Ravens looking to blitz Big Ben

OWINGS MILLS -- Ben Roethlisberger was practically a broken man after a rampaging Philadelphia Eagles defense was done with him Sunday as the Pittsburgh Steelers' imposing quarterback was chopped to the ground for eight sacks.

As they prepare for a pivotal Monday night game against the Steelers at Heinz Field, the Baltimore Ravens' top-ranked defense would like nothing more than to duplicate a siege that left Roethlisberger with a bandaged right hand following a 15-6 loss to the Eagles.

Afterward, the Steelers were relieved that Roethlisberger didn't have any broken bones and was able to walk under his own power.

"Hopefully, we can just do the same thing," Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said.

Roethlisberger lost two fumbles, threw his first interception of the season and gave up a safety when he was penalized for intentional grounding while falling to the ground in his end zone. It could have easily been twice as many sacks if not for penalties and a yard gained on several sequences. During a second quarter sequence, the Eagles sacked Roethlisberger three times in five plays.

It was such a bad performance against Eagles defensive20coordinator Jim Johnson's complicated blitz packages that Steelers offensive tackle Willie Colon told Pittsburgh reporters: "We got the dog kicked out of us. We got our butt kicked, plain and simple. We got lit up."

Featuring pass rushers like outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Bart Scott and defensive end Trevor Pryce, the Ravens are capable of generating a strong pass rush and have six sacks this year.

Is it realistic to expect the Ravens to be able to victimize the Steelers in similar fashion to what the Eagles did?

"Very seldom are teams going to make the same mistake twice," said Suggs, who posted two sacks against the Cleveland Browns. "I know on the plane ride home when they were watching it, saying, 'This is what we can't do anymore.' You've got to protect your quarterback.

"It was a good game to watch, but I don't think there is anything we can take from it because they've seen it once now and they're on to it. Boom, they're fixing it."

The Ravens and the Eagles have different defensive alignments. Baltimore lines up in a 3-4 most of the time, and the Eagles run a 4-3 as their base defense.

From the Eagles' multiple fronts, anyone can be involved in the blitz, including safeties like Brian Dawkins, and the cornerbacks.

"Everybody knows the Philadelphia defense will bring pressure, and they just couldn't handle the pressure," defensive end Marques Douglas said. "Philadelphia has a completely different style of defense than ours. You can't go out of the box to simulate what they did. We have to stay true to form."

Added middle linebacker Ray Lewis: "Of course, they're going to go back and correct whatever there is to correct. So, if you try to go and emulate the same thing, then you can get beat doing the same thing."

Ultimately, the Eagles left Roethlisberger down on the turf more often than not. At first, he looked confused. Eventually, he seemed resigned that he was going to be hit.

"Was I surprised to see Roethlisberger on the ground that many times?" Suggs said. "If a team's doing different stuff it can happen. I think they just got a clue on where Pittsburgh was having their extra guys stay in and they just went the other way.

"I don't think Pittsburgh is worried about their protection at this point. They just gave up a lot more sacks than they like to."

In a 27-0 win over the Steelers on Nov. 26, 2006, Scott drilled Roethlisberger into the turf in one of the hardest hits of the season as the Ravens produced nine sacks.

The Ravens are expecting the Steelers to employ maximum-protection schemes, including chip-blocking assistance to provide more time for Roethlisberger.

"He's not going to get hit like that again," defensive end Trevor Pryce said. "Whatever they were going through, they'll fix it. I think Philly kind of caught them off-guard.

"You can expect a lot of things, like getting rid of the ball quicker.You can expect him to be sharper. That game might have gotten them back on track. I don't know what to expect."

Now, the Steelers are 1-4 when Roethlisberger has been sacked six or more times. The Ravens sacked him three times last season in a 38-7 Monday night loss. He was rested in the regular-season finale as the Ravens exploited backup Charlie Batch.

"It has to be correctable," Colon said. "Any team that watches this tape right now is going to understand we're suffering with the blitz coming at us and if we don't get it done, they're going to blitz the hell out of us."

Roethlisberger attributed the protection problems to communication issues. He's already anticipating a heavy pass rush from the Ravens, but expects the blocking to hold up much better than it did against Philadelphia.

Not listed on the injury report, Roethlisberger said his hand isn't bothering him.

"We have a better understanding of what happened Sunday," Roethlisberger told reporters. "We made mistakes. We didn't communicate well. I think people made a lot of out of it. I am standing here, and we are good to go and we move on."

At 6-foot-5, 241 pounds, Roethlisberger presents a large target in the pocket. However, he's difficult to tackle and slipped away from several potential sacks against Baltimore last year. He's also capable of eluding defenders, scrambling for eight career touchdown runs.

Roethlisberger has been sacked 158 times in five seasons, including a dozen sacks in three games this year.

"His strength makes him hard to sack," Pryce said. "He's bigger than I am and that makes him not so much slippery, but like trying to tackle the stationary tackling dummy. You're going to bounce off it. He's a big, strong dude.

"It's hard to get him down. He only goes down when it's the last viable option. If there's nothing else available, he'll let you lay him on the ground. But you're not going to tackle him. He's too big and strong."

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

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