PITTSBURGH -- Terrell Suggs has hammered Ben Roethlisberger many times over the past decade. In fact, no player has sacked Roethlisberger more often than Suggs, who has toppled Big Ben 15.5 times during his career.
Yet, despite the punishing hits that Suggs has given him over the years, Roethlisberger stood in the Pittsburgh Steelers locker room Wednesday and tossed verbal bouquets in the rush linebacker’s direction.
“I respect him. I respect the way he play the game,” Roethlisberger said. “He plays it hard and he plays it physical, but he also respects the players. If he hits you and hits you hard, he’ll love it, but he wants to make sure you’re OK because he wants you to keep playing because he wants to keep hitting you.
Roethlisberger added, “He doesn’t have a dirty attitude like some of these young guys coming into the league at linebacker and [other] defensive players have. He has a respect for the players and the game, and I respect that.”
Suggs, who a couple of years ago famously boasted that he had dominion over Roethlisberger’s backside, didn’t get a chance to tackle Roethlisberger last season as the Steelers quarterback did not play against the Ravens. He sat out both games with a sprain to the sternoclavicular joint in his throwing shoulder and also dislocated rips.
Roethlisberger might not be looking forward to his bones getting smashed by Suggs, who has seven sacks in 2013, but he spoke of the “genuine respect” he has for Suggs.
“And I’m sure if you asked him, the same thing,” he said.
Suggs had already expressed it. Minutes before Roethlisberger held court in the Steelers locker room, Suggs had told Pittsburgh reporters on a Wednesday conference call about how much respect he has for the way the quarterback plays.
"This guy won two Super Bowl championships. He played in three," Suggs said. "The guy is a winner. I think I like that he has his own style. He's not like those other [top quarterbacks]. He's Big Ben. You can't do anything but respect a guy like that and his physical play."
Roethlisberger will see a few new faces when he looks across the line of scrimmage on Sunday. Mostly notably, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are gone. He joked that he will miss playing against Reed, “but not that much.” He acknowledged that Suggs is now the face of the Ravens defense, having been a big part of it since the 2003 season.
“He has obviously always been one of the best ones on that defense,” Roethlisberger said. “But without Ray and Ed now, he’s kind of the guy that’s been there now for a long time. Obviously Elvis [Dumervil] has helped on the opposite side. We’ve got to know where he’s at and it’s going to be a big-time challenge for all of our guys.”