1:00 PM ET, November 20, 2005
Pittsburgh (7-2) at Baltimore (2-7), Sunday 1:00 pm EST
Roethlisberger, who sports an 18-1 record as a starter during the regular season, has missed the last two games after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on November 3.
Roethlisberger suffered the injury in the first half of a 20-19 victory over the Ravens on October 31. He played the entire game and led a late drive that Jeff Reed capped with a 37-yard field goal with 1:36 remaining.
In Roethlisberger's absence, veteran Charlie Batch won a pair of starts. But Batch suffered a broken right hand in the first half of last week's 34-21 victory over Cleveland.
Tommy Maddox, the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2002, will likely start on Sunday for the Steelers. Ironically, Maddox lost his job to Roethlisberger after suffering an elbow injury against the Ravens here on September 19, 2004.
Maddox's return as the starter should be a brief one since Roethlisberger is expected to return for next Monday night's showdown against unbeaten Indianapolis.
After Roethlisberger suffered a left knee injury earlier this year, Maddox lost a start against Jacksonville. He completed just 11-of-28 passes for 154 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown in overtime.
Pittsburgh, which has won four straight games, is tied with Cincinnati for first place in the AFC North.
Expected to challenge the Steelers in the division, the Ravens have been among the NFL's biggest disappointments. The major culprit has been an offense that is averaging a league-low 11.1 points per game.
"We're not a good football team right now, but we've got seven opportunities, beginning this week, to change that," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "What this team is dealing with right now is the confidence in itself and being able to turn, or maintain, a certain amount of momentum."
After missing seven games with a hyperextended right big toe, Kyle Boller made an unsuccessful return in last week's 30-3 loss at Jacksonville. Boller completed his first seven passes but finished just 19-of-33 for 142 yards with three interceptions.
Baltimore has lost four straight and is in last place in the division.
Matchup to watch: Hines Ward, who became the Steelers' all-time leading receiver last week, faces left cornerback Chris McAlister.
Series: The Steelers lead, 13-6, with six wins in the last eight meetings.
Next week: Pittsburgh visits Indianapolis, November 28 Baltimore visits Cincinnati, November 28
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Expect physical play
This divisional rivalry is sure to be a physical confrontation between two teams that do not like each other at all. On Halloween night in Pittsburgh, the Ravens played the Steelers extremely tough with Pittsburgh squeaking out a win at the end of the game. When these two teams get together, their records are not as important as the passion with which both franchises attack one another. The Ravens were beaten badly by the Jaguars on Sunday and while their season has seemingly fallen apart, nothing jells a team together quite like a rivalry game.
Injuries continue to deplete both teams -- the Ravens will once again be without Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, and the Steelers will likely turn back to Tommy Maddox at quarterback with Charlie Batch and Ben Roethlisberger out due to injury. If you like physical football, this game will be well worth your time.
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|Avg Points Allowed||16.1||18.4|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||PIT|
|Rush Yds Allowed||PIT|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Pittsburgh leads 7-4|
|Oct 31, 2005||PIT 20, BAL 19|
|Dec 26, 2004||PIT 20, BAL 7|
|Sep 19, 2004||PIT 13, @BAL 30|
|Dec 28, 2003||PIT 10, @BAL 13|
|Sep 7, 2003||PIT 34, BAL 15|
|Dec 29, 2002||PIT 34, BAL 31|
|Oct 27, 2002||PIT 31, @BAL 18|
|Jan 20, 2002||PIT 27, BAL 10|
|Dec 16, 2001||PIT 26, @BAL 21|
|Nov 4, 2001||PIT 10, BAL 13|