Ben Roethlisberger: More Respect in Ravens Rivalry Than With Bengals


The Steelers-Bengals game on Monday Night Football turned ugly, leaving multiple players with major injuries and two players suspended.

While some have simply called it "AFC North football," it's not what Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sees in Pittsburgh's rivalry with Baltimore.

Roethlisberger said there's a "respectful hatred" between the two bitter rivals, which will be renewed this Sunday night in Pittsburgh for a national audience to see.

"In that [rivalry with Cincinnati], it feels like it's almost like you're out there just to hit people," Roethlisberger told the Baltimore media Wednesday. "There's not the same respect. We don't feel the same respect from them that we and Baltimore have. I'm not really sure why."

Part of the difference may be that the Ravens-Steelers rivalry has been pretty even. Since 2008, when Head Coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco arrived, the two teams have split 11-11, including the playoffs.

Over that same period, the Steelers own a 16-5 record against the Bengals, including knocking Cincinnati out of the 2015 playoffs in another nasty game that included a late helmet-to-helmet hit by linebacker Vontaze Burfict on wide receiver Antonio Brown that left him concussed and unable to play the following week.

On Monday Night Football, Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster blindsided Burfict with a vicious block that sent him off the field on a backboard and cart. Brown was later hit late in the helmet by Bengals safety George Iloka. Smith-Schuster and Iloka have both been suspended for one game.

Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace has been on both sides, having spent his first four years in Pittsburgh and the last two in Baltimore. He said the Ravens-Steelers rivalry is "no doubt" better than Steelers-Bengals.

"I don't think it's close," he said. "This one is a rivalry, that one started to get more personal."

With that said, the Ravens-Steelers rivalry has a collection of bone-crunching tackles in its history. Here's a quick review of some of the biggest:

2006 – Ravens linebacker Bart Scott de-cleats Roethlisberger
2008 – Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis breaks running back Rashard Mendenhall's shoulder when they meet in the hole
2009 – Ravens running back Willie McGahee gets blown up by Steelers safety Ryan Clark
2010 – Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata breaks Roethlisberger's nose
2010 – Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward levels an unsuspecting Ed Reed, leaving him woozy
2011 – Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson gives Ward a taste of his own medicine
2013 – Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw drills Roethlisberger in the chest

"If you look at highlight tapes, look at the past, there's definitely been those type of hits in the Ravens-Steelers rivalary," linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "I think recently, it hasn't been that violent. There's definitely been some hard hits, but not people intentionally trying to hurt each other."

Big hits are still part of the rivalry. As Mosley said, "I know [Terrell Suggs] is not going to tackle Ben softly." But it's different.

"You're going to battle it out all game, but at the end of it, you're going to shake hands, give the other guy a hug and say, 'Man, that was a lot of fun, can't wait to do it again next year,'" Roethlisberger said.

"Your body isn't saying that, but it's a fun rivalry in the sense that there's a lot of respect and they're two good football teams."

There's even respect between Roethlisberger and Suggs, who says he enjoys sacking no quarterback more than he does Big Ben.

"He's one of the best I've ever played against. I have a lot of respect for him," Roethlisberger said of Suggs. "I'm sure if he hasn't already talked to the media, he'll throw some good one-liners at me. But it's a lot of respect and he's playing at a real high level. He doesn't show any signs of slowing down. I wish he would though."

Multiple Ravens players and Head Coach John Harbaugh agreed with Roethlisberger's statement on the respect at the core of the rivalry.

"It's a great rivalry, we love playing in it. It's the most physical game we play every single year," Harbaugh said. "But we have respect for them and we look forward to playing them."

"It's just a fun football game," quarterback Joe Flacco added. "It's a good old-fashioned football game that you love to be a part of."

Wallace talked about how he felt about the Ravens when he was standing on the Steelers' sideline. He used to have major beef with Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb.

"I hated them, but there was respect too," Wallace said. "You just hated them because it was so hard to beat them. Sizz will talk about Ben all day, but at the end of the day, I know he respects him and vice versa. There's a lot of hate, but I think just as much hate, there's the same amount of respect on each side."

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