PITTSBURGH -- Despite being sacked more in the past five years than any other NFL quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is not easily intimidated. Still, he has a healthy respect for Detroit Lions defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.
"You've got to be careful," Roethlisberger said in advance of Sunday's game in Pittsburgh. "You'll end up dead if you're not careful. This is a great D-line and defense. I tell myself all the time to be alert for those things, but then when the bullets are flying, who knows what's going to happen."
Roethlisberger has been sacked 35 times this season, second only to Miami's Ryan Tannehill.
Suh and Fairley combined for two sacks and eight hurries against the Chicago Bears last week. Not only is a big chunk of the Steelers' offensive line listed on the injury report, the Lions know Roethlisberger likes to hold the ball and let deep routes develop. They also know he's nearly as big and strong as they are.
"I think we're going to definitely have some opportunities," Suh said. "We want to obviously capitalize on them. There are quarterbacks that, not necessarily, want to get rid of the ball, so they don't have to take the lost yardage plays and they're not afraid of that and they understand that.
"That's kind of his pedigree and they have understood it and they lived and died with that -- and it's won championships for them, so why change it?"
The Lions have put plenty of heat on quarterbacks this season, but they only have 15 sacks.
"When you make a tackle or you get a sack it is like you hit a home run in baseball or make a three pointer in basketball," defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham said. "To me, you disrupt the quarterback's rhythm. We are not getting the guys on the ground right now. I looked at a lot of tape this week and we are inches away ... So many people see the home run. What they don't see is the disruption of the quarterback."
They certainly disrupted the Bears' Jay Cutler, who was hit 11 times and suffered a high ankle sprain. Roethlisberger knows he's going to get hit; but he doesn't expect to be disrupted.
"It's not in my DNA, my mindset to quit on a play," he said. "If something's not there, I've seen quarterbacks throw it away, go down, (and) sometimes that's a smart thing. For me, there's also some big plays to be had, and the competitor in me just can't give up all the time."