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02-01-2009, 02:33 AM
Steelers’ Roethlisberger a proven winner
By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star

http://www.kansascity.com/sports/story/1011621.html

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 7-2 in the postseason and 51-20 as a regular-season starter in his five-year career.


TAMPA, Fla. | They measure quarterbacks differently in Pittsburgh. It’s not about arm strength or dating supermodels or appearing in television commercials.

It’s about toughness. And it’s about winning.

That’s Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The guy has absorbed 139 sacks in the last three years alone. He was carted off the field after a concussion during a meaningless regular-season finale. He will play in today’s Super Bowl against Arizona nursing sore ribs after he was speared in the kidney during the AFC championship game.

But that’s nothing compared to 2006 when coming off a Super Bowl championship in his second NFL season. Roethlisberger suffered facial injuries in a serious offseason motorcycle accident and underwent an appendectomy shortly before the regular season started. And still he started 15 games.

They may talk about Steel Curtain defenses in Pittsburgh, but it’s Roethlisberger who has the tough exterior.

“Early on in the season Ben took a lot of hits,” said Steelers linebacker James Farrior. “He took a pretty tough beating. That’s why I feel like he’s the heartbeat of the team as far as the fact he’s a tough guy. That’s what the Pittsburgh Steelers are all about … being tough.”

Roethlisberger dismisses the talk of playing through injuries or having a high pain threshold. When asked during Super Bowl week about a recent study documenting long-term effects of concussions suffered by NFL players, Roethlisberger did not appear concerned.

“I don’t go out there and ever worry about getting hurt or being hurt in the past,” he said matter-of-factly. “I’m playing this game and living this life to the fullest.

“I’ve had that question asked a couple of times because of what I’ve been through, so I don’t go out there and worry about it. When the Lord decides to take me, he’s going to take me.”

Injuries to Roethlisberger are secondary to winning, something he’s done in Pittsburgh since taking over for an injured Tommy Maddox early in the 2004 season, winning his first 13 starts and helping the Steelers to a 15-1 record.

The next year, the Steelers became the first sixth seed ever to win the Super Bowl, so now Roethlisberger is on the verge of becoming the 10th quarterback in NFL history to win two Super Bowls.

That would put him in the same paragraph with John Elway, whose No. 7 Roethlisberger adopted as a kid, and halfway toward Pittsburgh legend and noted tough guy Terry Bradshaw, who played through assorted injuries en route to winning four Super Bowls.

“I don’t have a place in history yet,” said Roethlisberger, who is 7-2 in the postseason and 51-20 as a regular-season starter in his five-year career. “It’s an honor to be at this game … to win it once is unbelievable. To come back a second time, and if we are lucky enough to win a second time, it would be another dream come true.”

• • •

If Roethlisberger expects to deliver a record sixth Super Bowl championship to the Steelers, he likely will have to play a lot better today than he did in the Steelers’ 21-10 Super Bowl win over Seattle three years ago.

In that game, he lunged 1 yard for a touchdown but completed just nine of 21 passes for 123 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions for a 22.9 passer rating, the worst ever by a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Pittsburgh’s only touchdown pass in the game was thrown by a wide receiver. About the only worse passing performance in Super Bowl history was Miami kicker Garo Yepremian’s ill-fated pass that was returned for a touchdown.

To reach Randy Covitz, NFL reporter for The Star, call 816-234-4796 or send e-mail to rcovitz@kcstar.com