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Steelers' Roethlisberger ruled out for Ravens game

Steelers' Roethlisberger ruled out for Ravens game

PITTSBURGH (AP) For the third consecutive game, the Steelers will be without their star quarterback. At least it appears as if they'll have the quarterback of their defense and the reigning team MVP back on the field.

Ben Roethlisberger will not play Sunday in Baltimore, meaning Charlie Batch will make his second consecutive start at quarterback for the Steelers (6-5), who have lost each of the first two games Roethlisberger missed.

Unlike a defeat at home two weeks ago to the rival Ravens (9-2) and an upset loss this past Sunday in Cleveland, however, the Steelers likely will have safety Troy Polamalu and receiver Antonio Brown in uniform and active.

Polamalu and Brown both practiced fully all week and are listed as probable.

Brown, voted MVP by his teammates last season, confirmed he will play against the Ravens. But he did add, ``I'm definitely sore, definitely feeling it right now.''

Brown was knocked out of a 24-20 win over the New York Giants Nov. 5 due to an ankle injury. He was walking gingerly in the locker room.

``But you've got to persevere,'' Brown said, ``and get there and take care of myself. I don't want to put a percent on (how the ankle feels). I'm just relying on my spirit right now. I'm looking forward to Sunday, excited for the opportunity to get back out there.''

Brown expects to add to the four career passes he's caught from Batch, who threw three interceptions in a 20-14 loss in Cleveland that dropped him to 5-3 as a starter over 11 seasons in Pittsburgh.

Roethlisberger threw briefly early in practice Friday but was in a sweat suit watching by the time practice ended. He will miss a third consecutive game since sustaining a sprained right shoulder and a dislocated rib in a 16-13 win against Kansas City Nov. 12.

With top backup Byron Leftwich (ribs) also out, the Steelers turn again to the Batch, 37.

``He's getting more and more comfortable. You could tell last week - that first day of practice - he was kind of a little off,'' receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. ``But this entire week, he's had three good practices, and we're looking forward to it hopefully transitioning to the game.''

Polamalu, a five-time All Pro, has not played a full game since the opener in Denver because of a right calf injury. He returned to play against the Philadelphia Eagles Oct. 7 but left in the first quarter when he re-aggravated the injury. Without him, though, the Steelers have ascended to No. 1 rankings in total defense and in passing defense.

``It means a lot (having Polamalu back), getting leadership and stability out there again,'' defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau said. ``Our guys have done a good job without him. I don't think he will be able to be out there every snap but he is going to be able to take a significant role.

``Let's face it: When you can have him on the field, it's a plus for us.''

Also ruled out for the Ravens game is linebacker LaMarr Woodley. Woodley left Sunday's game in Cleveland during the first quarter with an ankle injury. Fill-in Jason Worilds had two sacks the rest of the game to give him a team-high five.

With rookie Mike Adams (ankle) not available Sunday, the Steelers turn to their third-string right tackle, rookie seventh-round pick Kelvin Beachum. That might not be the only shuffling along the offensive line. Guard Willie Colon is listed as questionable due to a knee injury that flared up late last week and prevented him from playing in Cleveland.

Colon returned to practice - albeit in a limited capacity - on Friday after sitting out the Wednesday and Thursday. If he cannot play, the Steelers will move All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey to left guard and start Doug Legursky at center.

Pouncey's athleticism makes him a good fit for guard, a position the Steelers originally considered putting him at after drafting him in 2010.

``I'm going do what's best for the team,'' Pouncey said. ``The coaches asked me to do it, and I said, `Not a problem.' It's football. I'm an O-lineman, and I've got to adjust to it. It's still run blocking and pass blocking. It's not like I'm running screens or anything.''

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NOTES: WR Jerricho Cotchery (ribs) is questionable, while LT Max Starks (back) and NT Casey Hampton (illness) are probable. ... The Steelers haven't lost three in a row since 2009. ... After the Ravens game, Pittsburgh closes with San Diego, Dallas, Cincinnati and Cleveland.

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Ravens' John Harbaugh credits early offensive success to Joe Flacco

Ravens' John Harbaugh credits early offensive success to Joe Flacco

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -- John Harbaugh has seen Joe Flacco play in more than 170 games for the Ravens, including 15 in the postseason with an MVP effort in the Super Bowl.

Though Baltimore's coach is hard-pressed to remember them all, Harbaugh ranks Flacco's performance against Denver on Sunday among the best.

Flacco went 25 for 40 for 277 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions in Baltimore's 27-14 victory . He's put up better numbers during his 11-year career, but this outing stood out because of the fashion in which Flacco zipped the ball short, long and in between.

"He's had a lot of good throwing days, right? But definitely ... it's in the top category," Harbaugh said Monday. "That's what you'd like to see Joe do. I just think it's a combination of a lot of things, including confidence in the guys that he's throwing to."

Harbaugh became Baltimore's head coach in 2008, the same year Flacco entered the NFL. The pair has gone through a lot together, most recently three straight seasons without a playoff appearance.

The Ravens (2-1) hope an improved offense will turn things around.

It's been a long time since Flacco has had so many capable receivers to choose from. Offseason acquisitions Willie Snead, Michael Crabtree and John Brown have been excellent, and Mark Andrews got into the mix Sunday with 59 yards receiving, a Ravens record for a rookie tight end.

"I'm really pleased with all those guys. They're playing really well and they've made big plays," Harbaugh said.

With Flacco leading the way, the Ravens went 8 for 16 on third down against a team that stopped 17 of 22 attempts in its first two games.

"All the receivers have a good chemistry with Joe," Brown said. "It's all about trust, starting with practice and talking with him to see if we're seeing the same thing. That plays a big part of it."

The Ravens have long been known for their defense, and that unit has played well. But, at least for now, the offense is doing its part, too.

After Denver bolted to a 7-0 lead, Baltimore went the distance on a soothing touchdown drive.

"That was the tone setter for us as a team, to have them answer for us and really get us back to even," safety Eric Weddle said. "And, once we settled down, shoot, defense played lights out."

As did the offense -- again. The Ravens are averaging 32 points per game, and Flacco has completed 82 of 129 passes for 889 yards and six TDs with just two interceptions.

Most impressive of all is Baltimore's performance in the red zone: 12 trips, 12 touchdowns, including 3 for 3 against Denver.

"We've had a good mix. I think we've probably thrown the ball in six times and run the ball in six times," Flacco said. "If you can do both of those things, especially when you get down tight inside the 5-yard line, that helps a lot. We've got good playmakers, and we put a lot of pressure on the defense with the guys that we have out there."

Give credit to the receivers, along with the running back tandem of Alex Collins and Javorius Allen, but Harbaugh knows the real reason why Baltimore has been unstoppable inside the 20.

"It probably starts with Joe," Harbaugh said. "I think Joe has done a great job making plays, making throws, trusting his guys and also extending some plays. That's been big."

The Ravens escaped the Denver game without any serious injuries, and Harbaugh hopes middle linebacker C.J. Mosley (knee) can return for an AFC North showdown Sunday night with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Ravens Week 3 Player of the Game: LB Kenny Young

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens Week 3 Player of the Game: LB Kenny Young

What the Ravens have lost in three-time Pro Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosley due to injury, they've gained in rookie Kenny Young.

Week 2 against the Bengals, Young stepped in for Mosley and put up five solo tackles and three assists. Then when Week 3 came around and Mosley was still too injured to play, Young got the start and logged 44 snaps. He finished with eight solo tackles, two assists and a critical third-down sack on Broncos quarterback Case Keenum in the second quarter. Young's stingy performance helped fuel a stellar defensive effort in the Ravens' 27-14 victory.

A fourth-round draft pick out of UCLA, Young has the maturity needed to succeed in this league.

Obsessed with perfection, as noted in a profile done via the Ravens' website, Young is already impressing his coaches and veteran teammates. 

He’s a smart guy, so he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a mistake,” Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s not scared to make a mistake. He’s willing to play fast even if he does make a mistake. And sometimes, some of the plays you see him making? He might not be perfectly where he’s supposed to be, but that willingness to play fast overcomes it, and you go make a good football play.

While the timetable for Mosely's return is unknown, the Ravens can find solace in knowing their young replacement is a steady hand.

The 23-year-old currently leads the team in tackles (17), followed by Tony Jefferson (12). 

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