Steelers dominate Ravens, 38-7

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Steelers may want to re-think who the linebackers are on their 75th Anniversary team.

The way James Harrison played Monday night, he might sneak his way onto it.

On a night when the Steelers honored the 33 members of their all-time team, Harrison had a night as dominant as any defensive player on it, recording nine tackles, 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles – one of which he recovered himself – and an interception.

That, and a career-high and team-record tying five touchdown passes from Ben Roethlisberger, helped the Steelers smack around the Baltimore Ravens, 38-7, here at Heinz Field.

The Steelers got a scare with 6:04 remaining in the third quarter when Roethlisberger was knocked to the ground by Terrell Suggs after a long completion to Santonio Holmes. But after missing two series with a hip injury, Roethlisberger returned to the game and appeared to be OK.

"At this point it's a hip-pointer," said head coach Mike Tomlin. "He was fine after the initial pain subsided and he was fine to go back into the game. He felt strongly about it. He was persuasive."

The injury nearly ruined what was otherwise a strong effort by the Steelers who were looking for retribution against a Baltimore team that dominated them last season, sweeping the season series by a combined score of 58-7.

For a while, it looked like the Steelers (6-2) were looking to match that score against Baltimore (4-4) in this game.

"It was in the backs of our minds," admitted linebacker Larry Foote. "I'd be lying if I said it wasn't."

The Steelers' first score came courtesy of a strong pass rush by Harrison.

Harrison stormed into the backfield on Baltimore's first possession and flushed quarterback Steve McNair to his right. Harrison continued his pursuit, sacking McNair and knocking the ball free. In the ensuing scrum, Harrison jumped into the pile, pulling the ball out at the Baltimore 20.

After a pair of short runs by Willie Parker, Roethlisberger – who completed 13 of 16 passes for 209 yards – showed off his trademark escapability, shaking off a tackle attempt by defensive tackle Trevor Pryce, rolling to his left and throwing to Heath Miller for a 17- yard TD pass.

Harrison then completely took the Ravens out of their game.

On a re-punt due to offsetting penalties, Harrison blew up Baltimore return man Ed Reed – a Pro Bowl safety subbing for Yamon Figures, who was shaken up on the previous punt. Harrison separated Reed from the ball so violently that it flew 10 feet into the air, where it was caught by rookie linebacker Lawrence Timmons.

"It seemed like everything was working," said Harrison. "Coach (Dick) LeBeau was calling great defenses and everybody was doing what they needed to do.

"It was a little more satisfying because it was Baltimore. I played for them for like two weeks and then they cut me."

Timmons returned the ball six yards to the Baltimore 28 and the Steelers were in business again.

Roethlisberger put the Steelers ahead 14-0 with a 15-yard TD pass to Holmes, who had four catches for 110 yards, in the back of the end zone with 1:41 remaining in the first quarter.

Yet another Ravens' turnover gave the Steelers another short field to work with as Troy Polamalu forced a fumble by Willis McGahee on the next possession, with Anthony Smith recovering at the Baltimore 36.

Three plays later, Roethlisberger escaped the grasp of Suggs, rolled to his right and threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Nate Washington, who was 10 yards behind the nearest Baltimore defender, to give the Steelers a 21-0 lead two plays in the second quarter.

On the Steelers' next possession Roethlisberger connected with Holmes again, this time for a 35-yard touchdown pass for a 28-0 lead.

Harrison then struck again. This time, he stepped in front of a McNair pass, picking it off at the Pittsburgh 36. He returned the ball to the Baltimore 44 and Roethlisberger took the Steelers in for another score, throwing his fifth TD pass to Washington for a 35-0 lead.

Baltimore finally got on the board late in the first half on a 33-yard run by McGahee, a touchdown that was set up by a 52-yard kickoff return by Musa Smith.

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