Myles Garrett has never missed an opportunity to convey his feelings about his rivalry-fueled relationship with Ben Roethlisberger.
Garrett spoke about sacking Roethlisberger on the day he was drafted first overall to the Browns in 2017 — "Big Ben is a Super Bowl winner, and I heard he's hard to take down, so I'm coming for him first." Roethlisberger's name was one of 33 other quarterbacks stitched on the back of Garrett's Grim Reaper costume on Halloween this season, and Garrett has always included playful messages of excitement — and aggression — of facing Roethlisberger in interviews before games against Pittsburgh.
The respect between Garrett, a three-time Pro Bowl DE, and Roethlisberger, an 18-year veteran and six-time Pro Bowl QB, has always been high, but the two could be facing each other for the last time Monday night at Heinz Field.
Roethlisberger said Thursday that "all signs" point to the matchup being his last regular season game in Pittsburgh, and Garrett is looking forward to having one possible last go at the 18-year veteran.
"He's one of the greats," Garrett said. "It's been fun going against him over the years. It's been back and forth, me trying to get after him … but always having good interactions and good gamesmanship when we're out there.
"I'll miss his presence in the game."
Check out exclusive photos from the practice fields at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus of the Browns preparing for their Week 17 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers
The battles between Garrett and Roethlisberger have always been hard-fought — Roethlisberger is 3-1-1 in games where both players were active. Garrett has sacked Roethlisberger five times and recorded two forced fumbles and one strip sack, and Roethlisberger's lone loss in that stretch came last season in the playoffs, when the Browns won the Wild Card contest and ended the Steelers' season.
Their possible final meeting Monday in Pittsburgh was already a safe bet to be one of the most memorable matchups before Roethlisberger's message.
Both teams need to win their final two games and receive a bit more help around the league to keep their playoff hopes alive and remain in contention to win the AFC North. The loser of Monday's game likely will have no possible path to the playoffs.
"Our guys are just ready to control what they can control," Garrett said. "We know we need some help to get where we want to go, but it starts first by winning. We have to go into a hostile environment and play the best we can. We've got to knock them out of the playoffs."
Another sack or two from Garrett could go a long way toward achieving that, and he's hoping to deliver it despite working through a groin injury suffered in Week 15. Garrett played through the pain last week in Green Bay and has used the extended week between games to rest and prepare for Monday. He was a limited participant in practice Thursday and Friday but expects to play.
"I wanted to get some work in with teammates and get the feel again, coming off the ball and playing the run," Garrett said. "It's on us and it's on me to make some plays that will put us in the win column. We have to win."
A win would be even more special for Garrett now that he knows it could be his final meeting with a familiar, talented enemy. The spotlight will be on Roethlisberger, but Garrett sees an opportunity to steal it — with sacks and a victory.
"I like the challenge of going against a guy of his caliber and his prestige," Garrett said. "We'll try to keep it cordial and send him off with a bang."