The curious case of Benjamin Roethlisberger

Over the last four seasons, the Ravens have beaten the Steelers three times.

There’s one major problem with that, and it’s especially concerning for the Ravens faithful entering this weekend’s divisional round game against Pittsburgh: Every one of those victories has come without Ben Roethlisberger under center for the Steelers.

Roethlisberger has not lost to the Ravens in six games, and he has posted an impressive 8-2 career record against his team’s arch rival.

The Ravens have capitalized every time he hasn’t been on the field, winning games when Roethlisberger was sidelined due to injuries or suspension, but they haven’t been able to solve Big Ben since December 2006.

Believe me, those at Ravens headquarters are aware of that fact.

Ben_Roethlisberger.jpg“Yeah, it bothers me a lot,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “I’d rather we (had) won. We want to win those games. Obviously, he’s a really good quarterback. It seems like we see great quarterbacks a lot. We’ve beaten our fair share, but we haven’t beaten him, so it’s our turn.”

The question from the Ravens’ perspective going into Saturday’s key matchup is: What needs to get fixed? What specifically do they need to focus on to get over the hump and beat Roethlisberger?

The easy answer is that the Ravens need to bring Pittsburgh’s bulky quarterback down when they have a shot at him. At 6-foot-5, 241 lbs., Roethlisberger is build like a defensive end. Wrapping him up and wrestling him to the ground isn’t an easy task, but it’s one the Ravens will need to focus on.

But beyond that, linebacker Jarret Johnson says the Ravens need to be careful of how they pursue Roethlisberger and make sure that he doesn’t get a chance to buy himself time out of the pocket.

“We’re a pressure team, and when we get to him, it’s great,” Johnson said. “But what’s hurt us is when we pressure him and flush him out of the pocket but don’t get him on the ground. That’s when he’s really cost us. With him, you’ve got to pressure him and move him off a spot and all that stuff, but when he gets out is when he’s killed us. He’s kind of one of those guys you’ve got to keep in the pocket, so rush lanes are very important.”

On a conference call with Baltimore reporters earlier this week, Roethlisberger was asked why he’s had so much success against the Ravens over the years.

“I don’t think there’s any magic recipe other than I guess I’m lucky,” Roethlisberger said. “That’s all there is.”

Told of Roethlisberger’s comment, Johnson smiled.

“Yeah. I don’t know about that,” Johnson said. “They’re a good team. There’s one thing about this team - if you win this game, you’ve earned it. Even though there’s luck that falls in every game, you win these games, for us or them, you’ve earned it.”

If the Ravens are able to get the win on Saturday, they certainly will have earned it. Roethlisberger’s a tough guy to solve, and always seems to make a big play in a crucial spot (see: the controversial touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes two years ago or the game-winning TD pass to Isaac Redman in Week 13 this year).

The Ravens got within three minutes of beating Roethlisberger and all but clinching the division title in that game in December. With a spot in the AFC championship on the line this weekend, now’s as good a time as any for the Ravens to finally finish the job and beat Big Ben.

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