This past Sunday night, with the Steelers on their way to a 43-23 win over the Ravens, Ben Roethlisberger exchanged words with Terrell Suggs. The Ravens linebacker had drawn a personal foul for hitting LeGarrette Blount and got in a shoving match with Le’Veon Bell two plays later.
Roethlisberger’s message? Calm down.
“I have a good relationship with him, lot of respect,” Roethlisberger said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “We’ve played against each other for a lot of years now, and we’re both pretty strong competitors. So I just said, ‘Hey, listen, let’s cut out the cheap stuff.’ We said, ‘This is typical Steelers/Ravens rivalry. We don’t need the cheap, dirty stuff.’ And he agreed. He said he would talk to his guys and I said I’ll talk to mine. Just tying to get cooler heads to prevail – because everyone enjoys this rivalry, including the players and the fans. It’s a great rivalry. It’s physical, and that’s one of the reasons the fans and people love it so much. We didn’t want anyone to get hurt off of it, and I think that was the biggest thing. Let’s not have a silly injury being cheap.”
But why try to reason with Suggs? He was the one initiating the extra-curricular activity!
“He is their leader,” Roethlisberger said, “so I figured if he did say something to them, he’d listen.”
The Ravens may have listened, but they certainly didn’t stop Big Ben, who threw for six touchdown passes for the second consecutive week. In fact, in his last two games, Roethlisberger is 65-of-86 (.756) for 862 yards, 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
“You know what? We’re executing,” Roethlisberger said. “We’re taking advantage of turnovers that our defense is getting us. The offensive line is blocking like crazy, and it makes it easy for me to just sit back there and just throw a ball and let the receivers, tight ends and running backs make all the plays.”
One of those receivers making plays is rookie Martavis Brytant, who has five touchdowns in his last three games.
“I don’t want to put too much on one guy, but it doesn’t hurt to have him out there,” Roethlisberger said. “He’s playing well. He still has a long way to go, and I think he’ll be the first one to tell you that. But if he keeps making plays, we’ll be happy with him.”
Antonio Brown, meanwhile, is playing like the superstar he’s become. In his last three games, he has 30 catches for 367 yards and three touchdowns.
Did Roethlisberger always know Brown had this in him?
“I always thought he was special from the day he got here,” Roethlisberger said. “His work ethic is unbelievable. He cares a lot about the game and wants to be the best. Just the way that he practices and plays is unbelievable. It doesn’t surprise me too much. I’m just glad he’s getting the credit he deserves – especially for being an undersized guy (5-10, 186 pounds). He’s plays like he’s 6-5, 250. It’s fun to see him every week. When he gets the ball in his hands, he could score every time. It’s fun.”
The Steelers, who have won three straight and four of five, now rank fourth in the league in passing offense (294.4 yards per game) and seventh in scoring offense (27.6 points per game).
Needless to say, Roethlisberger’s relationship with offensive coordinator Todd Haley – sometimes rumored to be a bit contentious – is coming along just fine.
“There never was an issue,” Roethlisberger said. “I think that we’ve got a good working relationship. Things are going well.”
The Steelers (6-3) play the Jets (1-8) in East Rutherford this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.