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Old 11-02-2006, 07:25 AM   #1
lamberts-lost-tooth
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Default Big Ben shakes off poor showing

By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, November 2, 2006


He won't ditch the gunslinger mentality that may be a contributing factor to the 11 interceptions he has thrown. Nor has his confidence wavered, Ben Roethlisberger said Wednesday, despite having a season that would make a root canal seem enjoyable by comparison.
And maybe, just maybe, the self-assuredness that allowed him to win 27 of his first 31 NFL starts and a Super Bowl at the tender age of 23 is also why Roethlisberger said he would have accepted a benching during a 20-13 loss last Sunday to the Oakland Raiders.

The Raiders intercepted Roethlisberger four times and returned two of them for touchdowns. Steelers coach Bill Cowher said he didn't consider pulling Roethlisberger for Charlie Batch, if only temporarily, although Roethlisberger indicated he would have been OK with such a move.

"I want what's best for this team, and if that's Charlie Batch being in there, then that's Charlie Batch being in there," said Roethlisberger, who will try to lead the Steelers past the visiting Denver Broncos on Sunday. "I'm not going to be one that's going to cry or complain about 'Why did I get pulled?' or something like that. My job is to go out and play good football so there isn't a decision to be made."

Roethlisberger has played good football at times this season but hasn't done it nearly enough to satisfy members of the Steeler Nation.

Or himself, for that matter.

Roethlisberger had never thrown four interceptions in a game as a professional before the game in Oakland. His struggles led to the inevitable questions of whether Cowher should have started him a week after he sustained his second concussion since June.

"If he passed all of the (medical) tests," ESPN analyst Merril Hoge said, "what is the excuse for sitting him?"

However, "Monday Night Football" analyst and former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Theismann questions whether Roethlisberger should be playing.

"Ben has not been right," Theismann said earlier this week on ESPN's "Mike & Mike in the Morning." "I go all the way back to the Philadelphia-Pittsburgh preseason game when I saw him play. He didn't look right then. He hasn't looked comfortable, and part of it is because he's been hurt and in and out so much. I admire Bill Cowher for staying with the young man, but Ben almost needs to step away, get himself completely healthy again and basically restart the season."

Hoge said he did notice while watching film of the Raiders game that Roethlisberger seemed a little hesitant about getting hit -- something the former Steelers running back didn't see earlier in the season.

That, Hoge added, is natural because Roethlisberger's latest concussion, unlike the one he got from a motorcycle accident, came on the football field.

"That may take a couple of weeks to get out of his head," said Hoge, whose career ended prematurely because of concussions.

Roethlisberger insisted that his poor showing in Oakland -- and ones that preceded it -- has not gotten into his head. He admitted that he sometimes takes risks in the passing game but is "not going to change how I play" for a simple reason: it worked well his first two seasons.

"He's a good quarterback, and he will learn," Cowher said of the mistakes Roethlisberger has made this season. "Those things will make him a stronger player and a stronger person through the course of time."

Time is something Roethlisberger and the Steelers don't have.

The team is 2-5 and essentially in a must-win situation the rest of the season.

"We feel like we're a good team with a bad record," Roethlisberger said. "We feel that we still have time to turn it around and play good football."

And, Roethlisberger knows, it all starts with him.
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