Former stars see Big Ben shine

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PITTSBURGH --- Hall of Famers galore lined the Steelers' sideline, with Terry Bradshaw and Mean Joe Greene, Jack Ham, Mel Blount and Franco Harris out front. No wonder the Baltimore Ravens probably thought they were playing all of them and the current day Steelers, too.

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger scrambles during a downpour in the first quarter against Baltimore. Roethlisberger capitalized on four Ravens' turnovers in the first half, throwing a career-high five touchdown passes before intermission.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger scrambles during a downpour in the first quarter against Baltimore. Roethlisberger capitalized on four Ravens' turnovers in the first half, throwing a career-high five touchdown passes before intermission.

Ben Roethlisberger tied the Steelers' single-game record with five touchdown passes in the first half as Bradshaw stood nearby cheering him on, and Pittsburgh put on a Steel Curtain-like defensive show for its returning stars by forcing four turnovers before halftime in a 38-7 victory over Baltimore on Monday night.

The Ravens (4-4) had a chance to tie for the AFC North lead by beating the Steelers (6-2) for a fourth consecutive time dating to 2005.

In reality, they had no chance at all. Not with all the big names gathered to celebrate the Steelers' 75th anniversary, whooping it up and pounding each others' backs with every big hit and turnover.

The Steelers forced three fumbles in the first quarter alone, with James Harrison hitting All-Pro safety Ed Reed so hard on a punt return the ball flew nearly 15 feet before Pittsburgh recovered. Four plays later, Roethlisberger found Santonio Holmes for 15 yards on the first of their two opening-half touchdown pass plays and a 14-0 Steelers lead. Holmes had 110 yards on four receptions.

Right about then, it was becoming obvious this wouldn't be a repeat of Baltimore's two routs of the Steelers by scores of 31-7 and 27-0 a season ago.

Harrison, a one-time non-drafted free agent who became a starter after former Pro Bowl linebacker Joey Porter was released during the off-season, seemed to torment Ravens quarterback Steve McNair on nearly every down. He had two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, an interception and 21/2 sacks before halftime in a Jack Lambert-like performance/

Roethlisberger, still in the game with the Steelers holding a 28-point lead, was injured when he was pushed to the turf by Terrell Suggs on a 45-yard completion to Holmes in the third quarter, but returned early in the fourth after having his right hip examined.


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