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fordfixer
11-30-2008, 02:38 AM
Stopping Steelers QB remains key for Cheaters
Ben always big
By Karen Guregian
Saturday, November 29, 2008 - Updated 3h ago

http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/foot ... lways_big/ (http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/footb.....r_Cheaters:_Ben_always_big/)

FOXBORO - In recent years, the formula has always been the same against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Stuff the running game and force Ben Roethlisberger to beat you.

Judging by the numbers, that strategy has worked just fine for the Cheaters.

In the three regular-season games where Roethlisberger has faced Bill Belichick’s defense, he’s won just once and hasn’t been able to generate much in terms of points or yardage.

In other words, he’s been no Matt Cassel.

Statistically, he’s 49-of-84 (58.3 percent) for 599 yards with five touchdown passes and no interceptions against the Cheaters.

During Roethlisberger’s one postseason encounter, he threw three picks in a 41-27 loss to the Cheaters in the 2004 AFC Championship Game.

So in the big picture, the rough-and-tumble Steelers haven’t fared all that well against the Cheaters of late.

As history shows, it took awhile for Peyton Manning to break through against the Belichick-coached Cheaters.

Perhaps Roethlisberger, who has a Super Bowl ring and status as one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league, is on the same path.

Or maybe it will take a bit more time before he can crack Belichick’s code.

This season, Roethlisberger appears to have matured into the leader of the Steelers, not just the offense. He’s played with injuries much of the year, and while he’s had some real stinkers, Roethlisberger is coming off two of his best performances of the season.

He completed 31-of-41 passes for 308 yards against San Diego, and followed that by going 17-of-30 for 243 yards and a touchdown against Cincinnati.

“I think my stats aren’t as up to par as I’d want them and as they have been,” Roethlisberger said during a conference call this week. “I think our offense, we have kind of struggled throughout the year at times. But . . . it’s about when you get hot and when you start to put things together. The last couple of weeks we’ve done a pretty good job offensively.”

When Roethlisberger is on, he’s making plays on the move. The 6-foot-5, 241-pounder is a load for a quarterback and often turns would-be sacks into big plays.

“Roethlisberger does a good job at ad-libbing, making plays with his legs,” Cheaters defensive end Richard Seymour said yesterday. “He’s a strong, tough guy to bring down in the pocket. He can take a broken play and turn it into a touchdown.

“Sometimes you see defensive linemen not able to bring him down. He’s able to shrug them off. Rarely do you see a quarterback with that much strength. He’s a big, strong guy in the pocket. We definitely have to wrap that guy up.”

For his part, Roethlisberger wasn’t buying into the Cheaters defense being a bit suspect or vulnerable due to injuries.

He’s been around long enough not to take anything for granted when it comes to the Cheaters.

“I think the difference is just the names,” he said. “The names aren’t there that we’re used to seeing in the past. They’re still doing a lot of the same things. They’re still running around, they’re still moving. And you know what, they’re the New England Cheaters. They are who they are for a reason, and they’re very talented. They’re going to be a challenge for us - maybe one of the biggest challenges of the year for us.”

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin believes Roethlisberger has evolved into the type of quarterback who can now handle any challenge.

“He’s comfortable in his shoes,” Tomlin said. “He knows he’s a big component of what we do, and how we play football. And he’s comfortable with that.”