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Old 05-04-2009, 04:09 AM   #1
Galax Steeler
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Default Roethlisberger's super career has yet to shift into overdrive

Roethlisberger idolized Elway as kid, but at 27 and two rings later, the Steelers' QB is ahead of the Broncos' Hall of Famer before he has reached his prime

Move over John Elway, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has his own Drive, soon will own his second Super Bowl ring and he did not have to wait until the end of his career to get it.

Entering just his sixth NFL season, Roethlisberger is way ahead of the Hall of Fame quarterback he idolized as a kid and took his jersey number as a pro. At 27, he's not even in his prime yet, or so his coach believes.

"I believe that he can get better," coach Mike Tomlin said after canceling the fifth and final minicamp practice of the weekend yesterday. "He's still a young guy. He's got a lot of hardware that some young guys don't have, but those are the standards that he sets for himself.

"Like everybody else, Ben is going to be here searching for the ceiling, in terms of what he's capable of, in terms of what we're capable of. He's trying to do it better and smarter and cleaner. That's what we're all trying to do."

Roethlisberger said he has not watched one replay of the Steelers' Super Bowl XLIII victory, won, 27-23, when he led his offense 88 yards that ended with his 6-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds left. Roethlisberger accounted for all 88 yards on that drive, 80 on passes, 4 on a run.

"I haven't watched it," Roethlisberger said, "because I know what happened."

He also knows what happened the previous time he picked up his Super Bowl ring. Days later, he wound up in a hospital after a motorcycle accident. It was the beginning of a string of misfortunes that included an appendectomy on the eve of the season opener, a concussion and an 8-8 season.

It was the worst season of his relatively short pro life.

"Oh, yeah, for sure," Roethlisberger said. "Physically, mentally, emotionally, yeah, absolutely."

Any lessons learned?

"I'm going to try to avoid offseason injuries. That's what it was for me. Offensively, we had a bull's-eye on our chest as a team, you always do as a Super Bowl team. We'll be all right."

Roethlisberger said it has been mostly a typical offseason for him, except that he has not worked out as often. He has limited his throwing to minicamp and the rest of the spring workouts with his teammates.

"I feel great actually. I took some time. I don't think anybody's worked out until now so it's been good relaxing. I haven't thrown. This is the only time when I throw, is when I come here because there's no reason to go above and beyond and stretch out the arm because we know during the season there will be a lot of throwing, so I take it easy."

His second Super Bowl victory in four years has brought him a few more endorsements, but not many.

"I've been busy, been a lot of requests on my time but it's kind of fun because you know what you just accomplished."

That 88-yard drive rates among the best clutch performances in Super Bowl history. Drives like that can do plenty for a quarterback.

"There are examples that you can point to of drives, of plays being a springboard to something," Tomlin noted yesterday, "but usually the roots of success happen before those signature plays. And that's the case. I think those are the things that allow those types of drives or plays to transpire. People can point to those when you look back at somebody's career or development, but usually those are born when no one's looking -- in the weight room, on the practice field, in a training facility."

And in previous games. Roethlisberger directed drives either in the fourth quarter or overtime to tie or win games five previous times last season. He has done it 19 times in his five seasons.

"He's the man," said his friend, defensive end Brett Keisel. "To be able to have the poise that he showed on that last drive and basically all year. We were down several times throughout the year in the fourth quarter where he had to make a drive to win the game. It's impressive.

"He's just a winner, he knows what it takes to win, he gets his guys focused and it's just been great."

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