Cook: Broken beak is Ben's badge of Baltimore courage
Friday, September 09, 2011
By Ron Cook
, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is helped off the field after his nose was broken from a punch by the Ravens' Haloti Ngata last season.
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By now, you might have heard Ben Roethlisberger plays pretty well against the Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers have won seven games in a row in the contentious series with Big Ben at quarterback, including postseason wins last season and in 2008. They'll try to make it eight Sunday afternoon in Baltimore.
You probably also know some of Roethlisberger's signature moments against the Ravens. His five first-half touchdown passes and perfect 158.3 passer rating at Heinz Field in 2007. His winning 4-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with 43 seconds left at M&T Bank Stadium in '08. His 65-yard touchdown pass to Holmes in the AFC championship game at Heinz Field that same season. His winning 9-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Redman with 2:59 left at M&T Bank Stadium last season. The comeback he led from a 21-7 halftime deficit in a divisional playoff game at Heinz Field last season. His 58-yard pass to Antonio Brown to set up the winning touchdown in that game.
But you'll never guess the career highlight Roethlisberger most cherishes against the Ravens.
Would you believe it's his broken nose in the game in Baltimore last season?
"That was no fun, I can tell you that," Roethlisberger said during a quiet moment after practice this week. "It's hard enough playing those guys anytime, but it's really hard playing 'em when you can't breathe."
No, it wasn't fun -- Roethlisberger said doctors told him his nose "looked like corn flakes" -- but it surely was significant to him. He was clubbed in the face by Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata early in the game. Ngata wasn't penalized on the play -- further proof to a lot of Steelers people that the NFL really isn't as interested in protecting Roethlisberger as it is the Tom Bradys and Peyton Mannings -- although he was fined $15,000 the next day about the same time Roethlisberger was having surgery.
"What makes me smile about that is I know people from Homestead, McKeesport, places all over the city ... real Steelers fans everywhere were watching and saw the blood all over the place," Roethlisberger said. "I hope they said, 'That's our guy. He's one of us. He never came out. He never quit. He's pretty tough.' "