Ravens' Suggs talks good game, but he plays better one
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Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said we should feel free to use his sound bite as we see fit.
I took him up on the offer.
I typed it up and read it to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
"All hats off to the Pittsburgh Steelers. We respect them to death. But today was our day. Big Ben, you know he's a great quarterback. God can have his soul, but his ass belongs to me."
That was Suggs after he sacked Roethlisberger three times and forced two fumbles in the Ravens' 35-7 win Sept. 11 in Baltimore. Roethlisberger had a terrible day, throwing three interceptions and losing two fumbles -- three if you count a botched handoff to running back Rashard Mendenhall -- as part of a seven-turnover afternoon.
"I've heard that quote," Roethlisberger said the other day. "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?
Did you catch the jab Roethlisberger took at Suggs there?
"After finally beating me?"
I give Roethlisberger credit.
I would have been tempted to say, "You might own my you-know-what, but I own your team."
"I could go there, but I choose not to," Roethlisberger said, grinning, fully aware he had beaten the Ravens in seven consecutive starts before that September fanny-kicking.
No, Big Ben wouldn't bite even though Suggs continued to chirp this week, his observations about the Steelers-Ravens rematch Sunday night at Heinz Field more humorous than malicious. The truth? Roethlisberger and the Steelers couldn't care less about what Suggs says.
They do care about what he does on the field, though.
"He's an animal," Roethlisberger said. "He has a combination of incredible speed and incredible strength. If you look at our guys -- LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison -- he's bigger than they are. He's taller but has the same skills.
"He reminds me of Julius Peppers and Mario Williams as a pass-rusher. A guy like that is going to make plays and get his sacks."
Suggs has had plenty against the Steelers. No one in the NFL has gotten to know Roethlisberger up close and personal the way he has. In his past 12 games against the Steelers going back to 2006, he has 16 sacks, including three against Roethlisberger in the teams' AFC playoff game last season.
Suggs suggested that has made him the most despised NFL figure in Pittsburgh. I'm still thinking Tom Brady, Bill Belichick or, of course, Roger Goodell. But there's no arguing that he has been the most dominant player against the Steelers in the past half dozen seasons.
The job Sunday night of trying to keep Suggs from again mauling Roethlisberger will fall mostly to left tackle Max Starks.
At times, Starks will get help from one of the tight ends or running backs. At other times, Suggs will line up in the middle or on the other side.
But Starks knows he's going to have to play a big part if the Steelers are going to win.
"We've had some classic battles," he said. "I think I can say he hasn't had a multi-sack day against me."
Jonathan Scott was at left tackle the past three games when Suggs had three, three and 11/2 sacks. Starks missed the game in Baltimore last season and the playoff game with a neck injury that required surgery. He also missed the first game this season because he was out of football. The Steelers released him before training camp because of salary-cap concerns and issues with his weight.
"I watched that [September] game with some buddies in a sports bar in Scottsdale, Ariz.," Starks said.
"It turned out it was a Chicago Bears bar. I didn't get to pay close attention to the Steelers game."
Unfortunately, Starks got to relive the nightmare with his teammates during film study this week.
"I can relate, I know how bad the guys felt," Starks said. "We're a very prideful group. We don't have stats. Our success is predicated on how the quarterback throws the ball and the running backs run and how we protect the football and keep the quarterback clean. That was not a good day."
Roethlisberger and the Steelers figure Sunday night will be a lot better. They badly need the win.
If they lose to the Ravens a second time, they will have a hard time winning the AFC North Division.
I'm here this morning to predict with great confidence the Steelers won't turn the ball over seven times again. I can't predict with the same certainty, though, that Suggs won't get three sacks again.
That's no knock on Starks, who has solidified the Steelers offensive line. The team is 4-0 since he came back.
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.
First Published November 4, 2011 12:00 am