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|11-28-2005, 09:56 PM||#1|
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Member Number: 591
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NY Times article on Ben...
If you want to kill a few minutes waiting for the game...good stuff!
Roethlisberger Does Have a Gaudy Statistic: A Record of 18-1
By CLIFTON BROWN
Published: November 28, 2005
PITTSBURGH, Nov. 25 - A part of Ben Roethlisberger envies Peyton Manning.
Roethlisberger would love to throw the ball 35 times a game, the way Manning often does when leading the high-powered offense of the unbeaten Indianapolis Colts. But the Pittsburgh Steelers do not play fun-and-gun football. So Roethlisberger suppresses his gunslinger instincts, although he often imagines playing in a less conservative system.
Skip to next paragraph Harry How/Getty Images
Two quarterbacks were taken before Ben Roethlisberger in the 2004 N.F.L. draft, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers.
"As a quarterback, you always want to throw the ball," said Roethlisberger, sitting in the locker room Friday, as the Steelers (7-3) looked toward Monday night's game at Indianapolis (10-0). "It bothers you, because I know I can do it, and I wish I could prove to people that I could.
"But winning games takes care of everything else. I understand what this offense is about, what this team's about, and what it takes to win games. As long as we win, I'm O.K. with it, I guess."
Winning has been Roethlisberger's biggest strength since joining the Steelers last year, when he became a rookie sensation and inspired a Pittsburgh restaurant to name a sandwich in his honor. Although he has never attempted more than 30 passes in a regular-season game, Roethlisberger is 18-1 as a starter, and he has completed 60.8 percent of his passes this season, with 11 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
Roethlisberger's return after a three-game absence due to knee surgery improves Pittsburgh's chances of spoiling the Colts' unbeaten season. The Steelers struggled without him in the lineup, losing their last game to Baltimore, 16-13, with Tommy Maddox at quarterback. But with Roethlisberger back, the Steelers plan to stick to basics against the Colts - pound them with a running game that features Willie Parker and Jerome Bettis, play solid defense, and mix in some timely passes by Roethlisberger, who admitted that this game felt special.
"There's a lot of hype, with them 10-0, playing at their place, on 'Monday Night Football,' " said Roethlisberger. "We can't play the game hyped. But at this point, it's the biggest game of the year for us."
It took only a few games last season for Pittsburgh to embrace Roethlisberger. Peppi's Old Tyme Sandwich Shop, a restaurant with four locations around the city, features the Roethlisburger, a sandwich that has sausage, hamburger, fried egg and the customer's choice among lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise.
"We had a sandwich that didn't have a name, so we figured, 'Why not?' " said Lou Bosser, the proprietor of one of the Peppi's stores. "It was like we hit the lottery. It's real popular on game days, and we've had people from places like Texas and Canada come in to order it. Steelers Nation is everywhere."
But Roethlisberger faced his share of criticism after the Steelers' 15-1 regular season did not lead to a Super Bowl appearance. Roethlisberger threw three interceptions when Pittsburgh lost, 41-27, to New England in the American Football Conference championship game, and what had been a fantastic season ended in frustration.
"Disappointment comes with the position, in this town, and in any town," said Mark Whipple, the Steelers' quarterback coach. "When you walk into this building and you see four Super Bowl trophies, that speaks volumes for the what the city is about, and what the Steelers are about.
"But I think he's handled it well, as evidenced by his play this year. He worked hard during the off-season on footwork, fundamentals, reading coverage, understanding the schemes of our offense. We put a lot of things on him in camp, forced him to do some things he wasn't as comfortable with the year before. I think that has helped him gain even more confidence."
Roethlisberger wanted to play through the pain in his right knee, but Steelers Coach Bill Cowher convinced him to have surgery earlier this month. Watching games has been difficult for Roethlisberger. When the Steelers won at Green Bay several weeks ago, Roethlisberger could not travel, so he watched from his home with friends, yelling instructions at the television.
"I was acting like my teammates could hear me," Roethlisberger said.
Roethlisberger has dedicated this season to his grandfather Ken Carl Roethlisberger, who died during the summer at age 83. Grandfather and grandson were close, and the 23-year-old Roethlisberger said it has been difficult adjusting to the void in his life.
"It was very tough to lose him," Roethlisberger said. "He never got to see me play in person as a Steeler, but I guess he has front row seats to all the games now."
While Indianapolis has emerged as the favorite to win the A.F.C., the Steelers hope to plant doubt in the Colts' minds by winning on Monday. Even before his grandfather died, Roethlisberger said that this year was special because it might be the last for Bettis, who is fifth on the N.F.L.'s career rushing list.
"If you don't win the Super Bowl, it's a disappointment, especially when you fall short like we did last year for us," Roethlisberger said. "This is probably Jerome's last year, and we don't want it to end in disappointment."
Roethlisberger impressed his teammates last year by smoothly stepping into the starter's role, becoming an offensive leader while respecting his veteran teammates.
"Ben realized he was still learning, and that he didn't have to do everything," wide receiver Hines Ward said. "He had a great defense, he had a great offensive line, he had running backs, he had receivers. All he had to do was play."
Roethlisberger has played so well that some teams may have regretted not drafting him in 2004. Roethlisberger fell into Pittsburgh's hands at No. 11 after Eli Manning was taken No. 1 over all and Philip Rivers was chosen No. 4. He will always be compared to those two, but he has loftier goals than trying to prove he should have been the first quarterback selected.
"I want to be the best quarterback in general, not just among guys in my draft class," said Roethlisberger, who played college ball for the relatively low-wattage Miami of Ohio program. "I know Manning and Rivers were taken ahead of me. But my goal is be the best. I don't know if I'll ever put up the best stats in the league, so I don't know if I'll ever be an M.V.P.-type guy. But if I can continue to win football games, maybe people will judge me that way."
After saying that, Roethlisberger saw an opportunity to make a throw in the Steelers' rowdy locker room. He balled up his dirty socks, ****ed his arm and threw a strike that hit the unsuspecting wide receiver Antwaan Randle El in the head.
Roethlisberger giggled. Against the Colts, he will take his throwing a little more seriously.
"I'm so glad to be back," Roethlisberger said. "It's going to be exciting."
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