Super Bowl Notebook: Tall receiver flap overblown, Roethlisberger says

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PHOENIX -- Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, in town for his first Pro Bowl promotional news conference, said last night he has no problem with Hines Ward and no knowledge of any progress on a new contract for himself.

"I haven't heard anything yet, but I leave that between the Steelers and my agent," Roethlisberger said. "All I can say is what I've said, and that's that I want to stay in Pittsburgh."

Roethlisberger has two years remaining on his current contract, the point at which the Steelers have commonly begun negotiations with starting quarterbacks who figure prominently in their long-term plans.

As for last week's Ward blowup, Roethlisberger said he and the star wideout have talked about Ward's comments, and his own, and laughed about the whole public byplay.

"What I was asked was, 'What else would I like?' " Roethlisberger said. "I don't want to change anything. I like the team we have. Hines just said how he felt about it, but Hines and I are fine. I have no problem with Hines."

Roethlisberger told the Post-Gazette that the club might benefit from having a tall receiver. Ward, who is 6 feet, pointed out that the Steelers won the Super Bowl without one.

In the formal Pro Bowl news conference, Roethlisberger was asked specifically about former Steeler Plaxico Burress in another context.

"Plax was my neighbor, my friend, my teammate," Roethlisberger said. "I hope he does well on Sunday."

Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, seated next to Roethlisberger, then quipped, "Translation: He hates the Patriots."

Roethlisberger laughed, but quickly added his admiration for Patriots superstar Tom Brady.

"Someone asked what superhero I'd like to be and I said Tom Brady," he said.

"He just makes it look so easy. We go out there and try to do it, and it doesn't feel easy."

Prediction flap

Burress' prediction, a 23-17 final Sunday, continued to reverberate yesterday, even though Plax cautioned that it was not a guarantee.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin was among those not terribly pleased to have a prognosticator at wideout.

"As I've said before, I will speak to Plaxico in a private way," Coughlin said.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady laughed off Burress' vision, feigning insult over the 17 part.

"We're only going to score 17 points?" Brady yipped. "Is Plax playing defense?"

Burress was more than 30 minutes late for media obligations yesterday, but not because he was detained by the promised Coughlin chat. Burress said he was playing with his 1-year-old daughter.

"I know they have confidence," Brady said. "They should have confidence, they're the NFC champs. They're very talented.

"We don't make predictions, we just let our play do the talking. I learned that lesson early in my career. No matter what you say during the week, and God knows we say a lot this entire week, we're focused on going out there and trying to do our best."

Running very well

The Giants have been getting substantial offensive impact from the running back tandem of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, who have combined for 318 yards in three postseason games.

Bradshaw, a rookie out of Marshall, has averaged 4.2 yards per carry in the postseason, and it was a Bradshaw run that set up New York's go-ahead touchdown at Dallas, a 1-yard run by Jacobs, who, at 6-4 and 264, is 7 inches taller and 65 pounds heavier than Bradshaw.

"A lot of teams would love to have one of our running backs, let alone two," said Giants center Shaun O'Hara. "We spend a lot of time on the running game."

As for an explanation of why it seems to be so effectively lately, Jacobs pretty much nailed it.

"When Ahmad is in there, he runs very well," Jacobs said. "When I'm in there, I run very well."

It's all in the number

No one has likely mentioned this to Eli Manning, but no quarterback wearing No. 10 has won a Super Bowl. Guys wearing 10 are 0-3 in the big one, with Fran Tarkenton wearing it all three times.

The most common winning quarterback number is 12 (13 winners). The most common losing quarterback number is 12 (10 losers).

Brady, No. 12, is 3-0 in this game.



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