PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger decided to compliment and "not upset'' mostly vilified and heavily penalized tackle Ndamukong Suh and his teammates on the defensive line going into the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6) game against the Detroit Lions (6-3) Sunday at 1 p.m. at Heinz Field.
Roethlisberger preferred to see how Suh and the Lions aggressive front line play against him before passing judgment, although he acknowledged that there were penalties and fines in the past that have forged the player's reputation.
Steelers wideout Emmanuel Sanders wasn't as diplomatic when responding to a question about the Lions' defense.
"I know they have a really good front,'' Sanders said. "They definitely are physical. Sometimes, they play a little dirty, but we've got to match the intensity. (But) we're definitely not going to get bullied.
"Nobody is going to bully anyone around here, not on our field, but you don't want to put your team in a bad position by getting a personal foul or anything like that. But, as far as matching their intensity, we're definitely going to match that. And nobody is going to walk over us.''
It's ironic that one of the smallest Steelers threw down the gauntlet this week. It wasn't like the other players were backing down. That certainly wasn't the case, but it seemed to be a little out of character for Sanders. And he didn't stop there. He talked some more about Suh.
"You see stuff on tape, and everyone knows about Ndamukong Suh,'' Sanders said. "He's paid the NFL office a lot of money. Everyone knows who's the dirtiest player in the league right now, and I think he takes pride in that.
"He takes pride in being one of the dirtiest players, because on defense you've got to have that mentality. But we're not going to get bullied. They can come in with all the intensity in the world, but we've just got to match it.''
Sanders could be on to something. Maybe more intensity is needed. Ike Taylor got it right as well when he faces Calvin Johnson. Battle him. Push him around. Don't necessarily play dirty, but rough him up a bit. The same thing with quarterback Matthew Stafford. Get them off their game.
That might be the Steelers' best bet. It's difficult to imagine winning a shootout with the Lions. The Steelers offense just hasn't been that efficient against lesser teams. Of course, there's the belief that the Steelers play to their level of competition. That should be at a high level this week.
"You have to get in a shootout every week, as far as outscoring your opponent,'' Sanders said. "But, at the end of the day, can we go into this game and think that a 9-3 game or a 9-6 game will be there? I don't think so, because these guys like to throw the ball 40-50 times a game.
"We've got to put points on the board, and we definitely have to keep up. So, we're going to have to give them our best shot. Ike should be excited to play against Megatron, because he's the best. I know if I was going up against Darrelle Revis, I'd be pumped to play against him.
"It's an opportunity to prove yourself,'' Sanders added. "(And) that's how we should feel this week as a team. Our defense has a chance to play a real good offense, and we're playing a physical defense. That's why we have to match that intensity on both sides of the ball.''
Ryan Clark added his two cents as well.
"This is the NFL, so it's always going to be a tough matchup,'' Clark said. "But that's what we live for. That's why we play this game. You always want to play someone who's good enough to get the best out of you, and we have that with the Detroit Lions this week.
"So, for us, it's fun. It's going to be a challenge for our DBs and the defense as a whole. That same thing can be said about our offense, so it should be a really good game against the Lions. And it's one that we're looking forward to playing and seeing how we stack up to them.''
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