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Ben Roethlisberger: Big Ben's Absence Looms in Steelers/Ravens Showdown

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Ben Roethlisberger: Big Ben's Absence Looms in Steelers/Ravens Showdown
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

While the rib injury Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sustained on Monday is a rare one, Big Ben being out of the lineup for the twice-a-year Steelers/Ravens AFC North showdown is not rare at all.

Since becoming the starting quarterback as a rookie in 2004, Roethlisberger has missed four games against the Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers are 0-4 without Roethlisberger under center.

The oddsmakers, as expected, have adjusted the line accordingly. The Steelers, expected to be a 3.5-point favorite with a healthy Roethlisberger are now plus-3 or higher at most sportsbooks. The adjustment is an enormous one for an NFL game, especially one with a total of only 41. Points are at a premium in this rivalry, and the oddsmakers consider the loss of Roethlisberger to be worth 6.5 points.

Here are the four occasions the Steelers faced the Ravens with someone besides Roethlisberger under center.

 

Nov. 20, 2005

Pittsburgh at Baltimore

Pittsburgh -3.5

Total: 33

Ravens 16, Steelers 13 (OT)

 

Roethlisberger was out with a knee injury for the Steelers Week 11 matchup with the Ravens. Without Ben, the 7-2 Steelers fell to the 2-7 Ravens in overtime in Baltimore, as third-stringer Tommy Maddox started for the Steelers. The Steelers would go on to win the Super Bowl with a healthy Roethlisberger.

 

Dec. 30, 2007

Pittsburgh at Baltimore

Pittsburgh -3

Total: 34.5

Ravens 27, Steelers 21

 

With nothing to play for, the Steelers went on the road to Baltimore with Charlie Batch starting and Roethlisberger resting. Still, the oddsmakers made the AFC North Champion Steelers favorites, but, once again, the Ravens beat a Steelers backup.

 

Nov. 29, 2009

Pittsburgh at Baltimore

Baltimore -9

Total: 35

Ravens 20, Steelers 17 (OT)

 

Dennis Dixon found himself in his first starting role on a Sunday night in Baltimore as Roethlisberger was forced out of the lineup with a concussion. The Steelers were considered underdogs, getting nine points to an above-average Baltimore team. Dixon delivered a gutsy performance, and the Steelers forced overtime, where the Ravens ultimately prevailed thanks to a Dixon interception.

 

Oct. 3, 2010

Baltimore at Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh -2

Total: 34.5

Ravens 17, Steelers 14

 

Serving the final game of a four-game suspension, Roethlisberger was once again unavailable against the Ravens. The Steelers had gone 3-0 without Ben, and they were well on their way to a 4-0 start behind strong play from Charlie Batch. However, after leading for a majority of the game, the Steelers defense allowed Joe Flacco to drive down the field with just over a minute left to connect on a game-winning touchdown pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with 32 seconds left.

 

The Steelers are 9-5 against the Ravens with Roethlisberger and 0-4 against them without their franchise quarterback. However, the Steelers are 5-1 against the spread over the last five seasons without Roethlisberger, and they have showed gutsy performances against their hated rivals without Big Ben. The line movement is significant, especially for a Baltimore team that struggles immensely on the road. And while the Steelers have never beaten the Ravens without Roethlisberger, they have never started Byron Leftwich against them. Leftwich has been a proven starter in the league. Even though the Ravens are 4-0 against the Steelers without Roethlisberger, three of the wins were by exactly three points. So the most important thing may be the line move, considering now the Ravens are giving three points and possibly more.

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