Ben, Steelers As Tough As They Come

The Steelers and Ravens played another one for the ages, with the Steelers still standing at the end. Here's the notebook from Dale Lolley.

BALTIMORE – That was as gutsy an effort as you'll see from a team in any sport put on by the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night at M&T Bank Stadium.

The quarterback, who was already playing on a sprained right foot, suffered a broken nose on the first series, but gutted things out against one of the most physical defenses in the league.

The punter suffered a season-ending ACL injury, but still went out and held on field goals and PATs.

The starting tight end was knocked out by an illegal shot and still walked off the field under his own power.

The starting right tackle went down just a few plays after that and the Steelers didn't miss a beat.

It all added up to a 13-10 victory over the Baltimore Ravens that put the Steelers in control of their own destiny in the AFC North.

And pending the outcome of Monday night's game at New England, where the Jets face the Patriots, the Steelers could be in control of their entire playoff destiny.

What more could you ask for from a team that continues to find ways to win?

Do the Steelers have flaws? Sure.

The offensive line is still a weakness, though the coaching staff has done a great job of covering those, particularly during important stretches of games.

And the secondary can still be beaten, though as we saw Sunday night, so can the one in Baltimore.

But when the Steelers are playing at home in January they can point to this win over the Ravens as a big reason why.

This was that big of a win.

© You can question the constant drama surrounding Ben Roethlisberger's injuries, real and imagined. But you can't question his toughness.

Roethlisberger suffered a broken nose on a shot to the head from Baltimore's Haloti Ngata – which should have been penalized – and didn't miss a beat. Roethlisberger said following the game that, as replays showed, Ngata's hand came inside his helmet, hitting him in the nose.

Later in the second quarter, Roethlisberger took a shot after throwing a pass that looked to be well after he had let go of the football.

Roethlisberger looked up at umpire Paul King for a penalty. But then he just waived disgustedly at King.

If they weren't going to penalize Ngata for breaking his nose, they surely weren't going to call the roughing penalty.

© The news that punter Daniel Sepulveda is done for the season with a torn ACL – the third time he's torn the same ACL – is terrible news for the Steelers.

Sepulveda was having a Pro Bowl-type season before the injury. Perhaps it's fitting that he hit a 53-yard punt on a cold and windy day on what could be his final kick this season.

But it took a lot of guts and determination for Sepulveda to go out and hold, kneeling down on that torn ACL. He had to be helped up each time.

Sepulveda even tried to punt the ball into the net after suffering the injury, but immediately went down to the ground with tears in his eyes.

He knew his season was over.

That's a tough, tough break.

© Shaun Suisham did a remarkably good job punting in place of Sepulveda. But he did not at all look comfortable taking the snap.

I couldn't believe the Ravens didn't try to put more of a rush on him considering he was catching every snap in his stomach.

© If Jameel McClain doesn't draw at least a $40,000 fine for his blatantly illegal hit on Heath Miller, the league should fold.

Given some of the things we've seen called already this year – Ryan Clark's "helmet-to-helmet" penalty a few weeks ago being the biggest one – for that play not to be penalized was criminal.

Then again, maybe Terry McAuly's crew had read all of the vitriol coming out of Pittsburgh last week and decided they weren't going to throw flags on any illegal shots.

Miller seemed OK - at least for a guy who had been knocked out - in the locker room. He said he was a little foggy, but was getting around well enough.

© Flozell Adams has a high ankle sprain and that likely means that he'll miss next Sunday's game against the Bengals.

Adams and center Maurkice Pouncey have been the only linemen to start every game this season. If I were Pouncey, I'd be very nervous.

For those of you keeping score at home, that will mean a sixth different starting offensive line combination this season, with Trai Essex likely getting the start at right tackle.

© The Steelers were very relaxed in the locker room after this game.

They knew that they had just won a very, very big game, but also knew they still have some work to be done.

They weren't talking any smack on the Ravens and with good reason.

"There's a good chance we're going to see this Baltimore team again," said wide receiver Hines Ward.

That might be true, but after Sunday night's win, that third meeting - if it happens - will be in Pittsburgh.

© I asked guard Chris Kemoeatu when the last time he carried the ball had been. After a long pause, he said that Sunday night was the first time he had ever done so.

In case you missed it, Kemoeatu scooped up a fumble by Roethlisberger, ran over a would-be tackler and picked up six yards before being hauled down by Tavares Gooden – a tackle that should have been called a horse collar.

The play was negated by a defensive holding penalty, but the big man looked good with the ball in his hands.

(Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.)

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