburgh (4-7) has been reduced to playing for pride. The Steelers trail AFC North leader Baltimore (9-2) by five games with five to play.

The Ravens have won five straight, and rarely have they looked better than in their performance against the Steelers. Asked if the Ravens appear to be a Super Bowl-caliber team, Foote replied, "They looked like it today."

Pittsburgh receiver Hines Ward was reluctant to pass the crown to the Ravens, but he couldn't avoid sending a compliment their way.

"They are a very good team. Their defense is so solid, and they put a lot of pressure on us," he said. "The quarterback is good, too."

The Ravens' defense stole the show, limiting Pittsburgh to 36 yards in building a 17-0 halftime lead. But Baltimore also flashed its offensive prowess under quarterback Steve McNair.

McNair spent most of the second half handing off the ball after going 13-for-17 for 121 yards and a touchdown in the opening 30 minutes. He left with just over 10 minutes to play and Baltimore comfortably up 24-0.

"We played solid all the way around," McNair said. "This one is against the defending champions. I think we had a good showing."

To say the least. Terrell Suggs led the defense with six tackles and two sacks, Jamal Lewis sparked the offense with 66 yards rushing and a touchdown, and Matt Stover went 2-for-2 on his field-goal tries.

It all added up to Pittsburgh's most lopsided loss since a 37-7 defeat against Dallas in the 1997 season opener.

"A very pitiful performance out there today," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said. "Where we go from here is we've got to line up and play this thing out. It starts next week."

The Steelers had won two straight following a 2-6 start, but their resurgence was emphatically squelched by the hated Ravens, who got all the points they needed with a touchdown on their opening possession.

The nine sacks, which totaled 73 yards and matched a Ravens franchise record, included a vicious hit by Bart Scott that forced Roethlisberger out of the game in the second quarter. The quarterback only missed one play, but for the rest of the afternoon he was harassed by a relentless rush.

"They got after it. You can't get mad at the line; they did a good job," Roethlisberger said. "There were so many things they had to pick up."

After a while, the only thing Roethlisberger could do was duck.

It was the second time this year that the Steelers were shut out; the last time Pittsburgh was blanked at least twice in a season was in 1989.

"You got a rivalry game and they don't score, you not only send a message for the next time you play them, you send a message to the next team you play," Suggs said.

Four of the Steelers' first six drives ended in three-and-outs. The seventh concluded with a sack by Corey Ivy that resulted in a fumble that Baltimore's Adalius Thomas returned 57 yards for a touchdown.

Roethlisberger went 21-for-41 for 214 yards and two interceptions. Willie Parker got only 15 yards rushing in the first half and finished with 22.

Notes: Ravens MLB Ray Lewis returned after missing two weeks with a back injury and had six tackles, including a sack. ... Ravens LB Dan Cody left in the first quarter with a knee strain. ... Pittsburgh SS Troy Polamalu also hurt his knee. He would not provide details on the severity of the injury.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_481595.html