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Old 11-26-2006, 08:40 PM   #1
MACH1
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Default Ravens embarrass Steelers and love every minute of it

BALTIMORE -- Ravens defensive end Trevor Pryce, then a Denver Bronco, remembers meeting up with Ray Lewis following the Ravens 2000 Super Bowl season. Lewis was celebrating and in a championship cloud. Pryce tried to bring him back to earth.

"We were sitting around and he was going, 'Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,'" Pryce said. "I said, 'Ray, laugh now Fatman because they are about to gun after your ass.' Sure enough they did."

It's hard being on that Super Bowl pedestal. Pryce knows. His Broncos won two Super Bowls and then teams started gunning for them. They went 6-10 after John Elway retired and haven't been back since. Lewis hasn't been back to the Super Bowl either. They've dismantled the team once and went through numerous quarterbacks in their effort to return. On Sunday, the Super Bowl torch may have been passed from the Steelers to the Ravens during a 27-0 blowout that all but buried the Steelers' hopes of making the playoffs and repeating as champs.

Had Pryce run into Ben Roethlisberger after Pittsburgh's Super Bowl victory over the Seahawks, he would have offered the same advice. Opponents were gunning for the Steelers all season, but on this warm 57-degree November day, the Ravens didn't just gun for Roethlisberger. They attacked him with a machine gun assault of blitz packages that went virtually unblocked.

Roethlisberger was sacked nine times. He was knocked down nine other times. Sixteen of his pass attempts were hurried. Considering Roethlisberger dropped back to pass 50 times -- including the nine sacks -- he barely had time to get off 16 passes without a Ravens body pounding him into submission.

"They beat us with schemes, they beat us with one on one and they pretty much dominated at the line of scrimmage," Steelers coach Bill Cowher said.

Basically, the Ravens punished the Super Bowl champs and Roethlisberger. At 4-7, the Steelers have to finish out a disappointing season that could cost them their head coach. Cowher's contract run out in 2007, but he built a $3 million home in North Carolina and most people in the organization believe he will spend next season there and not in Pittsburgh. He's rejected a contract extension that could pay him as much as $6.5 million toward the end of the deal.

"Everybody who wins the Super Bowl, the next year, more than likely, seventy-five percent of them have problems," Pryce said. "If you become the Super Bowl champ, the season is so long and by the time you recover, it's June and you are staring training camp in the face. So that's the downside of playing in the Super Bowl. But if you win, guess what? You are World Champions and no one can take that away from them."

But the Ravens defense sure made Roethlisberger pay for his success. With 3:27 left in the first half, Ravens linebacker Bart Scott came unblocked off the corner and legally slammed Roethlisberger to the ground.

"That's probably the hardest hit I've ever been hit in my life," Roethlisberger said. "I truly feel that way. I didn't see the guy coming. He came clean, hit me front side, and I just remember my head hitting the ground. He just knocked the wind out of me and I couldn't breathe very well. So I just had to lay there for a second."

Said Scott, "It's a dream shot. You dream as a child of hitting the quarterback like that. Adalius Thomas did a great job of drawing the tackle out of position."

To his credit, Roethlisberger returned after missing only one play. Of course the whole season has been like that for Roethlisberger. He's taken a pounding and his game has suffered as a result. In 11 games, Roethlisberger has been sacked 36 times and has thrown 19 interceptions. The quarterback who couldn't lose during his first two years can't win this season.

"We have just been coming up on the short end every week," Steelers halfback Willie Parker said. "It's frustrating, but we went out there and played pretty sorry today."

The Steelers offense generated only 172 yards on 62 plays, a pitiful 2.8-yard average. The Ravens offense was relentless against the Steelers, using Jamal Lewis power runs and Steve McNair short passes. The Ravens drove 56 yards in six plays on their game-opening possession to score a touchdown. Before the first half ended, they built up a 17-0 lead and cruised to victory.

But this Ravens team wanted everything, including making sure they embarrassed the Super Bowl champs. They wanted the shutout.

"The shutout was very important," defensive end Terrell Suggs said. "We've got a rivalry game and they didn't score. You're not only sending a message for the next time you play them. You're sending a message for the next team you play. We just sent a message that we're here now."

For the defense, it's the same message the Baltimore sent out in 2000 -- fear the Ravens.

Opposing quarterbacks are completing just 53.2 percent of their passes against the Ravens defense. They've intercepted 20 passes. Thomas returned a fumble 57 yards for a touchdown, bringing the number of defensive scores to five in 11 games. They've sacked quarterbacks 39 times. The quarterback rating against the Ravens is 60.6. The pain factor is over 100.

"We couldn't do what we wanted to do on offense," said Roethlisberger, who completed 21 of 41 passes for 214 yards and threw two interceptions. "Whether that's their scheme or not, they got after us. They were teeing off and they were coming. They pinned their ears back and were blitzing hard."

Defensive coordinator Rex Ryan estimated the Ravens blitzed on only 50 percent of the 62 Steelers' offensive plays. It was just the way that they blitz. They occasionally blitzed out of his father's fabled 4-6. They blitzed from the 3-4. They blitzed from the 4-3. They moved guys around and the Steelers linemen had no idea where they were coming from.

Ryan used one alignment in which Pryce is the only defensive lineman on the field.

"It's called the best pass rushers we have, and that's what it boils down to," Pryce said of the unusual alignment. "I think they brought me here to put as much pressure on the inside as possible. It works out really. I haven't been able to rush like this on my own probably in about three years."

Pryce is second on the team with 8? sacks. Adalius Thomas, who rushes as a linebacker or defensive end, has 9?. Bart Scott has 6?. Terrell Suggs has six.

This was the Ravens second shutout of the season and they are starting to get that swagger back. But the big question is how does this compare to the Ravens defense of 2000?

"Back then we were just built big and made people just stop playing by playing base defense," Lewis said. "This defense right here is totally different. We have so much athleticism here at every position that it's just scary."

Seconds after dispatching the Super Bowl champs, the Ravens zeroed in their focus on Thursday's game against the Bengals. They can clinch the AFC North if they win that game. Brian Billick won't have the team do a conventional practice before then although he wants each player to have one lifting session before Thursday's game.

The defense won't need too much work. They got in a workout lifting Roethlisberger off the ground 18 times Sunday. It was pretty tiring.

John Clayton is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
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Old 11-27-2006, 01:06 AM   #2
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Default Re: Ravens embarrass Steelers and love every minute of it

Anyone still think the Ravens arent for real?
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Old 11-27-2006, 01:44 AM   #3
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Default Re: Ravens embarrass Steelers and love every minute of it

i believe the ravens will not make it to the superbowl.i cant stand that big mouth criminal lewis.the steelers will be playing for pride for the rest of the season.the seahawks arent looking to impressive either.i believe the colts will win the afc.im just shocked the steelers are 4-7.i hope they at least finish at .500 ( 8-8 ) which is nothing to be ashamed of.pittsburgh remaining 5 games are tampa bay,clev,carolina,balt & cincy.3 of those games are @ home ( tb,clev & balt ).i would just love to see the steelers get revenge on the ravens plus its a home game.
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Old 11-27-2006, 05:15 AM   #4
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Default Re: Ravens embarrass Steelers and love every minute of it

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i believe the ravens will not make it to the superbowl.i cant stand that big mouth criminal lewis.the steelers will be playing for pride for the rest of the season.the seahawks arent looking to impressive either.i believe the colts will win the afc.im just shocked the steelers are 4-7.i hope they at least finish at .500 ( 8-8 ) which is nothing to be ashamed of.pittsburgh remaining 5 games are tampa bay,clev,carolina,balt & cincy.3 of those games are @ home ( tb,clev & balt ).i would just love to see the steelers get revenge on the ravens plus its a home game.
Dream on, kiddo. It's going to be and ugly road without Troy, and Hines at less than 100% and God only knows who stole the O-line. Everybody kept saying that Ben only looked good because of the players around him......... They wee wrong. He's back but he can't do it alone.
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Old 11-27-2006, 07:09 AM   #5
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Unhappy Re: Ravens embarrass Steelers and love every minute of it

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Dream on, kiddo. It's going to be and ugly road without Troy, and Hines at less than 100% and God only knows who stole the O-line. Everybody kept saying that Ben only looked good because of the players around him......... They wee wrong. He's back but he can't do it alone.

I agree completely.. our O Line is just pathetic at times this year and I dont understand why.. we have all the same guys just not the same heart I guess...Ben cannot protect hisself and obviously our O Line cant either...
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Old 11-27-2006, 07:37 AM   #6
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Default Re: Ravens embarrass Steelers and love every minute of it

Yesterday's game was a total melt down! The ratbirds did what they had to do when they had to do it. They made a huge statement yesterday and we didn't even answer it!
I hope this brings some urgency to the team to at least finish strong and come Christmas eve, return the beating!!!
I believe the ratbirds are for real. I also still think they suck. They get one good year in every 5 and the fans think they are the greatest thing since sliced bread!
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You can take the team out of Cleveland
But you can't take the suck out of the team!
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Old 11-27-2006, 07:49 AM   #7
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Default Re: Ravens embarrass Steelers and love every minute of it

We won't know if the Ravens are for real until they play a game in the playoff's. That's when the elite teams are separated from the good teams. That defense certaintly looked fierce though out there.
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Old 11-27-2006, 08:41 AM   #8
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Default Re: Ravens embarrass Steelers and love every minute of it

IMO we've gotten EXACTLY what we deserve.

We've played like "Fat Cats" all year long.


Yesterday was one of the worst performances I've seen of a Steelers team in I can't remember when.


From top to bottom the Steelers should be ashamed.


We got flat out crushed.
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Old 11-27-2006, 09:20 AM   #9
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Default Re: Ravens embarrass Steelers and love every minute of it

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Yesterday was one of the worst performances I've seen of a Steelers team in I can't remember when.
I say this with all humor intended.....

You must were either not born or too drunk during the Mark Malone and Bubby Brister years!
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Old 11-27-2006, 09:26 AM   #10
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Default Re: Ravens embarrass Steelers and love every minute of it

Seriously. I don't know what we are gonna do. Troy is out for awhile and Hines, well, you get the picture. Hopefully this was a wake up call and we can turn this around.

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