Ben Roethlisberger: 'Always a respect' for Steelers-Ravens rivalry

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger says there is more of a mutual respect in the Pittsburgh Steelers' rivalry with the Baltimore Ravens than the one they have with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Roethlisberger's comments in a conference call with Baltimore reporters came two days after two players were disciplined for illegal hits made during Monday night's game between the Steelers and Bengals.

"In that one [with the Bengals], it feels like almost, just, you're out there to hit people, and we don't feel the same respect from them that Baltimore and we have," Roethlisberger said Wednesday. "I'm not really sure why."

In Pittsburgh's 23-20 win over Cincinnati, Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was suspended for one game for a vicious fourth-quarter block on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who was in a defenseless posture, according to the NFL's ruling. Smith-Schuster then stood over Burfict as he lay motionless.

Bengals safety George Iloka had received a one-game suspension for a hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in the end zone in the fourth quarter, when Brown was deemed a defenseless receiver, but that suspension was overturned Wednesday. Iloka will receive a $36,464.50 fine instead.

After the game, Roethlisberger said it was just "AFC North football."

On Wednesday, he explained there is a difference in playing the Ravens compared to the Bengals.

"The difference between this game and the Cincinnati game is these two teams -- us and Baltimore -- there's always a respect involved in it," Roethlisberger said. "You're going to get hit really hard or you're going to hit somebody really hard, but you're going to help them up and say, 'Man, nice job.'

"At the end of it, you're going to shake hands and give the other guy a hug and say that was a lot of fun and can't wait to do it next year. It's a fun rivalry in the sense that there's a lot of respect and there are two good football teams."

The Steelers (10-2) can clinch their third AFC North title in four seasons if they beat the Ravens (7-5) on Sunday night.