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Steelers are 1-6 against Ravens with Ben Roethlisberger sidelined

PITTSBURGH -- The Baltimore Ravens see Ben Roethlisberger on the field more often than not when facing the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

But they’ve also seen Dennis Dixon, Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich, Mike Vick and possibly Landry Jones on Sunday in M&T Bank Stadium.

Coming off Oct. 17 surgery to repair a torn left meniscus, Roethlisberger could miss his eighth Steelers-Ravens game in 12-plus NFL seasons. That's a surprising number for Roethlisberger, who's known as one of the NFL's toughest quarterbacks and started throwing in practice eight days post-surgery.

Roethlisberger might work his way back this week, but that's no guarantee since the knee injury needs time to heal.

Roethlisberger’s injury history oddly aligns with the purple portion of the NFL calendar. He’s missed 20 career regular-season games due to injury, suspension or, in the case of a Week 17 loss to the Ravens in 2007, a rest day after the Steelers had clinched a playoff berth.

No team benefits from a Roethlisberger absence quite like the Ravens, who are 6-1 against the Steelers when Big Ben doesn’t play and 8-9 when he does (regular season only).

In comparison with other AFC North foes, Roethlisberger has never missed a Cincinnati Bengals matchup and has played in 22 games against the Cleveland Browns.

This pattern is hard to explain. The schedule has just fallen that way. In 2012, Roethlisberger missed three games due to injury. Two of them were against Baltimore. Nobody could have planned that.

Baltimore arguably plays Big Ben and the Steelers tougher than any divisional team. Consider these numbers for Roethlisberger:

Vs. Ravens: 9-8 record, 326-of-545 passing, 3,906 yards, 27 TD, 18 INT

Vs. Browns: 20-2 record, 389-of-621 passing, 5,323 yards, 35 TDs, 17 INTs

Vs. Bengals: 18-7 record, 504-of-796 passing, 5,854 yards, 33 TDs, 27 INT

The Steelers always seem to play Baltimore tight even without Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh never has lost by more than six points in those six regular-season losses without its star quarterback.

But the Steelers would gladly take the security of a franchise quarterback in this matchup.

Quarterback coach Randy Fichtner isn't putting anything past Big Ben.

"Ben is always going to neeed less (practice) reps," Fichtner said. "I know he can take less reps and be effective. He’s got a lo tof in-houes perspective."