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Ben on Ravens, JuJu's suspension and Ryan


In sports it's something that isn't given freely, but rather earned over time through hard work, a competitive spirit, and a team just being good.

When Ben Roethlisberger talks about the Baltimore Ravens, respect is one of the first words that comes to mind.

"When you play Baltimore you are going to get your head knocked off. They are going to try and knock your head off, you are going to try and knock their head off, but you are going to help them up and respect and say great job, let's go at it again," said Roethlisberger. "It's fun playing that kind of football game in that there is a lot of respect between the two teams.

"I feel like it's always been there from Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, (Haloti) Ngata, (Terrell) Suggs. It's like two friends going at it in the playground. You battle each other out and at the end of the day you shake hands and say I'm looking forward to next year. There has always been that respect there I think."

For the second straight year the Steelers can clinch the AFC North with a win over the Ravens. Last year they did at Heinz Field on Christmas day. With a win Sunday night, it could happen again. But it's going to be far from easy.

The Ravens lead the NFL in turnover ratio with a plus 14, a defense that is definitely among the most opportunistic out there.

"They are a very good defense," said Roethlisberger. "I am not sure what their rank is, but it is probably near the top. They are an opportunistic defense. They score, I think seven touchdowns with the offense on the sideline. That is a lot of points. They get after it. They have some really good football players. It's a really big challenge for us."

Roethlisberger said he was surprised when he heard JuJu Smith-Schuster was suspended for one game for his hit on Vontaze Burfict, a play he thought he should have been fined for, but not suspended.

"I didn't think it was warranted," said Roethlisberger. "I thought maybe a fine, a pretty steep fine, something like that.

"I thought the play that happened did happen in the context of a football play. It wasn't away from the ball. It wasn't a hit on a kicker or a defenseless player. It was a guy getting ready to make a tackle, a much bigger football player. Obviously we don't like the taunting, standing over him. I don't like to compare suspensions, but you look at what Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) did and what JuJu did and they got the same suspension. I don't know that that's necessarily fair, but that is above all of our pay grades."

One of the main things on Roethlisberger's mind this week is the health of teammate Ryan Shazier, who suffered a spine injury against the Bengals. Roethlisberger spoke to him earlier in the week, and said that the team is doing exactly what Shazier wants, preparing for Sunday night's game.

"It's a brother. It's a teammate. You never like to see injuries happen in football," said Roethlisberger. "It's a scary incident and we continue to pray for him and his family.

"We send our thoughts and prayers to Ryan and his family, but we have a game to prepare for. We know that's what Ryan wants. Talking to Ryan, that's what he wants. We are going to go out and prepare for the Baltimore Ravens like Ryan would want us to do, and is asking us to do."

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