Ben is ready for physical football

Ben Roethlisberger has played in his share of Steelers-Ravens game.

He knows it's one of the prime rivalries in the NFL, an AFC North battle that is always physical, always hard-fought, and always has a huge impact in the AFC North standings.

Despite the physical nature, which included Roethlisberger having his nose broken in 2010, he did say that the game is never a dirty one, and that is what he loves about it.

"It's tough. It's a physical one," said Roethlisberger of the rivalry. "It can be nasty at times. I have always felt, as many times as my nose has been broken, I have had injuries, it's been a close game. It's always been football in its truest form. It's never been dirty. It's never been nasty. It's just been hard-nosed football. This is one you always want your bye week to be after."

On Tuesday, Coach Mike Tomlin said the Steelers are involved in the 'game of the week' for the third consecutive week after taking on the Browns, who were 4-1 at the time, and then the Titans, who were 5-0 before losing to the Steelers. This week it's the AFC North's top two teams with the Steelers, 6-0, and the Ravens, 5-1.

"I think it's what football fans want, what the NFL wants," said Roethlisberger. "I didn't get to play in it last year. I missed this. As much as this game hurts physically at the end of the day, you miss this rivalry because this is fun. It's football in its purest form. It should be a good matchup. We will have our hands full."

That they will. Baltimore traditionally has a strong defense and this year is no different. They bring the heat from every direction, and Roethlisberger knows the entire offense will have to be on their toes.

"This is a defense that brings guys from everywhere," said Roethlisberger. "It's going to be one of those games where we're going to have to be able to keep everybody in at times. Just because you are keeping everybody in, it still doesn't mean you have all day to throw it. The ball has to get out of your hand in a timely manner. It's not an easy thing to do. Sometimes you have to get lucky. You have to have the right protection called, even after a blitz. Sometimes you can pick it up and get the ball out of your hands and it's one-on-one on the outside with no help. We like those matchups too because we've got some slippery guys at receiver that can make guys miss. Every once in a while, you take that shot over the top knowing that they're might not be a safety back there. There are some things you can exploit. The key is always to protect long enough to do that.

"They just (have) really good football players. Ball hawks. Guys who know how to play, can stop it. There are just a lot of challenges facing us this week in the pass game. Our guys are going to have to all be involved. We are going to have to try the best matchup and see how it goes from there. I am going to have to be smart, make good decisions, and our guys are going to have to run good routes in order to have a chance."

Keeping the Ravens offense and quarterback Lamar Jackson off the field is going to be a key, and something that will fall on the hands of the offense to possess the ball like they did against the Titans, when they held a 36:37-23:23 edge in the 27-24 victory.  

"When you have an offense as good as Baltimore, a player as dynamic as him, a lot of guys on offense, you have to try and keep them on the sideline," said Roethlisberger. "We were able to do that early in the game last week so we'll have to do everything we can. This is a good football team. One of the best in the league."

And to win this week, Roethlisberger knows the Steelers are going to have to play a complete game, something he feels hasn't happened yet despite the record.

"I think we have a long way to go," said Roethlisberger. "We are still trying to improve every week. It starts with me. I have to get better. I will keep trying to do that.

"It's not going to be easy this week because we are facing one of the best defenses in the game."

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