Notebook: Ben healthy after perfect game

Ben Roethlisberger (Puskar/AP)

Ben Roethlisberger had the second perfect passer-rating of his career Monday night in a game he was determined to finish.

The Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback took a hit from Baltimore's Terrell Suggs on a third-down conversion midway through the third quarter and left the game with a bruised hip. He came back two series later.

"He got complete medical clearance from our medical staff," said Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. "He had a desire to do it. He's a competitor. This is a competitive game played by competitive men, coached by competitive men. Guys walk on the field; they desire to walk off the field. I wanted to give him that."

Roethlisberger was sacked upon re-entering the game. He was looking deep for a sixth touchdown pass, but it wouldn't have improved his perfect 158.3 passer rating. He previously posted a perfect number against Tennessee in the 2005 opener.

At the midway point of the season, Roethlisberger is second in the NFL with a 111.9 passer rating. New England quarterback Tom Brady is first at 131.8, which has lifted him into fifth place on the all-time list with a 92.2 rating.

Roethlisberger would rank sixth all-time at 91.9, but with 1,240 attempts he is 260 attempts shy of qualification.

Roethlisberger is also second in the league with 20 touchdown passes at the midway point of the season. Brady is first with 33.

Tomlin was asked at his weekly press conference if he ever thought Roethlisberger was capable of throwing 40 touchdown passes in a season.

"He has all the physical talent," Tomlin said. "He's big. He's strong. He's mobile. He can make any throw on the field. He's a smart guy. He looks like the 11th pick in the draft. Those guys have all the physical skill. Then the question is: Do they have the intangibles? That's what I was interested in and that's what I've been impressed with thus far from him."

BEN'S TOP DOG

Santonio Holmes caught four of Roethlisberger's passes Monday for a game-high 110 yards and two touchdowns. Holmes leads the Steelers with 30 catches, 536 receiving yards and six touchdown catches.

"He's got desire to be great," said Tomlin. "The stage is not too big for him. He wants to be a reason that we're successful. And aside from the things you see him doing with the ball in his hands, he has desire to play a complete game. He's doing a nice job perimeter blocking and trying to be a complete receiver."

SPEAKING OF THE PERIMETER ...

Speaking of blocking on the perimeter, Hines Ward laid waste to two Ravens with legal blocks on Monday night. The first was against linebacker Bart Scott and the second was against safety Ed Reed. Reed needed attention from the training staff, but Scott bounced up and began barking at Ward.

"He said he was going to kill me," said Ward.

On his radio show Tuesday, Scott said the hit was a cheap shot because the running back was on his way out of bounds. Scott promised to pay Ward and the Steelers back by the end of his career.

"I guess he don't like being blocked by a wide receiver," Ward said.

HARRISON FRESH

James Harrison felt that one of the keys to his big game Monday night was a reduction in his workload on special teams. Harrison covered punts for the Steelers and only one kickoff. He had previously been a part of three of the four major teams units.

"I definitely felt more fresh," he said.

TIME CHANGE

The Steelers' game at New England on Dec. 9 has been changed to 4:15 p.m. The league previously had changed the Steelers' Nov. 18 game at the New York Jets to 4:05 p.m. as part of the NFL's flexible scheduling plan, which is in effect over the final seven weeks of the season.

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