Not only will Sunday mark the first time that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has played in Seattle as a professional, it will also mark the first time he’s faced Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, as he didn’t play any defensive snaps in 2011, which was the last time the two teams played each other.
During his Wednesday talk with the media, Roethlisberger made it clear that just because he hasn’t faced Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman before, doesn’t mean he lacks appreciation for how he and their defense plays.
“I have a great appreciation for that whole defense,” said Roethlisberger. “Their defensive ends, their front seven get after it and then their secondary just locks people down. So, I don’t need to play against them to respect them a lot. If you want to be the best, you’ve got to play the best.”
The marquee matchup on Sunday figures to be Sherman against Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. On Tuesday, head coach Mike Tomlin talked quite a bit about Sherman and how he’s not only solid below the neck, but above it as well. Even so, Roethlisberger has no intentions of shying away from Sherman on Sunday.
“I think it’s hard to shy away from a guy that there probably going to put on your best guy, because if they’re going to have Richard follow AB [Antonio Brown] everywhere, then that means I’m not throwing to AB,” said Roethlisberger. “And AB’s one of the best in the business, so I don’t think you can shy away from a guy like that, but you have to be aware of where he is and what he’s doing. I’m not going to throw every single pass at him, but I have a lot of respect for him as a football player. Very smart player, a technician in his craft and so it’s going to be a bigtime test for myself and AB and whoever else he’s covering.”
It will be interesting to see just how many times Sherman lines up against Brown on Sunday and specifically if he follows him around on the field as the Seahawks All-Pro cornerback general lines up quite a bit on the left side of defense. Should Sherman wind up staying mostly on the left side Sunday, Brown figures to be matched up against either Cary Williams or DeShawn Shead on the other side several times during the game. Williams, however, was benched this past Sunday in favor of Shead in the Seahawks win over the San Francisco 49ers, so we might see Brown get a few cracks at Shead because of that.
“I would anticipate Richard to follow AB (Brown),” Roethlisberger told the Seattle media on Wednesday. “If you consider AB [Antonio Brown] the best, which we do, and I think they probably consider him one of the best. We consider Richard to be one of the best in the business. We would expect that matchup. It’s such a challenge, and I think one that Antonio’s excited for.”
As I’ve previously mentioned, none of the Seahawks cornerbacks have registered interceptions so far this season and the hope is that Roethlisberger isn’t the first quarterback to serve them up their first one Sunday during his first trip to Seattle.