Ravens seek to shut down Roethlisberger in game vs Steelers
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — 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.”