Todd Haley speaks wisdom, not cliches, when speaking of Byron Leftwich

Jared Wickerham

The bit about the standard being the standard isn't applicable in every situation. Come Sunday, the standard of quarterback play isn't going to be the same as when Ben Roethlisberger is playing. But that's not a bad thing, either.

Playing in shadows isn't easy. Playing in the shadow of Ben Roethlisberger has to be extraordinarily difficult.

What happens when you don't play in that shadow?

The easy storyline here is Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich will fill Big Ben's big shadow in their huge Week 11 game against division-leading Baltimore Sunday.

The reality is the Baltimore Ravens have not seen a duplicated copy of Roethlisberger coming out of the Steelers' offensive huddle. They have not seen how this offense plays with Leftwich - and not Roethlisberger, Dennis Dixon or Charlie Batch - under center.

And while the Steelers have lost the last four games against the Ravens with someone other than Roethlisberger under center, the last two - in 2009 and 2010 - were games decided by one field goal each.

It's not as if that shadow hasn't been cast aside before, and the Steelers answered the bell. Ravens fans (and even the snotty editor of their team web site) are pretty happy with themselves, and convinced of the Steelers' demise.

That theory holds well, assuming Leftwich tries to be Roethlisberger. He's not. His offensive coordinator doesn't want him to be. He's been dubbed by Doug Gottleib and Ephraim Salaam as "the least athletic black quarterback in NFL history."

That's quite the adjustment for a defense to make, particularly since there's barely any film on Leftwich to digest. They have 14 pass plays, and 32 total plays to break down.

The Steelers hold the element of surprise in this game. They also have one of the game's best tight ends, deep threats and outstanding depth at the receiver position.

Not to take anything away from Ben Roethlisberger, but stick Haley in a lab for a few days with the idea of coming up with something both workable by his offense and unexpected by a defense, chances are good whatever that is will work. Not to mention, this is the Steelers' 80th season anniversary game, one that will be viewed by scores of former players in a heavily charged atmosphere at Heinz Field.

Some may remember the last time the Ravens came to Heinz Field, played against the Steelers who were wearing their throwback jerseys in a celebration gala-game.

The Steelers may have better chances of winning games with Ben Roethlisberger under center, but Byron Leftwich doesn't need Roethlisberger's shadow to be successful against Baltimore.

And who knows? Maybe he just will go out and put up an amazing performance.

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