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fordfixer
10-18-2010, 01:17 AM
Steelers' offense is whole again as Ben returns
By Scott Brown, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, October 18, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 04799.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_704799.html)

The timing appeared to be peculiar if only because Mike Tomlin showed perhaps his most visible signs of news-cycle fatigue after the curtain had finally dropped on the Ben Roethlisberger saga.

The fourth-year coach offered less than expansive answers Sunday after the Steelers continued their mastery of the Browns at Heinz Field. And if he seemed a little on edge at his postgame news conference, it quickly became apparent why.

"It was going to happen guys," Tomlin said of Roethlisberger making his season debut yesterday in front of an announced crowd of 65,168. "It was going to be a story in some form or fashion. It's not our story. Our story is the story of the 2010 Steelers and our quest to win football games."

Roethlisberger is the most vital link between the two, and his 2010 season is off to a good if belated start.

Roethlisberger threw for 257 yards and three touchdowns as the Steelers hold off pesky Browns in front of fans that mostly cheered him. The offense, meanwhile, gave a glimpse as to what kind of unit it can be by scoring three touchdowns in the second half.

By late afternoon, as shadows stretched across a mostly empty stadium, the Steelers were 4-1 and alone atop the AFC North. Just as significant, they had gotten Roethlisberger's much-anticipated return out of the way and can now concentrate on, you know, football, with a three-game road stretch looming.

"I think our offense can be just as good as our defense," said Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace, who caught three passes for a game-high 90 yards and a touchdown. "I know that sounds crazy because of how good our defense is, but I just feel like the sky is the limit."

Roethlisberger, who missed the first four games while serving an NFL-mandated suspension, is the main reason why such optimism abounded following the Steelers' seventh-straight home win against the Browns (1-4).

Playing in his first regular-season game since last January, Roethlisberger completed 16 of 27 passes and finished with a passer rating of 112.7.

On his 29-yard touchdown strike to Wallace and also on a 50-yard completion to the second-year speedster, Roethlisberger delivered passes under heavy duress.

He also showed his ability to escape collapsing pockets, which has long been a trademark of the seventh-year veteran.

Roethlisberger did appear to be overanxious on a couple of throws, most notably one in the first quarter that backup running back Mewelde Moore would have needed a ladder to catch.

Joe Haden intercepted the errant throw at the 3-yard line and weaved his way into Steelers territory with a long return.

That set up the first score of the game, a 39-yard field goal by Phil Dawson.

It didn't take the Steelers long to reclaim the lead for good. And on the second-quarter touchdown pass to Wallace, Roethlisberger put the ball in a good position despite getting drilled by outside linebacker Matt Roth.

"I felt like I left a lot of plays out there," Roethlisberger said. "That being said, we won the game and did pretty well on offense."

The Steelers struck a healthy balance between the pass and run and finished with 378 yards of total offense.

The offense only figures to improve as Roethlisberger gets more in sync with the teammates he did not practice with in September.

"I thought he played well, but I'm not surprised," Tomlin said. "He was sharp in preseason and training camp. He was sharp when he came back. He missed a few throws. He's not perfect. None of us are."

fordfixer
10-18-2010, 01:18 AM
Drive changes momentum for Steelers
By Kevin Gorman, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, October 18, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 04831.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_704831.html)

The Steelers were pinned at their own 4 when Ben Roethlisberger came into the huddle with two requests: for protection, so he had time to make the throw; and for receiver Mike Wallace to catch it.

"I wasn't worried about that," Wallace said. "I told him, 'Just let it fly and I'll come down with it.'"

The result was a 50-yard pass play that sparked a five-play, 96-yard scoring drive at 3:13 of the third quarter in the Steelers' 28-10 victory Sunday afternoon over the AFC North rival Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.

The drive opened up the offense on a day when Roethlisberger, returning from a four-game suspension, threw touchdown passes to receivers Wallace and Hines Ward and tight end Heath Miller. All three targets played a pivotal role in a drive that gave the Steelers their first double-digit lead, 14-3.

"It helps a lot, at least for Hines and myself, when Mike's running by people on the other side," Miller said. "It's hard to cover him one-on-one, as fast as he is, without giving him 20 yards off the top and all the hitches. He opens things up for us. They've got to play a guy over the top, so a lot of the time the crossing routes open for us, and Ben was able to find us."

Wallace wasn't the initial option on that first-down play. Miller was the intended receiver, but a cornerback blitz left Wallace against the strong safety, a clear mismatch in Wallace's favor. The ensuing play was designed to have Wallace go across the field, but the Browns left Miller all alone for a 36-yard gain to the Cleveland 10. On third-and-goal at the Browns' 8, Roethlisberger found Ward, who fought his way from the 5 to the end zone.

"Guys were hitting me, left and right, but nobody really wrapped up," Ward said. "I just stayed on my feet. When I smelled that goal line, I didn't want to be denied. I reached over and it went for a touchdown.

"That drive showed us what type of character and what type of players were on our team and the determination of Ben to stay in the pocket until the last second and give the guys an opportunity to make plays. It was a total team-effort drive, and I think that drive kind of helped seal the game."

fordfixer
10-18-2010, 01:19 AM
Ward moves past Bettis on Steelers' touchdown list
By Scott Brown, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, October 18, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 04838.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_704838.html)

With Jerome Bettis watching from a private box at Heinz Field, Hines Ward surpassed the former Steelers' great in career touchdowns Sunday afternoon.

Ward's 8-yard scoring reception in the third quarter gave him 81 touchdowns as a Steeler and moved him into sole possession of second place on the team's all-time list.

The only player ahead of Ward is Pro Football Hall of Famer Franco Harris, who scored 100 touchdowns for the Steelers from 1972-83.

"I'm going to let Franco be," Ward said following the Steelers' 28-10 win against the Cleveland Browns. "Even if I came close, you can't pass Franco. He's got a statue at the airport."

Ward holds most of the Steelers' major receiving records and yesterday he moved into fourth place on the NFL's list for consecutive games with at least one catch.

Ward's streak is at 183, and he moved past Hall of Famer Art Monk.

His touchdown catch -- one of five receptions he had against the Browns -- was vintage Ward.

He caught a Ben Roethlisberger pass near the 5-yard line and muscle his way into the end zone -- and past Bettis, his former teammate.

"He's somebody who I idolized growing up and was a mentor to me since I've been in the league," Ward said of Bettis. "Surpassing him is a great feeling."

QUOTABLE

"That's what defense is about, running to the ball and being physical. The biggest thing to me about the play on Cribbs is where James comes from. He's the backside end and to come that far to make that play, that's impressive. You're talking about a guy that's a defensive MVP, a Pro Bowler and still works like that and still finishes plays the way he does."

-- Ryan Clark

Steelers free safety, on the James Harrison hit that knocked Browns' multipurpose threat Josh Cribbs out of the game.

DIGITS

6 -- Consecutive home games in which running back Rashard Mendenhall has had at least one rushing touchdown.

38 -- Games in which quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has posted a passer rating of over 100.

fordfixer
10-18-2010, 01:25 AM
Big Ben makes offense click
Monday, October 18, 2010
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10291/1096091-150.stm

You can't simply Googlemap the intersection of performance and expectation, so, by any reasonable standard, the quarterback found his destination pretty easily on this sun-glistened Sunday.

Threw for nearly 300 yards.

Found the end zone.

Didn't rattle despite a fairly high rate of turbulence.

In sum, not bad at all for a guy playing his first meaningful football since January.

Yeah, Colt McCoy was impressive all right, but, on the day Ben Roethlisberger finally made it all the way back from that rainy night in Georgia (poetic license perhaps trumping meteorological accuracy), McCoy's first professional start was little more than a bold footnote to No. 7s return to the apparent good graces of Steelers Nation.

There were but a very few boos when Roethlisberger was introduced to a packed Heinz Field Sunday afternoon, and those nearly were drowned by a thunderous ovation from an audience that seems to sense that another long, successful Steelers autumn has gotten its legs.

And, more importantly, its golden arm.

"It was amazing," Roethlisberger said of his reception a couple of minutes after he'd finished taking apart the Cleveland Browns. "It was part of the emotions I was having. I had tears I my eyes."

Planned demonstrations and random protests by some portion of the fan base that still resents Ben's misadventures in misogyny did not amount to much, which would invite the conclusion that Roethlisberger's full-bore image rehab is all but complete, the outstanding balance easily negotiable by the consistency of civil public comportment.

Most of the North Side gathering yesterday was far more concerned that Ben overthrew Mewelde Moore on the Steelers' first possession, overthrew a wide open Mike Wallace in the fourth quarter, and missed on a couple of throws he usually doesn't, at least not when he does something other than fret for the past six months.

"I was putting just a little extra on it," Ben said of an expected initial anxiety. "The ball was coming out what we call hot, coming out [too] high and [too] strong. We left some plays out there, but that was a good Browns defense that we played."

Maybe so, but it was also a Browns defense with two rookies in its nickel package, one of whom Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey had just finished conversing with during a Steelers timeout -- fellow University of Florida rookie Joe Haden.

"We were real close teammates," Pouncey said. "Then, after he intercepted, I went up to him and said, 'Man, you can't be runnin' that long!' "

Haden took Ben's Mewelde-intended misfire 62 yards the other way, accounting for what was technically Roethlisberger's longest completion of the day. But the impact on Mike Tomlin's offense shouldn't be measured by the arithmetic dimensions of Ben's afternoon (he completed 16 of 27 passes for 257 yards, three touchdowns and one interception). The Steelers, who had converted just 10 of their previous 35 third-down opportunities in Roethlisberger's four-week absence, were 7 for 14 Sunday. A team that had been averaging only 13 first downs per week yesterday earned 22. More ominously for Pittsburgh's opponents, the offense, after a balky first half, began to look dangerous again.

This game changed from the aesthetic equivalent of two drunks rolling on a barroom floor into an aerial ballet late in the third quarter. Pinned inside the 10 repeatedly and nursing an uncomfortable, 7-3 lead, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians gambled on first-and-10 from the Steelers' 4. Cleveland had called a corner blitz, and Eric Wright flashed threateningly past Roethlisberger to his right a second before Browns linebacker Scott Fujita crashed into the quarterback.

Mike Wallace pulled it in 50 yards downfield.

"That was a little risky right there," said Ben (ya think?). "It was one of those plays where we just wanted to take a shot. I just chucked it, and [Fujita] got my arm when I let go of it, but, fortunately, the ball was gone when he hit me."

Roethlisberger found Heath Miller on a crossing route for 36 yards on the next play, then nailed Hines Ward cutting incorrectly toward the post three plays later for the touchdown that triggered a rout.

"The coaches told me after that Hines ran the wrong route, but we were on the same page," Roethlisberger said.

Ward dragged veteran corner Sheldon Brown into the end zone with the play that seemed to drag all Roethlisberger's dormant capabilities back into the sunlight. He found Rashard Mendenhall for 8 yards at the sideline on a subsequent third-and- 7, making possible Mendenhall's 3-yard touchdown run, and hit Miller in stride two possessions later for the 14-yard score that made it 28-10.

"Him being back is going to open things up for everybody," said Wallace, whose three catches covered 90 yards. "I didn't think he was going to be flawless. Then we'd have nothing to work on."


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fordfixer
10-18-2010, 01:26 AM
Steelers mark Big Ben's return with 28-10 win against Cleveland
Sunday, October 17, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10290/1096062-100.stm

Looking at times as rusty as if he had not played a game in six weeks, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did just enough to help the Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns, 28-10, at Heinz Field today.

Roethlisberger made his first appearance of the 2010 regular season after serving a four-game suspension. Cheered by fans when the Steelers' offense was introduced, Roethlisberger threw an interception that led to Cleveland's first score, but then he followed with three touchdown passes to Mike Wallace, Hines Ward and Heath Miller.

Rashard Mendenhall added a fourth Steelers score with a 2-yard run.

The Browns scored on Phil Dawson's 39-yard first-quarter field goal and a 12-yard touchdown pass by rookie quarterback Colt McCoy to tight end Ben Watson with 4:09 left in the game.

The Steelers raised their record to 4-1. The Browns are 1-5 after losing for the 13th time in the past 14 games against the Steelers.

The Browns reached the Steelers' 36 on the game's opening drive, but then a sack by LaMarr Woodley preceded Ryan Clark's interception to snuff that out.

Roethlisberger then jogged onto the field for another loud ovation, his first game since he started the final exhibition game Sept. 2 at Heinz Field. He led his first offensive series to Cleveland's 14, but on third down, he threw high to Mewelde Moore. Rookie cornerback Joe Haden intercepted it and weaved in and out of traffic to return 62 yards to the Steelers' 35.

Dawson converted it to a 3-0 Cleveland lead by kicking a 39-yard field goal.

The Steelers responded on the next series with a touchdown to take a 7-3 lead. Roethlisberger, as he was hit by linebacker Matt Roth, threw a 29-yard scoring pass to Wallace, who caught it behind cornerback Eric Wright in the right part of the end zone.

Roethlisberger tossed his second scoring pass in the third quarter, 8 yards to Ward, who caught it at the four and broke two tackles to fight into the end zone for a 14-3 lead.

It ended a four-play, 96-yard drive. Roethlisberger began the drive by hitting Wallace deep down the right side for a 50-yard reception just as the quarterback was getting hit up the middle by linebacker Scott Fujita. On the next play, he connected with Miller for a 36-yard pass, and again, Roethlisberger was knocked to the ground on the play, this time by Shaun Rogers.

The Steelers' third touchdown came after Cleveland's Chansi Stuckey fumbled a punt in the fourth quarter. Keyaron Fox recovered at the Browns' 13, and Mendenhall scored on a 2-yard run, his sixth straight home game with a touchdown run.

Cleveland's Joshua Cribbs, who has given the Steelers so much trouble through the years as a kickoff returner and offensive threat, left the game midway through the second quarter after a helmet-to-helmet hit by linebacker James Harrison.

Cribbs operated the "wildcat" offense a handful of times and was running out of that formation when he was tackled by Woodley and hit by Harrison as he was going down.

Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel left in the first quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return.

McCoy threw his first NFL touchdown pass to Watson that culminated a lightning drive that covered 70 yards in six plays for the Browns. McCoy completed passes of 23 and 28 yards on that drive, and Watson was wide open in the right side of the end zone for the touchdown.

Lawrence Timmons, who also had two sacks, intercepted a tipped pass at Cleveland's 18 with 1:42 to go. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin might have been content to run out the clock at that point. However, after Browns coach Eric Mangini called a time out with 1:35 left, Roethlisberger threw to Miller on third down for the final touchdown, from 14 yards.

For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette On the Steelers atwww.post-gazette.com/plus. Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com.


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fordfixer
10-18-2010, 01:29 AM
On the Steelers: Browns QB carousel counts 16 since 1999
Cleveland has failed in its many attempts to find a franchise QB since returning to the NFL
Sunday, October 17, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10290/1095889-66.stm

Since they passed on drafting Ben Roethlisberger in 2004, the Cleveland Browns have looked everywhere but the Home Shopping Network for a reliable quarterback. ¶ They have tried drafting them, signing them in free agency, even trading for them, all with the hope of finding the next Mike Phipps or Bernie Kosar. ¶ The search, though, actually has lasted a lot longer than the 2004 draft. ¶ When their franchise returned to the National Football League in 1999, the Browns used the No. 1 overall pick in the draft to select quarterback Tim Couch, a can't-miss, pass-happy quarterback from the University of Kentucky who, many thought, would revive their fortunes.

Instead of enjoying the same success as the quarterback picked immediately after him (Donovan McNabb), Couch flamed out faster than Joe Charboneau, compiling a 22-37 record in an undistinguished five-year career and triggering a quarterback quandary that has spiraled into a second decade.

Now, 12 years later, the Browns are still enduring the debilitating effect of their failures to find a quarterback.

"It's the most important position on field and it's also the most complex position on the field," said former Washington Redskins general manager Charley Casserly. "If you keep changing the player there, you keep spinning your wheels and you're starting over, and it's putting your offense in neutral."

When Roethlisberger returns to the field at 1 p.m. today at Heinz Field after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, the Browns will trot out another new starting quarterback -- rookie Colt McCoy -- a move mandated by injuries to the two quarterbacks who were brought in this season to stick their fingers into the franchise's leaky dike, Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace.

"It's challenging because we went into the season with Jake Delhomme as the starter, and then he was hurt the first game, then Seneca came in," said Browns coach Eric Mangini, who has started five different quarterbacks, counting McCoy, in less than two seasons in Cleveland. "Seneca did a great job and did a great job during the preseason. But you do have to do some different things with him than you have to with Jake. Now, with both banged up, you got to adjust to each guy that's in."

Keeping track of all the Browns' quarterbacks is like counting the mistresses in the Tiger Woods scandal -- every time you turn around another one pops up.

Since they returned to the league in 1999 the Browns have had 15 different starting quarterbacks. McCoy, their third-round selection from Texas, will be No. 16.

"We felt like we had really answered that question with Jake starting and playing the first game of the season," Mangini said. "You just don't know with injuries. You got to deal with it and move forward. But we had some experience with it, definitely."

Even more indicative of their futile search: The Browns have had a different starting quarterback in six of the past seven season openers since they passed on Roethlisberger. That includes Jeff Garcia, who was signed in free agency in February 2004. A former Pro Bowl and playoff quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers, he was the reason the Browns did not draft Roethlisberger and instead opted to take tight end Kellen Winslow Jr.

The others: Trent Dilfer, Charlie Frye, Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn and Delhomme.

Curiously, the only quarterback to last longer than five years is the one who was drafted to play another position -- wide receiver Joshua Cribbs, who was a quarterback at Kent State and is in his sixth season with the Browns.

"Things happen," Cribbs said the other day. "You have to take it in stride and move on. You have to play for whoever the quarterback is. This is the NFL. A guy can be on one team one day and then another team the next. So you have to take things in stride and go out there and learn how to play football without worrying about who is at quarterback or who is the wide receiver or who is this guy. You need to do your job and do it well."

Such is a way of life for the Browns, who go through quarterbacks like diners go through napkins.

"The reason you have so many quarterbacks is usually because you don't have a good one," Casserly said.
Short stints

In Cleveland, the mistakes are everywhere you look.

It began when the new franchise used its first draft choice on Couch, even though it had no offensive line to protect him and no running back or wide receivers to complement him. Couch started 59 games in five years with the Browns -- more than any other quarterback since their inaugural season -- and led the team to its only playoff appearance since its return, in 2002.

But, after Kelly Holcomb started for the injured Couch and passed for 429 yards and three touchdowns in a near upset in a wild-card game at Heinz Field, Couch started only seven more games the following season and was gone.

Then there was Frye, a third-round choice from Akron who played in the same Mid-American Conference as Roethlisberger and grew up in Willard, Ohio, about 50 miles from Roethlisberger's hometown of Findlay. When the Browns drafted him in 2005, it was almost as if it was some type of psychological salve or professional mea culpa for not taking Roethlisberger one year earlier.

In his third season, Frye was named to start the 2007 season opener against the Steelers, largely because he was the default winner of a training-camp competition with slow-footed Derek Anderson. But, after completing just 4 of 10 passes for 34 yards and throwing an interception in a 34-7 loss to the Steelers, Frye was benched at halftime and traded two days later to the Seattle Seahawks.

It might have been the shortest title ever held since Andre the Giant held the World Wrestling Federation championship for 45 seconds in 1988 (he sold the title to the Million Dollar Man after pinning Hulk Hogan).

The Browns have seen the long-term effects of such inconsistency at quarterback. Heading into this meeting with the Steelers, they are 60-122 since 1999.

Not one of the 15 quarterbacks who preceded McCoy has a winning record. Anderson, who started 34 games between 2007-2009, was the closest (16-18).

"It's devastating," said Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who was the Browns' offensive coordinator during their only playoff season in 2002. "You can have a quality defense but you can't score points, and you can have a quality offensive line and say, OK, we'll run the ball, but you can't score enough points to beat the good ones without a quality quarterback. Playing with a young guy that's going to turn it over and put your team at risk, it's hard to win and it's very, very frustrating."

As the Browns can attest.
A stable situation

No team has had greater quarterback stability than the Green Bay Packers, who have had only two starting quarterbacks since Sept. 20, 1992 -- Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Favre started 253 consecutive games for the Packers until his first retirement in 2008, and Rodgers has followed the same iron-man path, starting 36 consecutive games since replacing Favre.

That streak, though, could be in jeopardy because Rodgers sustained a concussion last week in a loss to the Washington Redskins and might not play at home today against the Miami Dolphins.

"You can lose guys at other positions," Arians said. "But there's usually not as big a dropoff as there is at that position."

Since 1999, the Steelers have had seven starting quarterbacks -- Kordell Stewart, Mike Tomczak, Kent Graham, Tommy Maddox, Charlie Batch, Dennis Dixon and Roethlisberger. But, during that period, three quarterbacks have started 162 of the 180 games -- Roethlisberger (86), Stewart (44) and Maddox (32). And the record in that stretch is 112-67-1.

"There are only so many good quarterbacks in the league, and, when you get to the backup quarterback, they're still a backup quarterback," Casserly said. "Now, when you get to the third quarterback, it's even worse. In Cleveland's case, you're starting a rookie. At least with Pittsburgh, you have an experienced guy with Batch and then you got [Byron] Leftwich."

They do not need a shopping list. Have not since 2004.

Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com.


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fordfixer
10-18-2010, 01:50 AM
Tomlin doesn't mince words on QB
October 18, 2010 01:20 AM

By: MIKE CIAROCHI
Herald Standard
http://www.heraldstandard.com/news_deta ... on-qb.html (http://www.heraldstandard.com/news_detail/article/1636/2010/october/18/tomlin-doesnt-mince-words-on-qb.html)

PITTSBURGH - A lot has been, is being and will be written about Ben Roethlisberger's return from a four-game NFL-mandated suspension for violation of the league's personal conduct policy.

Being the results-driven person he is, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin isn't about to micromanage Roethlisberger's play or his life off the field. Tomlin will continue to treat his star quarterback as he treats the 53rd and last man on his bench, as a man.

Maybe that's why Tomlin didn't mince words, or waste a lot of them, when asked about Roethlisberger's return, which came in Sunday's 28-10 win over the Cleveland Browns.

"It was going to happen," Tomlin said. "At some point, the guy was going to come back. It was going to be a story of some sort of fashion. It's not our story. Our story is the story of the 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers and our quest to win football games.

"You guys can talk about it however you want to talk about it. He had to come back at some point. He came back today. He's ready to play, as are we. We won; we're moving on."

As for how Roethlisberger played in this win that allowed the Steelers to catch Baltimore and return to the top of the AFC North Division, well that's another story altogether.

"I thought he played well, but I'm not surprised by that," Tomlin said. "He was sharp in training camp and in the preseason. He was sharp when he came back. I think it started way back in the summer. He came in great shape he's been working. When given the opportunity, we know this guy's capable of playing the way he played today."

Was Roethlisberger anxious when the game began?

"He hasn't played in a month," Tomlin said. "You can characterize it the way you want to characterize it. He missed a few throws. He's not perfect; none of us are."

The quarterback, though, admitted to a bit of anxiety, which could be attributed to the tremendous ovation, which he called "Amazing," that he received from the home crowd.

"Just a little extra," Roethlisberger said. "The ball was coming out what we call hot, coming out high and strong. We left some things out there, but that's a good Browns defense that we played. I'm proud of the way we played, especially the line and running the ball."

The Steelers take their 4-1 show on the road at Miami next Sunday for a sixth straight 1 p.m. start. Pittsburgh moved into first place in the division when New England beat Baltimore (4-2) in overtime.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: The Steelers opened the game committed to running the ball and stuck with that plan. As a team, Pittsburgh averaged 3.5 yards per rush on 35 carries. By contrast, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger passed only 27 times (completing 16 for 257 yards and three touchdowns. "BA's going to call the game for our team," Hines Ward said, referring to offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. "We're not going to be a pass-happy team. We're going to be balanced." + Defensively, the Steelers knew Josh Cribbs was going to be a big part of what the Browns wanted to do, so it was a key to the game when Cribbs left early with a head injury. + The Steelers converted half of their 14 third-down plays, amassed 378 total yards and did not allow a sack.
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WHAT WENT WRONG: Despite the lopsided win, the Steelers left some points on the field, most notably when Roethlisberger overthrew Mike Wallace for a big gain or a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The Steelers led, 14-3, at the time, but could have salted the game away sooner than they did. "I knew it was out of bounds," Roethlisberger said. "It was a horrible throw. Mike was wide open on the sideline and I tried to fire it in there and it just came off my hand high." + Lawrence Timmons left tight end Ben Watson wide open by trying to attack quarterback Colt McCoy on Cleveland's only touchdown of the game. + Pittsburgh's opening offensive possession moved the ball to Cleveland's 14-yard like, but Roethlisberger threw an interception to Joe Haden that led to Cleveland's field goal and gave Cleveland a 3-0 lead.

STAT OF THE GAME: The Steelers won the game by doing what they have historically done well, while keeping the Browns from doing it as well. Pittsburgh ran 35 times for 121 yards, while limiting Cleveland to 20 rushes for 70 yards. Pittsburgh ran only two more plays than Cleveland (62-60) and averaged 6.1 yards per play compared to Cleveland's 5.5.

MILESTONES: Hines Ward scored the 81st touchdown of his career giving him sole possession of second place on the team's all-time list. He has 80 receiving touchdowns and one rushing score. Ward trails only Franco Harris, who scored 100 touchdowns in his Hall of Fame career. Ward caught a pass for the 183rd consecutive game, tying him with Art Monk for fourth on the all-time NFL list of games with at least one reception+ The crowd of 65,168 was the fifth largest in Heinz Field history.

THOSE PESKY PUNTERS: Cleveland punter Reggie Hodges dropped three punts inside the Steelers' 5-yard line, pinning the Steelers deep in their own territory. But it was Pittsburgh's Daniel Sepulveda who forced a Browns turnover that helped Pittsburgh seal the deal. Pittsburgh was called for consecutive penalties on fourth-quarter Sepulveda punts. On his third straight kick, Cleveland jumped offside, but return man Chansi Stuckey fumbled the kick and Pittsburgh's Keyaron Fox recovered. Four plays later, Rashard Mendenhall scored to swell the Steelers lead to 21-3 with 5:50 remaining. For good measure, Sepulveda's next punt was downed by Anthony Madison, who had been called for one of the earlier penalties, at the Browns' 3-yard line.

INJURIES: Chris Kemoeato and Doug Legarsky left the game, but returned a series after their injuries. Brett Keisel (hamstring) was the only player listed by coach Mike Tomlin as having a new injury.

WORTH REPEATING: "It's a little different because I've been through it before. This is my seventh year now. You get past the initial nerves and you know you are capable of doing, it's just a matter of getting out there and doing it," said Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger when asked if this game left anything like his first game as a pro or his first college game.

fordfixer
10-18-2010, 01:51 AM
Roethlisberger's return a success
October 18, 2010 01:20 AM

By: HERALD STANDARD STAFF
Herald Standard
http://www.heraldstandard.com/news_deta ... ccess.html (http://www.heraldstandard.com/news_detail/article/1636/2010/october/18/roethlisbergers-return-a-success.html)

PITTSBURGH (AP) - With Ben Roethlisberger reveling in the cheers he once feared he might not hear, the Pittsburgh Steelers looked like themselves for the first time all season. They also sounded like the team that loves to intimidate.

To the Cleveland Browns, it was Steelers linebacker James Harrison who was the game's impact player. Twice.

Roethlisberger, cheered loudly during his first game in 9 1/2 months, returned from his four-game suspension to throw three touchdown passes, and the Steelers shut down a Browns offense that was depleted by Harrison hits during a 28-10 victory on Sunday.

With the Steelers (4-1) leading 7-3 but backed up to their own 4 late in the third quarter, Roethlisberger - flashing the big-play ability his team lacked without him - completed passes of 50 yards to Mike Wallace and 36 yards to Heath Miller on successive plays.

Three plays later, Hines Ward fought through two potential tacklers on an 8-yard touchdown catch that made it 14-3.

Roethlisberger also threw scoring passes of 29 yards to Wallace and 14 yards to Miller. He finished 16 of 27 for 257 yards during his first regular-season game since he was accused of, but not charged with, sexually assaulting a Georgia college student in March.

Then, numerous Steelers fans professed to be outraged with the quarterback's actions. Except for 20 sign-carrying protesters outside Heinz Field, that anger wasn't evident as Roethlisberger received numerous loud ovations from the standing-room crowd of 65,168.

"I started thinking about it on the way here," said Roethlisberger, who once worried that his reception would be chilly. "Before the game I got emotional. To hear the cheers was something special. I got a little emotional."

The Browns (1-5) couldn't get into the end zone until rookie Colt McCoy threw a 12-yard scoring pass to Ben Watson with Pittsburgh already up by 18 points.

McCoy (23 of 33, 281 yards, five sacks) didn't look overwhelmed in his first NFL start, but he played with a depleted cast after Harrison hits sidelined wide receivers Joshua Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi with head injuries during the second quarter.

"We had our hands full with those guys," McCoy said. "They're really fast, they're really good."

Cribbs left after a helmet-to-helmet caused him to crumple onto the turf for several minutes. Massaquoi was shaken up after Harrison's hit caused him to drop a pass. Alex Mack, angry at how Harrison kept sidelining his teammates, reacted by angrily kicking the ball about 20 yards to the Browns' sideline, drawing a delay-of-game penalty.

"You don't want to injure people. I don't want to injure anybody," Harrison said. "But I'm not opposed to hurting anybody."

Apparently, his teammates aren't, either.

"He's a beast," Ward said of the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year. "When you see him knocking guys out, you know he's a man on a mission. You don't want to see guys get hurt, but he set the tempo for us."

With Cribbs unable to operate the wildcat set the Browns used effectively in upsetting the Steelers 13-6 in December, Cleveland's offense took on a more predictable and easier-to-defend look. Cribbs ran for 83 yards in that game; this time, Peyton Hills had a team-high 41 yards.

"It makes it tough when you're planning to vary the attack with couple of different things, and we're out of it with quite a bit of the game left," said coach Eric Mangini.

The Browns were forced to play the second half with only two healthy wide receivers, Brian Robiskie and Chansi Stuckey. It was another oddity in a game in which none of the four active quarterbacks - Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich, McCoy and Brett Ratliff - had previously thrown a pass all season.

Still, McCoy's encouraging performance against a defense that has allowed a league-low 60 points offered some hope.

"He had a lot of poise for his first game, playing against one of the toughest defenses in the league," Mangini said.

The Steelers, beating Cleveland for the 13th time in 14 games, moved into first place in the AFC North as Baltimore (4-2) lost to New England 23-20 in overtime.

Roethlisberger didn't get off to a great start; he was intercepted on Pittsburgh's first drive, but came back to find Wallace for the game's only touchdown in the first 41-plus minutes.

"We didn't want him to be flawless," said Wallace, who welcomed Roethlisberger back by cutting the Mohawk haircut the quarterback disliked. "Then we wouldn't have anything to work on in practice."

To ease Roethlisberger in, the Steelers ran Rashard Mendenhall frequently at the start. He finished with 84 yards, including a 2-yard TD run.

Cleveland's most effective play was a punt inside the Steelers 10; Reggie Hodges did that four times, repeatedly backing the Steelers up and keeping the game close - at least until Roethlisberger got away from a predictably conservative game plan to hit the long passes to Wallace and Miller.

NOTES: No running back has gained more than 42 yards against Pittsburgh. ... Ward caught a pass in the 183rd consecutive game, matching Art Monk for the fourth-longest streak in NFL history. ... Phil Dawson's 39-yard field goal was his Browns-record 235th, one more than Lou Groza. ... McCoy was the 11th Browns quarterback to start since Roethlisberger became a starter in 2004. The Steelers have started three other QBs during that time because of injuries. ... Steelers DE Brett Keisel (hamstring) was hurt in the first quarter and didn't return.

fordfixer
10-18-2010, 01:58 AM
October 18, 2010
Roethlisberger returns with fanfare, Steelers' victory

ALAN ROBINSON Associated Press Mon Oct 18, 2010, 12:20 AM EDT
http://tribune-democrat.com/prosports/x ... rs-victory (http://tribune-democrat.com/prosports/x154636661/Roethlisberger-returns-with-fanfare-Steelers-victory)

PITTSBURGH — With Ben Roethlisberger reveling in the cheers he once feared he might not hear, the Pittsburgh Steelers looked like themselves for the first time all season. They also sounded like the team that loves to intimidate.

To the Cleveland Browns, it was Steelers linebacker James Harrison who was the game’s impact player. Twice.

Roethlisberger, cheered loudly during his first game in 91/2 months, returned from his four-game suspension to throw three touchdown passes, and the Steelers shut down a Browns offense that was depleted by Harrison hits during a 28-10 victory on Sunday.

With the Steelers (4-1) leading 7-3 but backed up to their own 4 late in the third quarter, Roethlisberger – flashing the big-play ability his team lacked without him – completed passes of 50 yards to Mike Wallace and 36 yards to Heath Miller on successive plays.

Three plays later, Hines Ward fought through two potential tacklers on an 8-yard touchdown catch that made it 14-3.

Roethlisberger also threw scoring passes of 29 yards to Wallace and 14 yards to Miller. He finished 16 of 27 for 257 yards during his first regular-season game since he was accused of, but not charged with, sexually assaulting a Georgia college student in March.

Then, numerous Steelers fans professed to be outraged with the quarterback’s actions. Except for 20 sign-carrying protesters outside Heinz Field, that anger wasn’t evident as Roethlisberger received numerous loud ovations from the standing-room crowd of 65,168.

“I started thinking about it on the way here,” said Roethlisberger, who once worried that his reception would be chilly. “Before the game I got emotional. To hear the cheers was something special. I got a little emotional.”

The Browns (1-5) couldn’t get into the end zone until rookie Colt McCoy threw a 12-yard scoring pass to Ben Watson with Pittsburgh already up by 18 points.

McCoy (23 of 33, 281 yards, five sacks) didn’t look overwhelmed in his first NFL start, but he played with a depleted cast after Harrison hits sidelined wide receivers Joshua Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi with head injuries during the second quarter.

“We had our hands full with those guys,” McCoy said. “They’re really fast, they’re really good.”

Cribbs left after a helmet-to-helmet hit caused him to crumple onto the turf for several minutes. Massaquoi was shaken up after Harrison’s hit caused him to drop a pass.

“You don’t want to injure people. I don’t want to injure anybody,” Harrison said. “But I’m not opposed to hurting anybody.”

With Cribbs unable to operate the wildcat set the Browns used effectively in upsetting the Steelers 13-6 in December, Cleveland’s offense took on a more predictable and easier-to-defend look. Cribbs ran for 83 yards in that game; this time, Peyton Hillis had a team-high 41 yards.

“It makes it tough when you’re planning to vary the attack with a couple of different things, and we’re out of it with quite a bit of the game left,” said coach Eric Mangini, who started McCoy because Seneca Wallace and Jake Delhomme have high ankle sprains.

The Browns were forced to play the second half with only two healthy wide receivers, Brian Robiskie and Chansi Stuckey. It was another oddity in a game in which none of the four active quarterbacks – Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich, McCoy and Brett Ratliff – had previously thrown a pass all season.

Still, McCoy’s encouraging performance against a defense that has allowed a league-low 60 points offered some hope.

The Steelers, beating Cleveland for the 13th time in 14 games, moved into first place in the AFC North as Baltimore (4-2) lost to New England 23-20 in overtime.

Roethlisberger didn’t get off to a great start; he was intercepted on Pittsburgh’s first drive, but came back to find Wallace for the game’s only touchdown in the first 41-plus minutes.

To ease Roethlisberger in, the Steelers ran Rashard Mendenhall frequently at the start. He finished with 84 yards, including a 2-yard TD run.

Cleveland’s most effective play was a punt inside the Steelers 10; Reggie Hodges did that four times, repeatedly backing the Steelers up and keeping the game close – at least until Roethlisberger got away from a predictably conservative game plan to hit the long passes to Wallace and Miller.

Notes: No running back has gained more than 42 yards against Pittsburgh. ... Steelers DE Brett Keisel (hamstring) was hurt in the first quarter and didn’t return.

fordfixer
10-18-2010, 02:13 AM
Steelers welcome rusty Roethlisberger back after 4-game suspension with win
Monday, October 18, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10291/1096107-66.stm
On a dial-it-up perfect autumn day, Ben Roethlisberger was not.

Three touchdown passes against the Cleveland Browns in a 28-10 victory for the Steelers? Nice, not perfect, and that was good news for one of his favorite targets.

"I didn't really want him to be flawless coming back," said Mike Wallace, who caught Roethlisberger's first touchdown pass of the season and led the Steelers with 90 yards receiving. "Then, we wouldn't really have anything to work on. He had a really good game, but he missed a couple of throws that I'm happy he missed."

Looking at times early in the game as rusty as if he had not played in six weeks, Roethlisberger settled in and wore down the Browns. He put in a typical performance for his 2010 regular-season debut after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL personal conduct policy. He last played Sept. 2 in a preseason game.

Cheered by fans when the Steelers' offense was introduced, Roethlisberger threw an interception that led to Cleveland's first

score, but followed with touchdown passes to Wallace, Hines Ward and Heath Miller.

Roethlisberger completed 16 of 27 passes for 257 yards and a 112.7 passer rating. He also was not sacked, something rare for a quarterback who was sacked 50 times last season.

"He hadn't played in a month!" noted coach Mike Tomlin, whose team won three games behind Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch in Roethlisberger's absence. "You can characterize it the way you want to characterize it. He missed a few throws. He's not perfect, none of us are. He played a good football game."

Rashard Mendenhall, who ran 27 times for 84 yards, added a fourth Steelers score with a 2-yard run that broke open a closer-than-expected game that favored the home club by 14 points. The Steelers led by just 7-3 until Ward's 8-yard touchdown catch late in the third quarter.

"We missed a couple of plays," Ward said of the sluggish early-going.

The Browns scored on Phil Dawson's 39-yard first-quarter field goal but were silent until a 12-yard touchdown pass by rookie quarterback Colt McCoy to tight end Ben Watson with 4:09 left.

The Steelers raised their record to 4-1 and are back in first place by themselves in the AFC North Division after Baltimore's overtime loss in New England. The Browns are 1-5 after losing for the 13th time in the past 14 games against the Steelers.

"It was going to happen, guys," Tomlin said of Roethlisberger's first game back and all the attention it drew for the past two weeks. "At some point, the guy was going to come back. It was going to be a story in some form or fashion. It's not our story. Our story is the story of the 2010 Steelers and our quest to win football games."

They are known for winning games early under Tomlin -- a 6-2 start last season, 5-1 in 2008 and 4-1 in 2007. Never before, however, has any team had to open its season under such circumstances, with its two-time Super Bowl quarterback suspended for alleged sexual shenanigans in a tiny Georgia town where he was never charged with a crime.

After months of debate over how the fans might greet him, Roethlisberger heard the cheers during introductions and again when he took the field for the first time after Ryan Clark's interception snuffed out the Browns' first series after it reached the Steelers' 36.

Roethlisberger led his first offensive series to Cleveland's 14 but, on third down, he threw high to Mewelde Moore. Rookie cornerback Joe Haden intercepted the pass and weaved in and out of traffic to return it 62 yards to the Steelers' 35.

"I just got a little antsy," Roethlisberger explained. "Mewelde Moore was open. I wanted to get him the ball right away when I needed to just settle down and get it to him."

Dawson converted the Steelers' only turnover into a 3-0 Cleveland lead by kicking a 39-yard field goal.

The Steelers responded on the next series with a touchdown to take a 7-3 lead. Roethlisberger, as he was hit by linebacker Matt Roth, threw a 29-yard scoring pass to Wallace, who caught it behind cornerback Eric Wright in the end zone.

Getting hit as he completed big passes became a theme for Roethlisberger Sunday; the Browns blitzed him, but got to him a tad late.

"He got hit a couple times," Ward said. "That's what I was more worried about. He hadn't been hit like that in over a month. But he held his own, came out and kept fighting."

Roethlisberger tossed his second scoring pass in the third quarter, 8 yards to Ward, who caught it at the four and broke two tackles to fight into the end zone for a 14-3 lead.

It ended a four-play, 96-yard drive. Roethlisberger began the drive by hitting Wallace deep down the right side for a 50-yard reception just as the quarterback was getting hit up the middle by linebacker Scott Fujita. On the next play, he connected with Miller for a 36-yard pass and, again, Roethlisberger was knocked to the ground on the play, this time by Shaun Rogers.

The Steelers' third touchdown followed a fumble by Cleveland's Chansi Stuckey on a punt in the fourth quarter. Keyaron Fox recovered at the Browns' 13, and Mendenhall scored on a 2-yard run to give him six consecutive home game with a touchdown run.

McCoy, looking poised in his first NFL start, threw his first NFL touchdown pass to tight end Benjamin Watson that culminated a lightning drive that covered 70 yards in six plays for the Browns. McCoy completed passes of 23 and 28 yards on that drive, and Watson was wide open in the right side of the end zone for the touchdown.

"He shows composure," Tomlin said of the Browns' rookie.

Lawrence Timmons, who also had two sacks, intercepted a tipped pass at Cleveland's 18 with 1:42 to go. Roethlisberger then threw to Miller on third down for the final touchdown from 14 yards.

The Steelers and their quarterback passed the final hurdle -- they hope -- in Roethlisberger's long ordeal that began March 5.

"It's football for me," Roethlisberger said. "I'm just happy to be out there, to be with those guys and win a football game."

Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com.


Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10291/10 ... z12gjUc7oi (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10291/1096107-66.stm#ixzz12gjUc7oi)

papillon
10-18-2010, 08:12 AM
Here's a :Bow to Fixer, thanks for posting.

Pappy