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Sunday's QBs Like Each Other's Game Until The Game Gets Going

Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger are part of a mutual admiration society, until Sunday's 1 p.m. kickoff at Paul Brown Stadium, when they become mortal enemies.

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton assured everyone Wednesday that it's not  Andy Dalton vs. Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday in Cincinnati's home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Dalton, a Roethlisberger admirer, said it's a team battle this weekend, with high stakes. A Bengals win clinches their second AFC North Division title in three years. Just the same, the two signal callers have been tipping their caps to each other this week in the run-up to Sunday's rematch. The Bengals beat the Steelers, 16-10, Nov. 1 at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field.

Roethlisberger was very complimentary of Dalton in the Bengals' weekly opponent conference call. Dalton was asked his thoughts regarding Big Ben, who has won a pair of Super Bowl titles.

“He's been one of the best in this league for a long time," said Dalton, who has not won a playoff game. "And he's always fun to watch. You never know what's going to happen when he's out there. He extends plays, he does so much moving around and all that kind of stuff, and he really gives their team an opportunity to win. It seems like that in every game they play."

Dalton said he's been able to get to know Roethlisberger, and it's added to his appreciation.

"It's been fun to get to know him throughout the years. My first chance was obviously when I played against him my rookie year, and then we were at the Pro Bowl together my rookie year," Dalton said. "So it's always cool to hang out with guys. I watched him play, obviously, before I got into the NFL. To get to the NFL, and to get to hang out and see what a nice guy he was -- yeah, he's a great player.

“There's not a ton of people who are like him and can do what he does. You can have guys that are free, and he's able to make them miss and take shots down the field, and do different things. He's a special player.”

In reality, Dalton said he's more worried about the Pittsburgh defense.

“Their defense is really good. They're flying around, they're making plays and they're playing together as a team," said the quarterback. "We've got a tough task ahead of us. We know what we're going up against. Obviously being a division game, it means more. So every time that we've played Pittsburgh, it's been a tight game, a close one. We're going to get each other's best.”

The Steelers rank tied for 11th in the NFL with 11 interceptions (the Bengals rank fourth with 15). Dalton said limiting mistakes and making sound decisions in the face of pressure will be among his personal goals.

“Balls have been tipped up. I think you saw that in the game this past week: A ball got tipped up and got intercepted," Dalton said of the Steelers' opportunistic "D". "You can't force throws against these guys. You've got to understand the look that they're giving you, and when you can take your chance, and when not to. I think that's a big part of it.”

Dalton said even if the Bengals clinch the division Sunday, their work remains largely undone. But winning the big rivalry game remains the lone focus right now.

“It would be huge (if we clinch). As you look at the season, and you set your goals, one of our first goals is to win the division," Dalton said. "We've got an opportunity to do that now. We've got an opportunity to do that at home. So we've got to come out and play our best game.”

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