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mesaSteeler
11-06-2011, 09:57 AM
Head to Head: Ravens QB Joe Flacco vs. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
A closer look at the game within the game
Sunday, November 06, 2011
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ravens QB Joe Flacco vs. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger spent the past week talking about the Baltimore Ravens defense as though it was a combination of the Steel Curtain and the Minnesota Vikings' Purple People Eaters of the 1970s.

To be sure, the Ravens have the No. 1-ranked defense that has allowed the fewest points in the NFL. But Roethlisberger made it sound as though the Steelers would be fortunate merely to find the end zone against them.

"We're just a little offense trying to score points," Roethlisberger said. Don't believe him.

Sure, he had five of the seven turnovers in the first meeting in Baltimore, including three interceptions. But, in the past four games, he has looked nothing like the player he was in the Ravens' 35-7 victory. Of course, neither has Joe Flacco.

In the past four games, Flacco has looked little like the quarterback he was in the season opener when he passed for 234 yards and three touchdowns.

He was dreadfully inaccurate in games against the New York Jets (10 of 31 for 163 yards) and Jacksonville Jaguars (21 of 38 for 137) and was just as horrid in the first half last week against the Arizona Cardinals, when he completed only 12 of 23 passes for 100 yards with one interception.

Since a 37-7 victory against the St. Louis Rams in which he passed for a career-high 389 yards and three TDs, Flacco has completed just 53.6 percent of his passes (82 of 153) with only one touchdown and four interceptions in four games. His passer rating in those games is 63.66.

Conversely, Roethlisberger has been the AFC's hottest and most productive quarterback during the team's four-game winning streak.

He has completed 67.1 percent of his passes (98 of 146) for 1,154 yards, an NFL-best 11 touchdowns with only two interceptions. His passer rating in that stretch is 110.36.

"There are always games that you have that are tough for you," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Guys fight every week to be the best they can, and he is the best at that, as far as I am concerned. ... He is just a great player."

Said Roethlisberger, "That was the first game of the year. We're a little further in now. We've grown offensively and defensively. This is obviously about two great defenses playing and we just got to try and find a way to score some points."

Flacco was not under a lot of pressure in the first meeting -- he was sacked only once and pressured just five times -- but a lot of that had to do with the Ravens jumping to a 21-7 lead in the second quarter. Also, left tackle Bryant McKinnie played like he did during his Pro Bowl days with the Minnesota Vikings. But, in the past three games, Flacco has been sacked eight times and looked confused in the pocket.

The Steelers offense has averaged 418 yards during their four-game winning streak and Roethlisberger has passed for 726 yards and five TDs in the past two games alone. What's more, he has the best home passer rating (108.3) among AFC quarterbacks this season.

"We'll see," Roethlisberger said. "People are billing this as two of the best defenses in the game."

In other words, keep an eye on the quarterbacks.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11310/1187638-66-0.stm#ixzz1cwBLQDjx