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Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger relishes his 'special rivalry' with Terrell Suggs

Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger relishes his 'special rivalry' with Terrell Suggs

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The last time Ben Roethlisberger faced the Baltimore Ravens, he threw for 506 yards and led four fourth-quarter scoring drives in a 39-38 Pittsburgh victory.

The teams meet again Sunday night in an AFC North showdown. Perhaps by then, Ravens safety Eric Weddle will recall just how good Roethlisberger was in that back-and-forth matchup last December.

"He had 500 yards against us?" Weddle asked Wednesday. "I thought we controlled him for the most part until the end. Huh. I don't know, obviously my memory's lost."

Weddle's lapse aside, it was one of many unforgettable performances by Roethlisberger in a rivalry that ranks among the best in the NFL. Since breaking into the league in 2004, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound quarterback has thrown 38 touchdown passes and won 14 of 24 games (including playoffs) against the Ravens.

Baltimore's defensive game plan Sunday night will focus primarily on stopping Roethlisberger.

"Obviously, he's capable of taking a game over, throwing the ball every play if he has to," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

Roethlisberger put the ball up 66 times in that December game, completing 44 with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

And man, he had a blast. Over the years, Roethlisberger has relished matching wits against several of the finest defensive players in NFL history.

"Do I like this rivalry? Yes and no," Roethlisberger said. "Yes, in the sense that it's just, man, I remember the days, and even now, still going against that guy, 55 (Terrell Suggs). Ray Lewis, (Haloti) Ngata, Ed Reed, the list goes on and on, guys I have the utmost respect for that are Hall of Fame players. It's fun in that sense.

"It's not fun because typically after this, you feel like you've been in five or six car wrecks. It takes a toll on your body. But in the sense of just being a purist and loving football, this is a great rivalry."

Roethlisberger has even warmed up to Suggs, a linebacker in his 16th season who loves to talk trash and smother the quarterback in the backfield.

"I was blessed to play against Ray Lewis, and I know Ed Reed's going to get in the Hall of Fame, too," Roethlisberger said. "But I've been going 14 years against Suggs, and he's a first-ballot guy for me. I'm not trying to pump him up because we're about to play them. I truly feel that way. I think there's a lot of mutual respect there. It's a special rivalry he and I have."

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin called it: "Two legendary competitors battling."

Harbaugh said, "It's been fun to be in those games and see those two iconic players go at it, that's for sure."

With the new NFL rules limiting the manner in which a player can bring down a quarterback, Roethlisberger chuckled when asked if he might be able to avoid enduring another painful afternoon due to Suggs.

"If he gets close to me," the quarterback said, "I'm asking for a flag."

Pittsburgh has won the last three games in this rivalry, but the Ravens won the previous four -- including a 30-17 victory in the 2015 playoffs.

Flacco was a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh when Roethlisberger broke into the NFL. They've been competing against each other since 2008, with neither enjoying a distinct advantage in wins and losses.

"I've had my eye on him for a while, so it's cool to be able to go into that stadium and play against those guys and play against him," Flacco said.

The Ravens defense can't say the same thing.

"Nothing but respect and admiration for what he's done over his career. It's a tough, tough challenge for us, but we're up for it," Weddle said. "Any quarterback that throws for supposedly 500 yards ... I still don't know if I believe you guys."


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Steelers players plunder Le'Veon Bell's locker a day after missed deadline


Steelers players plunder Le'Veon Bell's locker a day after missed deadline

Le'Veon Bell decided not to return to the Steelers this season, and his former teammates have apparently decided they can have his belongings. 

The All-Pro running back didn't sign his $14.5 million franchise tag by Tuesday's deadline, and thus is ineligible to play this season.

Steelers player were seen plundering his locker Wednesday in front of reporters. Defensive end Bud Dupree went right for Bell's cleats, thanking him for the Jordan brand shoes and saying he wishes Bell success.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told reporters he sent Bell his well-wishes, but got no response from his former backfield mate. 

It's unclear what Bell plans to do next, but it's crystal clear the Steelers have moved on, with his shoes in tow. 


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Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III prepared to start if hip injury sidelines Joe Flacco


Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III prepared to start if hip injury sidelines Joe Flacco

Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson has had his fair share of life changing moments. 

Winning the Heisman Trophy in 2016, being drafted by the Ravens in the first-round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and come Sunday, possibly his first NFL start.

With Joe Flacco nursing a hip injury suffered against the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 9, the 21-year-old could be leading the Ravens for a full 60 minutes against division rival Cincinnati Bengals in what could be a defining moment of their season.

"I'm just going into it like any other week," Jackson said Wednesday. "Just preparing for whatever."

While Jackson has appeared in all nine games going 7-for-12 for 87 passing yards and one touchdown, he is the only first-round quarterback out of the 2018 draft that has yet to start this season. 

When asked how he would feel if his name is called Sunday, Jackson said he would have butterflies at first but added once the ball is snapped, "it's on."

Through the Ravens' first half of the season, how and when Jackson is utilized at either quarterback or receiver, has lacked consistency. Add in the lack of highlight reel passes from him and many are concerned he's not ready for an NFL start. 

The fast style of NFL play compared to that of college football was something Jackson admittedly struggled with throughout the preseason. But with nine regular season games under his belt, Jackson feels that is the area where he's taken the biggest strides. 

"Calling the plays," Jackson said. "Before I'd have to ask coach a hundred times, 'say it again, say it again,' but now he says it one time to me. Don't get me wrong, sometimes if [the call] is long or whatever I have to ask [coach to] say it again, but other than that I'm getting better with that."

Head coach John Harbaugh offered no insight on who would be their starting quarterback on Sunday and it can be expected he'll keep hush up until the last moment. Flacco was not on the practice field during media availability Wednesday, either. 

But let's not forget the other veteran quarterback on their roster; Robert Griffin III

For the first time since 2009, the Ravens decided to keep three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster for this very reason.

After sitting out of football for a year, RGIII was given a second chance in Baltimore, but has been a gameday inactive since the start of the season. If the week progresses and neither Flacco or Jackson seem ready, it could be the comeback of the once Offensive Rookie of the Year. 

"That's my job. That's why they brought me here," Griffin III said Wednesday on if he feels prepared to possibly start. "They brought me here to be a pro. They brought me here to help this team if need be. I try to help the defense every week on scout team and then do those [reps], and if my number's called I'll be able to go out there and lead this team."

Both RGIII and Jackson said that it would be "awesome" if they were named the starting QB on Sunday, but that no matter who it ends up being they're all here for one another.

"I'm going to continue to help [Lamar] just like I have all season because we're about the Ravens here," Griffin III said. "It's not about individuals. We've got a pretty daunting task ahead with this Bengals team and then just with the rest of our schedule, so we've got to make sure we make the most of every opportunity."