Raiders, Rams, Jaguars and Bills all out of the running for Big Ben

At the start of the week, there was speculation that the Raiders, Rams, Jaguars and Bills were all trade possibilities for Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. But after the Rams and Bills both dropped out of the running on Wednesday, the Jaguars and Raiders followed suit today and now the Steelers don’t appear to have any viable trade partners heading into tonight’s draft.

In reality, the Raiders were the only team that made sense, because they’re the only team that wouldn’t care about Big Ben’s contract, off-field baggage and six-game suspension at the start of next season. There should be no bigger wake up call to a player then when even Al Davis doesn’t want you. (Actually, Davis probably doesn’t want Roethlisberger because he doesn’t want to admit that he made a colossal mistake by drafting JaMarcus Russell four years ago.)

According to ESPN’s John Clayton, the Cardinals have contacted the Steelers about a possible trade, but did not make an offer that would lead to a deal getting done soon. Ken Whisenhunt was Big Ben’s offensive coordinator for three years in Pittsburgh, so it would make sense that Arizona would be interested. But at the end of the day, Roethlisberger will likely still be a Steeler in 2010.

For now, the only thing Pittsburgh can do is ride out Ben’s suspension and hope he learns something from it. They’ll prepare for Week 1 with Bryon Leftwich and Dennis Dixon competing for the starting job, then figure out Roethlisberger’s future at a later time.

It could be a rough year in the “Steel City.”

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Dixon’s only mistake costs Steelers in loss to Ravens

For all intents and purposes, Dennis Dixon only made one mistake on Sunday night but unfortunately for him and the Steelers, that one mistake cost them a potential victory.

Dixon’s interception in overtime set the table for the Ravens to kick a game-winning field goal in a 20-17 victory. The win helped Baltimore improve to 6-5 on the season and kept its playoff hopes alive, while Pittsburgh fell to 6-5 and has now lost three in a row.

Dixon, a third stringer making his first career start, gave the Steelers a chance to win in the second half when he broke off a 24-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. He also threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes in the second quarter and had a 31-yard run called back due to a holding call.

But on the possession following his fourth quarter touchdown run, the Ravens converted on a 4th and 5 from their own 46-yard line when Joe Flacco hit Ray Rice on a 44-yard completion. The drive ended in a field goal, which potentially forced overtime with the score tied 7-7.

Take away Dixon’s interception and the Steelers’ offense played pretty good – ultra conservative, but good. It was Pittsburgh’s defense that yielded several big plays, including Rice’s fourth down reception and a 54-yard reception by Mark Clayton late in the second half that set up a 10-yard Derrick Mason touchdown. If the Steelers had limited the big plays, Dixon’s effort would have been enough.

Pittsburgh needs a healthy Troy Polamalu back in the lineup if it has any chance of making another run at a Super Bowl, nevertheless the playoffs. Without him, Pittsburgh’s defense is good but certainly not great, which has been evident the past couple weeks.

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