Ben Roethlisberger: Rivalry with Ravens has more ‘respect’ than one with Bengals
Monday night’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals was one of the most violent NFL contests you will ever see, and that is oftentimes the case when AFC North rivals square off. However, Ben Roethlisberger insists the bad blood that exists between his team and the Bengals is different from that between the Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens.
On Wednesday, Roethlisberger was asked about two players being disciplined for illegal hits in Pittsburgh’s 23-20 win over Cincinnati. Does he expect more of the same in Sunday’s game against the Ravens?
“In that one [with the Bengals], it feels like almost, just, you’re out there to hit people, and we don’t feel the same respect from them that Baltimore and we have,” Big Ben said, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. “I’m not really sure why.”
It’s no coincidence that one of the illegal hits on Monday — JuJu Smith-Schuster’s crack-back block — came on a play that involved Vontaze Burfict. The Bengals linebacker has a long history of dirty play, a lot of which has come during battles with the Steelers. Smith-Schuster proved there is no love lost between the Steelers and Bengals when he stood over Burfict and taunted him.
After the game, Roethlisberger said the aggressive play was just the nature of AFC North football. He took a slightly different tone on Wednesday.
“The difference between this game and the Cincinnati game is these two teams — us and Baltimore — there’s always a respect involved in it,” Roethlisberger said. “You’re going to get hit really hard or you’re going to hit somebody really hard, but you’re going to help them up and say, ‘Man, nice job.’
“At the end of it, you’re going to shake hands and give the other guy a hug and say that was a lot of fun and can’t wait to do it next year. It’s a fun rivalry in the sense that there’s a lot of respect and there are two good football teams.”
Translation: The Bengals and Steelers don’t like each other. There’s no reason to think that will change in the near future.