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Old 12-06-2010, 09:37 PM   #1
A Son of Martha

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Default Big Ben's broken nose a symbol of Steelers' power to endure


Big Ben's broken nose a symbol of Steelers' power to endure

BALTIMORE -- The face of the Pittsburgh Steelers bled from a nose that had been pushed sideways as he hobbled on a broken right foot.

You won't find a more fitting symbol for a team that has traveled such a rough and treacherous path to 9-3 than the fighter's mug that Ben Roethlisberger sported during Sunday night's how-did-they-do-it victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

How did they do it?

The Steelers began the year without Roethlisberger for four games while he served a suspension for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy. They've lost starting offensive and defensive linemen to injuries. Roethlisberger suffered a broken foot and limped his way through an overtime win against Buffalo that the Steelers would have lost had a receiver been able to hold onto a touchdown pass. And against the Ravens -- in a throw-back game with fierce hitting from start to finish -- nose tackle Haloti Ngata clubbed Roethlisberger in the face on an early sack and the quarterback kept playing with a displaced nose and a noticeable limp.

"I think it's just the heart of the Pittsburgh Steelers," nose tackle Chris Hoke said. "You're taught as a rookie, a first-year guy, that this is how we play, that's what we expect. And guys always do that, they always pick up the slack. People go down, people step up, and we always fight to the bitter end."

That's what Roethlisberger did. He kept making plays, able to move around well enough while being constantly pounded to lead a 16-play drive that produced a field goal. The defense kept the game tight. And, with the help of some questionable decisions by the Ravens' coaches, the Steelers came away with a 13-10 victory.

"Ben's a warrior," said rookie running back Isaac Redman, who caught a short pass from Roethlisberger and blasted through tackles for the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter. "He's out there, he's bleeding, his foot's broken and he's out there making big plays for us. I can't say enough about him. That's the kind of guy you want leading your offense."

But it's even larger than that. Roethlisberger's ability to extend plays, deliver under pressure and show remarkable toughness is an inspiration to players on both sides of the ball.

"We knew he was playing hampered, so we knew if we could just give him an opportunity to make a play, he was going to do it," safety Ryan Clark said. "He fought the whole game and we finally gave him good enough field position to give him an opportunity."

Said Redman, "When you see your quarterback out there fighting like that, you know if you've got a little sprained ankle or anything, you look at this guy out there playing with a broken foot, you've got to kind of suck it up and go right along with him."

The Steelers' record says they're a serious contender. However, their injuries and the good fortune needed for them to be in this position has to raise questions about just how far they can go.

Pittsburgh's players know those doubts are out there.

"You can (understand why people think that)," Clark said. "But you think about clubs who feel like they're playing great, and we're 9-3 and they aren't. You ask a lot of teams, 'Would you want our record with our problems, with our suspensions, with our injuries?' They'd want to be where we are."
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