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Old 10-05-2006, 07:20 AM   #1
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Default Roethlisberger can't wait to face the Chargers

Roethlisberger can't wait to face the Chargers Sunday night

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Perhaps it's not the same as Chad Johnson's List in Cincinnati, but Ben Roethlisberger keeps a directory of his own. Call it Big Ben's Ten Most Wanted.

They are the 10 National Football League teams that bypassed him in the 2004 draft. Perched at the top are the San Diego Chargers. Roethlisberger and his Steelers teammates go after them Sunday night on the West Coast.

"It'll feel good to get out there," Roethlisberger said yesterday. "It'll be a little added incentive."

Roethlisberger already beat the Chargers in San Diego last October. Adding to the incentive of again playing the first team that bypassed him in the draft is playing against Philip Rivers for the first time. Rivers and Eli Manning were the two quarterbacks drafted before him. Roethlisberger can add Rivers' pelt to the one he acquired when he and the Steelers beat the Giants and Eli Manning in 2004.

Manning was drafted first in the 2004 draft, Rivers fourth. The New York Giants and Chargers quickly followed by swapping the quarterbacks. The Steelers made Roethlisberger the third quarterback drafted in that class, picking him at No. 11.

"It's not him, I have nothing against him," Roethlisberger said of Rivers. "I like playing San Diego because they had a pick -- anybody who was in the top 10, I kind of like to play against, it feels good."

Roethlisberger won his first nine starts against his Ten Most Wanted before he and the Steelers stumbled in Jacksonville in the second game this season, 9-0. He has beaten Cleveland all three times he has started against the Browns, and added victories against the Washington Redskins, Jaguars, Giants, Houston Texans, Detroit Lions and Chargers. He gets a crack at two more on his list later this month when the Steelers play at Atlanta and at Oakland. A victory against each would complete his Top 10.

The 10 players drafted ahead of Big Ben:

1 Eli Manning, QB Chargers (Giants)

2 Robert Gallery, OT Raiders

3 Larry Fitzgerald, WR Cardinals

4 Philip Rivers, QB Giants (Chargers)

5 Sean Taylor, S Redskins

6 Kellen Winslow, TE Browns

7 Roy Williams, WR Lions

8 Deangelo Hall, CB Falcons

9 Reggie Wiliams, WR Jaguars

10 Dunta Roinson, CB Texans


Adding to the intrigue of his hit list is the fact the Steelers would have drafted Rivers if he had been available, even if Roethlisberger had been on the board. There were many reports that the Steelers preferred Rivers.

"Yeah, that was my impression," Rivers said yesterday. "I certainly got the impression if not San Diego, then Pittsburgh. That was all ifs and buts, but certainly that was the impression, but who knows how it's going to unfold?"

Rivers grew frustrated as he sat behind Drew Brees in San Diego his first two seasons. Roethlisberger added to it with his phenomenal 13-0 rookie season followed by a Super Bowl victory in his second. Rivers played in four games with no starts his first two seasons.

He is off to a 2-1 start with the Chargers and putting up Roethlisberger-like production numbers -- he's fifth in the AFC with a 96.9 passer rating, has thrown just one interception, has been sacked once and is second in the NFL in the clutch fourth quarter with a 131.3 passer rating.

"The last two years, they were tough at times," Rivers said. "But I'm thankful for them right now, I really am. I feel I benefited from them, I feel it's helped me out there on the field."

Down near the bottom of the list is Roethlisberger with a 34.3 passer rating, mainly because he has thrown five interceptions, no touchdown passes as he continues to try to get back in form after an appendectomy delayed the start of his third season one game.

"As much as people may not believe this, I think we've been playing pretty well, actually, offensively," Roethlisberger said. "There were a couple mistakes that were made that really hurt you, but, overall, we're just about a hair off on offense. We're just almost clicking and, when we do start to click and those wheels start turning out there, I think we can be pretty good, pretty dangerous. But I don't think we're as far off as people think."

One of his receivers, off to his own slow start, agreed with his quarterback.

"We're close, there's no question," said Hines Ward. "As far as the wide receivers, we have to help him out, we have to bail him out in situations. Yes, the ball may not be perfect, it may be high or low or whatever, that's what they pay us to do, make the catches.

"We're just playing too inconsistent right now. In crucial situations -- third-and-4, third-and-5 -- we have to make plays to help him get into a rhythm and, once he gets into a rhythm, he'll be fine."
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Old 10-05-2006, 02:15 PM   #2
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Default Re: Roethlisberger can't wait to face the Chargers

good read, he should be grateful he went to the 11th spot, he was supposed to go a lot later in the draft.
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