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Old 02-07-2009, 09:02 PM   #1
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Default Ben Roethlisberger finds a way to win -- at everything

http://www.latimes.com/sports/footba...7214846.column
Ben Roethlisberger finds a way to win -- at everything
Ben Roethlisberger

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback can be very competitive off the field too.
Sam Farmer
6:05 PM PST, February 7, 2009

Here's a little story about Ben Roethlisberger, one that hints at the skills required to make the kind of precision passes the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback made in the Super Bowl last Sunday.

It happened a few hours after the divisional playoff victory over San Diego, when Roethlisberger was unwinding at a Pittsburgh pub with a group of family and friends. They were playing the arcade game "2 Minute Drill," the object of which is to throw junior-sized footballs through holes for points over the course of two minutes. There are three holes, with the top being the smallest and most valuable. It takes a pinpoint spiral to squeeze through that one.

On his first try, Roethlisberger set a new record for the machine.

Whump. Whump. Whump. Whump. Pass after pass zipped through the top hole.

On his second try, he broke his own mark. On his third, he scored so many points that the three-digit counter rolled over. Two minutes without a miss.

The whole pub erupted in applause.

"You get kind of competitive when it comes to things like that," Roethlisberger said in a phone interview this week. "I wasn't going to let anybody beat my score. It started with me competing with the guys there. But then it got to the point where, well, let me shoot for the high score. So that was the next competition and I blew it away."

(Roethlisberger, by the way, won't be in the Pro Bowl today, not even as an alternate. It's more evidence voting for that all-star game is a joke, but more on that in a moment.)

Among the things separating Roethlisberger from other quarterbacks are his incredibly skilled hands. Those allow him to zip passes on target, whether he's throwing off his front foot, back foot, twisted the wrong way, or with would-be tacklers dangling off him like Christmas ornaments.

"As a quarterback, especially in the NFL, you can't just drop back every time and throw a regular pass perfect," he said. "There's always going to have to be a different angle you're throwing the ball, someone's rushing you, you've got to drop your arm a little bit and throw through lanes, whatever it might be."

The steel-city grip of his right hand also allows him to execute more complete and convincing pump fakes, the kind that can fool an entire secondary into shifting out of position, as he did in the winning drive against Arizona. Whereas other NFL quarterbacks might flinch a fake, Roethlisberger gets three-quarters of the way through his throwing motion before resetting, the ball crazy-glued in place.

"Any time that you get a little pump fake, the more realistic it is, the more the defenders are going to bite on it. It happened in the Super Bowl on the one to Santonio [Holmes]," he said, referring to the 40-yard catch and carry that set up the winning touchdown. "I pumped on it and everyone came flying up and he was open. I bet it happens at least once a game where you can affect multiple defensive players by doing that."

The biggest knocks on Big Ben -- that he holds onto the ball too long and sometimes takes unnecessary hits -- are also some of his biggest strengths. He's a tough quarterback in a tough city.

"People have their knocks, that's fine," he said. "If I don't hold onto the ball so long, some of those touchdowns don't happen either. Pittsburgh likes me because they say I'm tough, I'm nitty-gritty. I may not be the prettiest quarterback back there but you know what, you get it done."

And it comes back to the hands and the incredible athleticism. Roethlisberger's agents, cousins Ryan and Bruce Tollner, have seen it for years. They've both spent their lives around top athletes -- Ryan's a former Cal quarterback; Bruce's dad, Ted, was USC's football coach -- but they've seen some things from Ben that have left them rubbing their eyes.

They've seen him play as a fill-in in a competitive softball game and, in five at-bats, effortlessly pump five home runs over the fence -- the only five of the game.

They've seen him shoot around with the Phoenix Suns, at the invitation of his buddy Steve Nash, and even beat ex-Suns forward Shawn Marion in a three-point contest.

And they've seen Roethlisberger's epic ping-pong battles with his dad, that ball just a little white blur.

"Anyone that spends any time around Ben ultimately will get frustrated because they'll lose in anything they compete with him in," Ryan Tollner said. "Any little game he comes up with -- which is part of his personality, you'll play games all day long -- he'll win. It's quite humbling."

Martin Nance, a receiver on the Steelers' practice squad and one of Roethlisberger's favorite targets at Miami of Ohio, knows this. He remembers a college game at Colorado State when Roethlisberger scrambled for an eternity -- 15 seconds, later verified by the game footage -- before throwing him a 30-yard strike.

"He scrambled for so long, the home crowd started to boo their own defense," Nance said. "I can remember losing my defender three or four times. Eventually, I found an open spot and stood there and waited for him to work his magic."

Last Sunday, a record TV audience watched Roethlisberger work his magic. With his performance in the playoffs culminating with his masterful two-minute drive in the Super Bowl, he went from a very good quarterback to an elite one. His name deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Peyton Manning's and Tom Brady's.

Manning is the AFC's starting quarterback in the Pro Bowl. The reserves are Jay Cutler and Kerry Collins, who is replacing the injured Brett Favre. (Notably absent are both Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers.) Fans, players and coaches vote for the Pro Bowl, and the teams are determined before the regular season ends.

"It's funny because I remember when it got announced," Roethlisberger said of the Pro Bowl roster. "People were coming up to me saying, `Man, I can't believe you didn't make it.' I'd say, `You know what? It's all right. I'll just go out and get a Super Bowl now. I'd rather have a Super Bowl than a Pro Bowl any day.' I'm just glad that it worked out.

"Pro Bowl's a credential thing, that's all."

Somehow, you get the feeling he's gotten over the disappointment.

Funny how a second Super Bowl ring can do that.

sam.farmer@latimes.com
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Old 02-07-2009, 09:33 PM   #2
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Default Re: Ben Roethlisberger finds a way to win -- at everything

yay ben!! thats why i love him and i'll defend him until the day he retires, and then afterwards if anyone ever tries to talk smack haha
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Old 02-07-2009, 09:41 PM   #3
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Default Re: Ben Roethlisberger finds a way to win -- at everything

another very good aricle mesa...
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Old 02-07-2009, 09:42 PM   #4
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Default Re: Ben Roethlisberger finds a way to win -- at everything

He's going to win alot more SB's...its just the way he rolls !
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Old 02-07-2009, 09:48 PM   #5
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Default Re: Ben Roethlisberger finds a way to win -- at everything

Lucky for us, Ben just doesn't like to lose.
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"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 02-07-2009, 10:01 PM   #6
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Default Re: Ben Roethlisberger finds a way to win -- at everything

anyone got a youtube link or something of the espn video of ben in the locker room after the game???????.....

He asks someone to hold his camera and then takes the Trophy and then proceeds to let out one of the funniest Woooohooo's....Ive ever heard
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Old 02-08-2009, 02:17 PM   #7
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Default Re: Ben Roethlisberger finds a way to win -- at everything

This is a terrific article, and really gets to the heart of why we love him!
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Old 02-09-2009, 08:47 AM   #8
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Default Re: Ben Roethlisberger finds a way to win -- at everything

Great read on Ben and thanks for posting Mesa. You have to love the competitiveness in Ben. That's one of the qualities that make Ben so great when we need a score.
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Old 02-14-2009, 12:54 AM   #9
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Default Re: Ben Roethlisberger finds a way to win -- at everything

First, Roethlisberger is the f'in man...second, he is the highest caliber of NFL quarterback, he is a franchise player, and the future of the pittsburgh steelers...amen...
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Old 02-14-2009, 05:41 AM   #10
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Default Re: Ben Roethlisberger finds a way to win -- at everything

I was just sitting here thinking of Ben throwing at that machine and hitting that top hole with a football.I guess that is what it takes to be an nfl quarterback pin point accuracy.
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