Notebook: Martin, Pittman struggle

OWINGS MILLS -- Shredded by the surgically-precise passes of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the Baltimore Ravens' secondary was riddled with holes during Monday night's 38-7 loss. It was no secret what Roethlisberger's intentions were.

Highly aware that the Ravens were playing without starting cornerbacks Samari Rolle (undisclosed illness) and Chris McAlister (knee), Roethlisberger went after their replacements to throw a career-high five touchdown passes.

"Yeah, we knew it was coming," safety Ed Reed said. "That was their game plan."

Roethlisberger targeted cornerback Derrick Martin, who had a rough debut during his first NFL start, as well as nickel back David Pittman the most. He completed 13 of 16 passes for 209 yards with no interceptions.

Martin was clearly beaten on a 35-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes, trailing the speedster by several steps. Along with safety Dawan Landry, Martin unsuccessfully chased Nate Washington on a 30-yard score.

"I played like [crap]," Martin said. "He played real well, and I didn't. Yeah, Roethlisberger was on the money.

"Sometimes, the quarterback would scramble and the receivers would break their routes off and we would get beat. That's pretty much where they beat us the most."

The five touchdowns tied the Ravens' record for most allowed in franchise history, matching a Nov. 23, 2003 overtime win over the Seattle Seahawks.

Although Roethlisberger didn't go after Corey Ivy much, he was successful in exploiting Pittman, who had been inactive for 20 of his first 23 NFL games since being drafted in the third round.

Pittman, who suffered a mild concussion, allowed Holmes to position himself for a 15-yard touchdown catch. Ivy was flagged for pass interference.

"They just had a nice scheme," Martin said. "It's the NFL, and you've got to be perfect. It's football. Sometimes, you lose."

Linebacker Bart Scott acknowledged that the Steelers had taken advantage of a weakness.

"They had a great game plan," Scott said. "Whenever you have the opportunity to step on the field, you can either become a star or you can leave yourself open for criticism.

"You just got to pick your head up, work harder and do better the next time you get an opportunity. Opportunities in this league only come so often. You have to take advantage of it."

INJURY UPDATE: During his weekly radio show Tuesday night, Ravens coach Brian Billick said that he expects Rolle and McAlister to potentially return Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium.

"I think Chris is planning on it, he was moving around well late last week," Billick said. "I talked to Samari and I'm confident Samari will be back. We'll have to see how he's feeling."

Meanwhile, tight end Todd Heap expressed optimism that he will return from a strained hamstring.

"I would rather make sure it's healed and not come back too early," Heap said. "I think that's what happened last time against St. Louis and it set me back again. I'm looking for no setbacks."

In his most extended action of the season, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden played the entire game without incident with his hyperextended left big toe.

"It held up decently, not great," Ogden said. "It wasn't bad."

Billick said that no player has been ruled out for the Cincinnati game, which would include running back Willis McGahee (concussion), Pittman, linebacker Prescott Burgess (quad contusion) and return specialist Yamon Figurs (knee sprain).

"It wasn't that bad," Figurs said. "I think I'll be fine for next week."

ONE THAT GOT AWAY: Steelers linebacker James Harrison played as if he was trying to prove something to the Ravens.

Baltimore cut him in 2004 without allowing him to come to training camp after allocating him to NFL Europe.

Harrison paid the Ravens back for the slight with nine tackles, 3 1/2 sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception. A lot of his pass-rush pressure came at Ogden's expense.

"It was a little more satisfying," Harrison said when asked about having a career night against Baltimore. "I just felt like everything was coming together. It seemed to snowball."

Added Steelers linebacker James Farrior: "I want to know what he had for breakfast this morning. I want the same thing."

The Ravens still don't seem to think Harrison was for real.

"They had that little 5-foot-9 linebacker making plays, and I was like, 'Who is this kid?'" defensive end Trevor Pryce said. "That will never happen again in his life."

QUICK HITS: McGahee's 33-yard touchdown run made him the second runner this year to rush for a touchdown against the Steelers' top-ranked defense, joining the Arizona Cardinals' Edgerrin James. McGahee left the game when his helmet collided with safety Troy Polamalu's knee. ... Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward cemented his reputation as one of the league's fiercest downfield blockers. He bashed Scott and Reed into the ground with crushing blocks. .... The Steelers have won their past dozen Monday night home games, a streak that dates back to an Oct. 14, 1991 loss to the New York Giants. ... Baltimore has lost its past five prime-time games, and it has two more on the schedule against the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts. ... Sam Koch booted a career-high 10 punts. ... Reed's fifth interception of the season ties him for the most in the league with the Washington Redskins' Sean Taylor and the Dallas Cowboys' Anthony Henry. ... Musa Smith's 52-yard kickoff return in place of Figurs is the longest of his career.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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