PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – Coming off the team’s huge 33-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in a game that featured plenty of scuffles, trash talk and big hits, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger joined “The Cook and Poni Show” on Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan for the “#1 Cochran Ben Roethlisberger Show.”
He talked about just how much fun it was getting the win.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Roethlisberger said. “Because it’s an AFC North opponent, going back to Ohio…whatever the reason, it was a lot of fun.”
Roethlisberger also discussed what he saw happen during a pregame brawl, when Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict crossed onto their side of the field.
“I saw Burfict. I didn’t even know it was him, all the way on our side where we were stretching and I was like, ‘What in the world is going on?’ Sometimes during those times you talk to maybe a friend that you know on the other team…then I realized it got a little more serious and then my biggest concern from there, I wasn’t nearly close to the middle of it or anything like that, my biggest concern was just making sure my linemen, you know, guys that weren’t already there, don’t come running into the middle of it and try to start something.”
That chippy mentality usually ends once the game starts according to Ben, but that wasn’t the case this past Sunday.
“Usually when that happens…it usually dies out,” Roethlisberger said. “This was as chippy as, quote unquote, kind of dirty, extracurricular stuff throughout the game that I’ve ever been a part of. There was a lot of stuff going on under piles, a lot of extra pushing, a lot of extra shoving. It was kind of unusual because usually you get out there and there’s still a level of respect, even if you despise the other team and you want to beat them so bad, there’s still a level of respect and level of professionalism you don’t really want other people to get hurt. It was definitely as physical, extracurricular stuff as I’ve been a part of.”
Part of that aspect of the game reared its ugly head when Burfict hit Roethlisberger low on a play. After watching the film, Roethlisberger thinks he was targeting his legs.
“He said, ‘I got pushed into you, my bad.’ and the official just kind of nodded like, ‘Yeah, ok.’ So, I just went about my day, didn’t think anything of it…I turned my phone on afterwards and one of the texts I got from a former player and a friend of mine says, ‘How is this not a fine or a penalty by Burfict?’ And he showed me the clip of it. And since then, I have seen the clip, and I don’t buy that he was pushed. You know, I think that he definitely was diving in low and going for my legs,” Roethlisberger said.
After discussing that hit, Roethlisberger was asked how you don’t lose respect for a guy who plays the game like that.
“It’s tough. There’s got to be a level of professionalism when you play guys…It trickles into the fans too. At one point, when I think Will Allen and I think Steve McLendon kind of ran into each other, they were on the ground and the Bengals fans were cheering and I just remember looking around like, ‘That’s sad.’ You know, because that’s not what it’s about. I understand you want to win a football game, but you never want guys to get hurt. We’re out here for the entertainment and to play a game, not to try and injure each other,” he said.
During the broadcast of Sunday’s game, it was mentioned that the officials needed to keep the game in order as the physical play picked up. Roethlisberger talked about the role they played in things getting a bit out of hand.
“At some point, you have to do something. Whether it’s a flag or an ejection, whatever it is, you’re the only one that can do something because players can’t do anything. It’s called retaliation and then you get a penalty or something. So, I do feel that the officials have to kind of put their foot down at some point and stop that,” he said.
Knowing there was a chance things were going to get out of hand, Ben said he addressed the team before the game and told them why teams stoop to such low levels.
“I made the point as I talked to the team and said, ‘You know guys, from every level of sports that I’ve ever been a part of, if the other team tried to start a fight, it was usually because they were either scared or they didn’t think they could hang with you.’ And so, throughout that game as they were trying to pick fights and do extracurricular stuff, it kind of let us all know that, you know what, we just got to play our game, don’t get caught up in the extra stuff, don’t get yourself in trouble.”
When asked if he thought the Bengals were more interested in either getting payback or starting a fight, Ben wouldn’t necessarily agree with that, but made his point very clear.
“I’m not going to say that, but I won’t disagree with you,” he said.
You can hear the interview in its entirety here.
The #1 Cochran Ben Roethlisberger Show is heard exclusively every Tuesday at 11 am during the Steelers season on The Cook and Poni Show on Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan.