From Ben’s Q&A with the media this afternoon:
Ben Roethlisberger didn’t practice on Wednesday as the Steelers began their preparation for the Baltimore Ravens, but fear not, it wasn’t injury related and he will be good to go on Sunday when the two teams meet on Christmas at Heinz Field.
Sunday’s game will have a lot on the line, as a win would clinch the AFC North for the Steelers.
“You would like it not to have to come down to it, but if it is, who better than to play the Ravens at home on Christmas?” said Roethlisberger. “I’m assuming this is what the NFL wanted.”
The Ravens won the first meeting between the two teams, 21-14, on Nov. 6 in a game where they shut down the Steelers’ running game, allowing just 36 yards. Getting the running game going this time against the Ravens is something that will be a key.
“It helps. I mean, to be balanced, to be able to run, and they’re the No. 1 or No. 2 ranked defense against the run, it’s an awesome challenge for our guys,” said Roethlisberger. “I know linemen are going to take that challenge and Le’Veon (Bell) as well. It takes everybody. The wide receivers, they have to be better at blocking. Tight ends, everyone has to rise up to the challenge in order for us to run the ball effectively.”
More from Ben:
On if this feels like a classic Ravens-Steelers game and the talk of people saying the rivalry has fallen off a little bit:
“I don’t know who started that talk. I don’t think this thing, this rivalry, has lost any of its luster. It sounds crazy, but it’s a fun rivalry, because it is physical, and it always means something. I have a lot of respect for a lot of those guys, and I think the feeling is pretty mutual. Then, you add in Christmas and all these things. This is what everyone wants and expects.”
On why the Ravens have had success against the Steelers lately:
“Whether we haven’t played well enough, they’ve played good, missed plays here and there, communication, it seems like there’s always a little bit of everything that leads them to beat us.”
On if the Steelers are using the Ravens winning the last four games as extra motivation:
“If you need extra motivation for this game, then something is wrong with you.”
On if the Ravens are pretty standard in what they do:
“They do some stuff. They’ll throw some different looks at you, try to confuse you. But they’ll just try to flat-out beat you, too, and that’s what they’re really good at.”
On if someone should be open if the Ravens triple-team Antonio Brown and stop Le’Veon Bell:
“You would think so. You know, we’re used to teams having at least one, sometimes two and maybe a third guy, keeping an eye on A.B. So we need other guys to step up and be big this week, for sure.”
On the Steelers’ running game:
“I think that we’re a better football team than we were when we played them the first time around. They’re probably a better football team, too. That’s just the way it works. So hopefully we’ll stay healthy out there and play our best.”
On the key to his reduced sack total:
“The offensive line.”
On how good Jimmy Smith is:
“Really good, solid. A really solid corner that is a veteran guy who not only reads things, he sees it, is physical, can get his hands on you and can run with you. He’s a combination of size and speed. He’s a very dynamic cornerback.”
On why this match-up brings out the best in both teams:
“AFC North. It always seems to be for something. It seems to be a prime-time game whenever it might be. It just seems like it’s one of those weeks.”
You can watch video from Ben’s interview here.