By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
2:29 PM EST, November 30, 2012
The Ravens' defense won't have to worry about being haunted Sunday by elusive Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, one of the best improvisational players in the league.
Instead, they'll try to exploit the emergency presence of struggling Steelers third-string quarterback Charlie Batch with Roethlisberger officially ruled out for Sunday's game at M&T Bank Stadium due to a sprained right shoulder and dislocated rib suffered during an overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this month.
Batch, 37, uncorked three interceptions last week in a loss to the Cleveland Browns, completing just 20 of 34 passes for 199 yards in his first start this season.
"We're ready for whoever they put out there," Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones said. "It's not about them. It's about us. We've got to take care of business at home.
"Batch's a good player. He's been in the league for a long time. He knows how to win. If he didn't, he wouldn't be the backup quarterback. We're ready to face him."
The last time the Ravens played the Steelers without Roethlisberger in the lineup two weeks ago, they won a taut 13-10 thriller where Pittsburgh backup quarterback Byron Leftwich threw one interception and broke his ribs.
The Steelers have now lost both of the games Roethlisberger has missed this season.
"We have a great game plan regardless of who's at the helm and playing quarterback," cornerback Cary Williams said. "This league doesn't stop, and we understand the importance of this game."
Prior to Roethlisberger being ruled out, Ravens coach John Harbaugh compared his potential dramatic return to NBA legend Willis Reed.
"I'm expecting to see Willis Reed come jogging down the tunnel," Harbaugh said. "I tried it with the players. Most of them didn't know Willis Reed, so it didn't go over."
Ravens starting inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe characterized his status as a last-minute decision heading into Sunday.
Ellerbe acknowledged he was extremely limited Friday when he returned to practice after missing the previous two days because of a right foot and ankle injury suffered against the San Diego Chargers.
"We'll see how it feels," Ellerbe said. "It's going to be a game-time. I'm getting better every day."
Ellerbe said the swelling has gone down, but indicated he didn't do much at practice Friday.
"I'm ready to go," said Ellerbe, who also has a knee injury, a broken thumb and a sprained thumb. "It went slow. I didn't do nothing today. .. The swelling, they say it's looking good. It's just the strength. I didn't turn it, somebody fell on it. I can't stop that."
If Ellerbe is unable to play or handle a full workload, special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo would step in for him. Albert McClellan is expected to rotate inside, too.
"We definitely need Ellerbe on this championship run," Ayanbadejo said. "But if my name is called I'll always be ready."
Ravens tight end Ed Dickson is doubtful with a sprained and bruised right knee. He didn't practice all week and is regarded as a long shot to play Sunday.
Defensive end Pernell McPhee (right knee, thigh) and cornerback Chris Johnson (strained hamstring) are questionable.
The following players are probable for Baltimore: wide receiver Anquan Boldin (knee), nose guard Terrence Cody (elbow), cornerback Corey Graham (stomach virus), tight end Dennis Pitta (neck), safety Bernard Pollard (rib contusion), safety Ed Reed (torn labrum in his shoulder), wide receiver Torrey Smith (thigh) and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles tendon).
McPhee has missed the past four games with Jones starting in his place.
Boldin fined, Pollard isn't
Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin was fined $7,875 for his unnecessary roughness penalty against the San Diego Chargers, according to NFL spokesman Corry Rush.
While Boldin wasn't fined for his crushing, legal block on Chargers safety Eric Weddle on Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice's dramatic 4th-and-29 conversion, he was punished for a personal foul committed in the fourth quarter.
Boldin threw Chargers cornerback Marcus Gilchrist to the ground and shoved him in the back, drawing the penalty.
Meanwhile, strong safety Bernard Pollard wasn't fined for his penalty after being flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless receiver for his collision with Chargers wide receiver Danario Alexander.
Replays showed that Pollard actually led with his shoulder, but the penalty gave the Chargers a first down and a Nick Novak field goal.
"I know how to play football," Pollard said. "When I'm right, I'm right."
Ogden, Modell semifinalists for Hall
Retired Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and the late former majority owner Art Modell are among the 27 semifinalists up for consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013.
The first draft pick in franchise history prior to the Ravens' inaugural season in 1996, Ogden joins the following five first-year candidates: offensive lineman Larry Allen, kicker Morten Anderson, safety John Lynch, defensive tackle Warren Sapp and defensive end Michael Strahan.
The Ravens won a Super Bowl with Modell, who passed away on Sept. 6, as their primary owner following the 2000 season.
Modell later sold his majority interest to Anne Arundel County businessman Steve Bisciotti. The controversial move of the Cleveland Browns to Maryland has been a major obstacle to Modell's candidacy despite his many contributions to the game, including the creation of Monday Night Football.
Ogden was regarded as the best left offensive tackle in his era, stonewalling pass rushers with his nimble feet and massive 6-foot-9, 340-pound frame.
Ogden is considered a lock to make the Hall of Fame as a first-ballot candidate, but Modell faces a more difficult road to induction.
The last time Modell was a finalist was in 2001. He has been a semifinalist the past four years.
The Ravens' ambition isn't confined to trying to repeat as AFC North champions. They're angling toward the Super Bowl, which will be played in New Orleans at the Louisiana Superdome. "We know where we want to go: Louisiana is where our eyes are," Pollard said. "That's in our eyesight. I would be lying if I said it wasn't." ... The Steelers also ruled out outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (ankle), Leftwich and offensive tackle Mike Adams (ankle). Pittsburgh gets back two Pro Bowl selections in wide receiver Antonio Brown and safety Troy Polamalu from injuries this weekend.