View Full Version : On the field, he's the same old Ben

01-23-2011, 04:00 AM
On the field, he's the same old Ben
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sport ... d-ben.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sports_details/article/1501/2011/january/22/on-the-field-hes-the-same-old-ben.html)
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Saturday January 22, 2011 11:52 PM

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger looks on from the sidelines during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

PITTSBURGH — His off-the-field escapades may have changed Ben Roethlisberger for the better as a person. But as a football player, he’s the same guy who’s been leading the Steelers for seven years now.

Back in March, however, not even Roethlisberger knew what the future held for him.

Then, he was one of the most reviled athletes in America. He had been accused of sexual assault for the second time in less than a year. And he paid the consequences.

Even though he wasn’t charged, his story became the NFL’s most compelling off-season development. Ugly details of his birthday bash in Milledgeville, Ga., embarrassed Roethlisberger, his family and the Steelers.

He made national headlines for the wrong reasons. He was ripped by the media. He was the butt of jokes from football fans across the country and from comedians like Jay Leno. The Steelers even considered trading him.

But now as the Steelers take on the Jets in the AFC Championship Game, all that is history. Roethlisberger did his penance. He sat out the first four games of the season while serving a suspension handed down by commissioner Roger Goodell. He’s been a model citizen since his return.

And tonight, Roethlisberger is trying to get back to the Super Bowl for the third time in six seasons.

“Everyone says he’s changed as a person, and I guess that’s true,” tight end Heath Miller said. “He’s come back as committed as I’ve ever seen him. He’s playing great football. He’s committed to winning. He’s a leader on this team.

“But that was all true a year ago. To me, he’s the same old Ben he’s always been because everything I just said I would have said a year ago.”

As a passer, Roethlisberger leads the Steelers in more than 40 career passing categories. But the stats he treasures most are the team wins.

He’s 69-29 in regular season play. In his first 90 games, he won more times than every quarterback in NFL history except two (Oakland’s Ken Stabler and New England’s Tom Brady). In post-eason play, Roethlisberger is 9-2. He’s the youngest QB to ever win a Super Bowl. He’s one of only 10 QBs with two or more Super Bowl wins.

“He’s a winner,” wide receiver Hines Ward said. “Every time he steps in that huddle, the whole team knows we have a chance to win ball games. He just has that confidence that he’s going to win every game that he’s in.”

This evening when the Steelers (13-4) take on the Jets (13-5), their biggest advantage might be at the quarterback position. The Steelers have Roethlisberger, the Jets have Mark Sanchez.

When it comes to pure passing skills, there’s no contest.

Roethlisberger, 28, ranked fifth in the league this year with a 97.0 passer rating. He completed 61.7 percent of his passes. His touchdown pass-to-interception ratio was an impressive 17 to 5. Sanchez, 24, ranked 27th with a 75.3 rating. He completed only 54.8 percent of his passes with 17 TD throws and 13 picks.

However, Sanchez compares favorably to Roethlisberger where it matters most. And that’s playing winning football.

Sanchez owns a 18-10 record as a starter, postseason games included. Like Roethlisberger, he’s made it to the AFC Championship Game for the first two years of his career.

What’s really intriguing about Sanchez’s 4-1 postseason record is that the wild-card Jets have not played a home playoff game the past two years. If the Jets win tonight, Sanchez will set an NFL record for most playoff wins by a quarterback on the road.

“He just makes the plays,” Roethlisberger said. “People get on him a lot. It’s ‘Run the ball and manage the game, Mark.’

“No, to be a quarterback at this level and to do what he’s done, you don’t just manage a game. You play the game and do it at a high level. That’s what he’s done. Every week, you see him take strides.”

Last week in a 28-21 win in New England, Sanchez was never better. He upstaged Brady by throwing three TD passes and no interceptions while posting a career-best 127.3 passer rating.

“He’s such a huge competitor,” Jets coach Rex Ryan. “The bigger the stage, the more he wants to play and the more he looks into it as this is his time to shine. That’s just the way Mark is.”

That’s the way Roethlisberger is, too.

In April when Goodell suspended Roethlisberger, few could have imagined the Steelers making it as far as they have. It’s truly been an amazing season for the Steelers for a lot of reasons. many players have contributed winning performances.

But few were forced to overcome personal demons.

“You know what? That’s about the last thing on my mind right now,” Roethlisberger said when asked about the way he’s battled through his off-the-field adversity.

“It’s about playing football, and that’s what I try to do. Play football games and win and just be me.”