Ward: Forecast cloudy for Steelers minus Big Ben

Ward: Forecast cloudy for Steelers minus Big Ben
November 14, 2012, 4:45 am
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Despite the Steelers’ track record of playing the Ravens close when Pittsburgh has been without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward does not express much confidence in the Steelers’ chances against Baltimore without Big Ben.

Ward, just retired from a distinguished career as a Steelers receiver and general pain in the neck to the Ravens, has turned analyst for NBC. Asked on Pro Football Talk about the outlook for Pittsburgh should Roethlisberger be sidelined by the shoulder injury incurred against the Chiefs on Monday, Ward said:

“Not very well for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Going out there, they’ve got to have Ben on the field. One thing about him, to be able to extend plays; get outside the pocket, that’s when he’s at his best.  When you lose that element of the game and put Byron [Leftwich] in there, a guy who is less mobile, now everybody can just pin back their ears and go with the pass rush and the blitz and they change their dynamics of play calling.  So other guys have to go out and still make plays for Byron.”

Ward doesn’t give a Roethlisberger-less Steelers team much hope in the postseason should Pittsburgh manage to still qualify and this injury is serious enough to keep the QB out all season. How far could the Steelers go in the playoffs?

“Not very far, not very far at all,” Ward said. “He is their whole team. He is the leader of their team, he makes the offense go and all the guys around him, he makes them better. If Ben’s not on the field, it’s very hard for the Pittsburgh Steelers to go to where they want to go.”