Receiver Sanders: Steelers will not be bullied by Lions
Massive fines and penalties, an intimidation factor, a reputation for nastiness. Not surprisingly, they are becoming known — wrongly or not — as the NFL's dirtiest defense.
A few years ago, it was the Steelers. Now it's the Lions.
The Steelers (3-6) meet the league's new bullies Sunday, and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders said it's imperative they stand up to a team that wants to be known for not backing down against anyone.
“We're definitely not going to get bullied,” Sanders said Thursday. “That's not going to happen around here. Nobody is going to bully no one around here.
“As far as matching their intensity, we're definitely going to match their intensity. No one is going to walk over us.”
The Lions' play-past-the-whistle reputation is being forged mostly by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who has been fined a James Harrison-like $131,500 this season and about $350,000 for his career.
“You know about Ndamukong Suh. He's paid the NFL offices a lot of money,” Sanders said. “It's evident. Everyone knows who's the dirtiest player in the league right now. He takes pride in that. He takes pride in being one of the dirtiest players because, on defense, you've got to have to have that mentality. But we're not going to get bullied.”
Ben Roethlisberger tried joking about the Lions' defensive line's aggressiveness, saying, “Yeah, you have to be careful. You'll end up dead if you're not careful.”
Suh responded by saying, “I guess I can take that somewhat as a compliment. But no, there's going to be no killing on Sunday.”
No matter the opponent or its reputation, this is an important second half for Sanders, who is in his first season as a starter but the last season of his contract. He is on pace for a 70-catch season, yet has been eclipsed of late by No. 3 receiver Jerricho Cotchery's four touchdown catches in two games.
Still, Sanders has 17 catches in his past three games.
“Of course, you definitely think about it (a contract), but at the end of the day, you don't let it affect your everyday style,” said Sanders, who has 41 catches for 507 yards. “I believe that no matter what happens, I'm going to be fine. … Of course I want to be here (in Pittsburgh), but we'll see what happens.”
The Patriots tried to sign Sanders during the offseason, but the Steelers matched their $2.5 million offer.
Cotchery, in a contract year of his own, said the key for Sanders to remaining productive is remaining patient — even as fellow wide receiver Antonio Brown leads the league in receptions.
“Obviously, like all of the receivers, you want the ball and want to make plays for the team,” Cotchery said. “I always bring up that you've got to enjoy the game and you can't worry about those other things. I was in a situation similar my third year in the league, we tried to renegotiate my contract and didn't get anything done during the season. I just had to focus in on the football, and at the end of the day, it still worked out for me.”