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Ravens Courtney Upshaw hit on Steelers Ben Roethlisberger took its toll

Pass protection isn't a positive attribute of the Steelers' offense so far in 2014. One hit provided enough damage on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to make us wonder how many more of those hits he can take.

Patrick Smith

It looked painful, to say the least.

Early in Baltimore's eventual 26-6 victory over the Steelers in Week 2, Ravens outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw planted his helmet into the chest of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, getting him off of his feet and onto the ground. The hit was flagged and could still draw a fine from the league.

Some will consider the lost yards collateral damage and the fine money well-spent. Roethlisberger appeared out of sync the remainder of the game, missing on multiple throws and not throwing with the same kind of conviction fans have come to expect from the veteran quarterback.

Upshaw's intent was not to injure Roethlisberger, but Big Ben didn't see him coming and Upshaw teed off on him. As Roethlisberger told Tribune Review reporter Alan Robinson, "I lost my breath instantly and remember hitting the ground thinking, ‘Boy, that hurt a lot.' I kind of pride myself on not taking those big hits, but I sure as heck didn't see it coming."

The Steelers offense never adjusted to the mix of Cover 2 and 4 the Ravens were running at them, and nothing ever really got on track. Whether the hit itself caused that level of chaos among the Steelers' offensive game plan, or if the Ravens' ability to disrupt from the defensive side of the ball got the best of them, the hit on No. 7 was one of the (less) memorable aspects of the game for the Steelers, and another indication pressure is coming too often and too early in this young 2014 season.

The Steelers face Carolina Sunday, one of the best defenses in the NFL, and the concern has to exist whether Roethlisberger will be given enough time to get the ball on target down the field, or if he's going to see the pass rush plow its way into him on each drop-back.