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Old 12-04-2010, 08:32 AM   #1
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Default Steelers report: Inside slant

Steelers report: Inside slant
The Sports Xchange
Dec. 3, 2010

Ben Roethlisberger hobbled through another "limited" practice session for the Steelers Thursday amid reports that his right foot is broken.

Roethlisberger, who insists he will play Sunday night in Baltimore, was injured in the first quarter against Buffalo last week and did not miss a play in Pittsburgh's overtime victory. Trainers have inserted two metal plates into a shoe to help protect the foot and provide support.

The Steelers had labeled the foot as "sprained" until a Thursday report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the fifth metatarsal bone was broken. The club later issued a clarification that read, "In response to inquiries about Ben Roethlisberger having a broken foot, Steelers spokesperson Dave Lockett said there is no new fracture in Ben's foot. Ben's current injury is an aggravation of an old injury where scar tissue is present."

Said Roethlisberger, "It hurts because it's my plant foot, my right foot. When I hit the ground, I want to get the ball out. I'll find a way to make it happen."

Roethlisberger has won his past five starts against the Ravens but missed losses to them this season, last season, one in 2007 and one in 2005. He is 7-2 overall against Baltimore, both losses in 2006.

Coordinator Bruce Arians said the Steelers plan no changes in their offense because of Roethlisberger's injury.

"He just has to know what he can do to protect himself,'' Arians said after watching Roethlisberger practice for the second day in a row. "I feel confident he'll be fine that way. But we won't change a thing."

--The winner of Sunday night's showdown in Baltimore between the Steelers and Ravens, both 8-3, will own a clear path to the AFC North Division title. Yet all the buzz in Pittsburgh over the past two days has been about penalties, illegal hits and fines.

Even the Ravens were talking about how the NFL has targeted Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who has collected $125,000 in fines this season from the NFL for four hits.

"You got this guy, No. 92 over there. I think he's kind of red-flagged," Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said on Wednesday. "Referees are kind of looking for him to see if he breathes on the quarterback wrong. He might get a flag. I think there is definitely some injustice and I think that's where the game has went.

"I don't feel sorry for anybody. I do know they are looking at him more closely than they are looking at anybody else in the league. I think in the referee world they kind of red-flagged him."

The Steelers are up in arms not only because they believe the league has targeted Harrison, but they think officials also have been told to watch guard Chris Kemoeatu, who was called for four holding penalties in Buffalo on Sunday, and that the same officials are not doing enough to protect their own quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, for roughing.

Roethlisberger came out of Sunday's game with a sprained foot, and a sore knee that was injured when he was roughed up after a sack by Buffalo defensive end Marcus Stroud and linebacker Arthur Moats.

"I know our quarterback takes a lot of shots," linebacker James Farrior said. "He's banged up right now. I don't think they really do a great job of protecting him. I don't know what it is."

Harrison remains bewildered over the growing fines against him and how he's supposed to tackle.

"There's nothing malicious or illegal (about) the way I'm playing, the way I'm tackling guys, so I'm going to continue to play the game and let the chips fall where they may," Harrison said. "It's not like I'm hitting these guys or doing anything beyond the scope of the rules. Anything I do that may be even close to the border is going o be called."

Safety Ryan Clark, the Steelers' rep for the NFL Players Association, called a regional rep of the union to protest what he said the league is doing to Harrison.

"I'm definitely standing behind him as a rep," Clark said. "We definitely need some answers, just clarity of what they want. Every week it's a different explanation by the referees to the reason for the hit -- full body, lying on the guy or hitting the guy with the crown of your helmet or putting your facemask in his back. If I'm running down the back of a guy, which way do I turn to make sure my facemask doesn't hit him?"

Sunday night's winner will have another edge besides a one-game lead in the division with four to play. A Baltimore win would give the Ravens the top tiebreaker with two wins against Pittsburgh. A Steelers win, though, would give them the tiebreaker based on a better division record, provided they take care of their final two division games at home against Cincinnati the following Sunday and in Cleveland Jan. 2.

30th regular-season meeting, Steelers lead the series, 17-12, but it is dead even in Baltimore, 7-7. The Steelers also are 2-0 in post-season against the Ravens. Baltimore won in the fourth game of this season, 17-14, at Heinz Field when the Ravens scored a late touchdown to win it. The teams each won on the road in their two games last season.

Copyright (C) 2010 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

Steelers report: Strategy and personnel
The Sports Xchange
Dec. 3, 2010


--SS Troy Polamalu (Achilles) did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, a routine he followed in each of the previous two weeks and played in each of the past two games. He is expected to play again Sunday.

--DE Brett Keisel went through his third straight practice Friday and is set to return to play for the first time in a month. He has missed five of the past six games with hamstring/calf injuries.

--WR Antonio Brown could be back returning punts Sunday night. Brown, who has a 10.9-yard punt return average, has not dressed for six of the past seven games but Mike Tomlin indicated he could play in this one.

--CB William Gay has gotten back into the good graces of his coaches with his play recently, including a tipped pass that wound up a Troy Polamalu interception at the Buffalo 2 last week. Gay has been their nickel back most of the season.

--RB Mewelde Moore has been used more and more as a receiver and has become their fourth-leading catcher with 23. He has split out more often and been used more on screen passes as the season progressed.

The Steelers want to run on offense but realize that they likely will have to throw on the Ravens in order to move the ball. They had little success doing either in their 17-14 loss in the fourth game of the season. On defense, they will do what they did in the first game by stopping the run and forcing Joe Flacco to pass. Flacco did not have success until his final series when the Steelers laid back and he toasted them on four pass plays that covered 40 yards for the winning touchdown.

Steelers rookie C Maurkice Pouncey and RG Ramon Foster vs. Ravens Pro Bowl DT Haloti Ngata. "He's a disruptive force, one that we have to reckon with in some form or fashion. Usually that's going to require multiple men," said coach Mike Tomlin.

Steelers S Troy Polamalu vs. Ravens S Ed Reed. They don't face each other but it's a matchup of the two best safeties in the game and the outcome could hinge on one of them making a big play.

Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs vs. Steelers LT Jonathan Scott, playing for injured Max Starks and not doing a good job of it.

The Steelers are relatively healthy and all of these players should be on the field Sunday: QB Ben Roethlisberger (foot), S Troy Polamalu (Achilles), DE Brett Keisel (hamstring), CB Bryant McFadden (hamstring), DE Nick Eason (knee) and OT Flozell Adams (back). DE Aaron Smith (triceps) remains out and Ziggy Hood will start for him.

Copyright (C) 2010 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

Steelers report: Notes, quotes

The Sports Xchange
Dec. 3, 2010

--The 6:05 possession time by the Buffalo Bills in the first half of their game last Sunday against the Steelers was the lowest of any NFL team for one half this season.

--Starting free safeties Ryan Clark of Pittsburgh and Ed Reed of Baltimore go back to their high school days in Louisiana.

"Me and Ed visited Tulane together," Clark said."We graduated high school in Louisiana the same year. Played in the same all-star game. Every week I thought I'd get Player of the Week; he'd get it. I'd have a game where I might get two picks, he'd get three and run one back for a touchdown. He's still that same great player."

--QB Ben Roethlisberger practiced on a limited basis throughout the week wearing a fortified right shoe to protect his sprained right foot. He vowed to play in Baltimore.

"I will not be out there if I'm going to hurt this team. If I can help the team win, I'll be out there," he said.

Roethlisberger has a 7-2 record starting against the Ravens, including his past five starts, one an AFC championship.

"I guess I got lucky a couple of times," he explained.

13-5 -- Record of coach Mike Tomlin in prime-time regular-season games since he became Steelers coach in 2007. They were once 12-0 and are 1-5 since their loss in Baltimore last season in Week 12.

"The secret in this thing is there are no secrets. If you want to be a dominant team, if you want to be a good team, if you want to make a splash, you've got to take your show on the road in hostile environments against known opponents, familiar opponents, and make the significant plays that are necessary to win." -- Coach Mike Tomlin on playing in Baltimore Sunday night.

Copyright (C) 2010 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.
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