Late For Work 11/4: Big Ben Finally Responds To Suggs

Ground and pound or air it out? Keep an eye on Ngata; memorable officiating crew; picks.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Friday, November 4th, 2011 at 8:58 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Big Ben Finally Responds To Suggs

Finally somebody asked Ben Roethlisberger for his thoughts on Terrell Suggs’ already-legendary proclamation: “Big Ben, you know he’s a great quarterback. God can have his soul, but his [butt] belongs to me.”

Big Ben has never been much of a trash-talker and it wouldn’t be shrewd to give any more fuel to the man who says he “exists to stop” Roethlisberger.

But the Steelers quarterback did manage to get in one little jab during his overall respectful response.

“I’ve heard that quote,” Roethlisberger told Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ron Cook. “I’ve got no problem with it. It is what it is …

“I know Terrell a little bit. He’s actually a good guy. We joke around on the field, so I don’t think he meant anything bad by it. I just think he let out a little emotion after finally beating me.”

“Isn’t subtlety a beautiful thing?” wrote Cook. “After finally beating me?

“Touche.”

Cook tried to get Roethlisberger to say more. The Pittsburgh columnist reminded him that he could retort, “You might own my you-know-what, but I own your team.”

“I could go there, but I choose not to,” Roethlisberger said. Cook noted a grin on his face that seemed to say he was aware he’d beaten the Ravens in seven consecutive starts prior to the season-opening trounce.

Cook explained that while the Steelers don’t care about Suggs’ mouth, they do care about the threat he poses in the pass rush. Roethlisberger called Suggs “an animal” and compared him to Julius Peppers, Mario Williams and even the two pass rushers on his own team – LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison – but said he is bigger with the same skills.

The Steelers are focused on trying to slow him after he has sacked Roethlisberger more than any other NFL player. They know he is a playmaker who can change the momentum of the game at any time.

Pittsburgh will have a new blocker on Suggs in left tackle Max Starks, who has missed the last three Ravens-Steelers battles for various reasons. Jonathan Scott was holding that position down during those games, allowing 7 ½ sacks through them all.

“I’m here this morning to predict with great confidence the Steelers won’t turn the ball over seven times again,” wrote Cook. “I can’t predict with the same certainty, though, that Suggs won’t get three sacks again. That’s just enormous respect for Suggs. Pittsburgh would love him if he were on its team. He’s a special player.

“A big mouth maybe, but a very special player.”

Ground And Pound Or Air It Out?

When the Ravens and Steelers clash, the team that usually comes out victorious is the one that runs the ball better.

But the rivalry game could take on a different look Sunday … for both teams.

For the Steelers, Roethlisberger threw the ball 50 times in their win against the Patriots last week and has produced back-to-back 300-yard passing games.

“What I would suggest is [the Ravens] bring is pass-rush cleats,” wrote SI.com’s Peter King. “Big Ben will fill the air with footballs again. He’s on pace to throw 568 passes this year, 62 more than he ever has in a season, and there’s no reason for Mike Tomlin to go to Rashard Mendenhall against the Ravens front.”

For the Ravens, the key to slamming the Steelers in Week 1 was a balanced attack. They ran the ball 31 times for 170 yards and passed it 30 times for 215.

“The balance and production were admirable, virtually perfect,” wrote CSNBaltimore’s John Eisenberg. “But the Ravens have since gone to a more pass-happy scheme, throwing almost 60 percent of the time. And they’ll probably throw even more if Flacco is deployed in the gun more.

“They might use the spread more than before – and should, given last week’s results – but don’t expect it all the time, not even close.”

Week 9 Ravens-Steelers Picks

Despite a 35-7 beatdown in Round I, the Steelers are three-point favorites for Sunday night’s rematch at Heinz Field. (The home team is usually given three just for having the crowd behind them.)

If you add up the expert picks below (24 to 10 in favor of the Steelers), the Ravens are easily considered the underdogs.

But running back Ray Rice isn’t buying that label.

“I don’t see us as the underdog,” Rice said. ”The feeling is they are a divisional opponent, they’re a rivalry opponent, and we know what this game means. If we win, we’ve swept them for the season. We don’t have to worry about Pittsburgh no more the rest of the year. We control our own destiny. So, underdog, whatever it is, really is… Coming out of this game, we know what it means. It’s going to have that playoff-type atmosphere right now.”

Baltimore Sun: Four of seven pick the Steelers over the Ravens
ESPN: Seven of eight pick the Steelers over the Ravens
SI.com’s Peter King: Steelers 31, Ravens 27
USA Today: Five of eight pick the Steelers over the Ravens
Yahoo! Sports: Two of three pick the Steelers over the Ravens
PFT.com: One of two pick the Steelers over the Ravens
CBSSports.com: Four of five pick the Steelers over the Ravens

Picks total: Steelers 24, Ravens 10

Sanders ‘Unlikely’ To Play

Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders is not expected to play Sunday due to his mother’s death Tuesday.

“It’s hard when you lose your mother at a very young age, to come back and play,” Steelers Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians said, via the Post-Gazette. “Even if he makes it back in time, this is something we’re not expecting. Our prayers and hearts just go out to him and his family.”

Sanders has 18 receptions for 243 yards and two touchdowns.

Schefter Also Says Woodley Not Expected To Play

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter joins the Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac in reporting that Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley is not expected to play.

Woodley, who has said you can’t count him out and that will be a game-time decision, was limited in practice for the second consecutive day Thursday.

He injured his hamstring in a winning effort against the New England Patriots last Sunday. Rookie Chris Carter filled in for Woodley, the AFC Defensive Player of the Month, when he went down in the third quarter of that game.

Keep An Eye Out For Ngata On Injury Report

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata missed his second straight practice yesterday with a thigh injury. It is unclear how serious his injury is, but ESPN’s Jamison Hensley believes he will be ready to go Sunday night.

“No one has ruled out Ngata and there is a good chance the 6-foot-4, 330-pounder could still play because he’s extremely durable,” wrote Hensley. “He’s only missed two games in his six-year NFL career and has played in 30 straight games.”

“All pro ravens defensive tackle haloti ngata is expected to play sunday night despite missing past two days according to a league source,” added the Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson on Twitter.

The two-time Pro Bowler ranks fifth on the team in tackles (28), second in sacks (three) and first in forced fumbles (two).

Quick Hits

  • BaltimoreLuke(WNST beat reporter): Walt Coleman and his crew will officiate Ravens-Steelers on Sunday. He called the Santonio Holmes TD game in Baltimore in ’08. Have at it… [Twitter]
  • Head Coach John Harbaugh on what it’s like playing in this rivalry:  “It’s almost surreal. All of a sudden, everything’s different. You go into this dark place. It’s like you’re in this globe, in a good way, and suddenly there’s nothing outside of that moment, outside of that stadium. It’s unique to these games, and yet, both teams are so comfortable in that place. It’s where we’re supposed to be. It’s where they’re supposed to be. It’s hard to describe.” … Actually, that was pretty good.[NFL.com]
  • Plenty of variables will help determine whether the Ravens or Pittsburgh Steelers prevail Sunday night, but if Eisenberg had to pick one as the most crucial, he would go with the Ravens’ pass rush. [CSNBaltimore.com]
  • The bolstered pass rush stems from more than just additional blitzes. Improved coverage in the secondary and more substitutions are helping the Ravens get to quarterbacks at record rate. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Don Banks gives his “best division” midseason award to the AFC North. “The Steelers, Ravens and Bengals are all dangerous two-loss teams, and even last-place Cleveland is a competitive 3-4,” he wrote. “The secret to the division’s success? It drew the weak NFC West and AFC South in the league’s scheduling format this year.” [SI.com]

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