Ben Roethlisberger threw his 100th touchdown pass Monday night with little fanfare.
Actually, it was with no fanfare.
The ball that Santonio Holmes caught and turned into a game-changing, 38-yard touchdown reception did not go to Big Ben but to Santonio's mom.
"He didn't say anything to me," Holmes said. "If he said something to me, I'd give it to him."
Surely, Big Ben would not deprive Santonio's mom of her game ball. Anyway, as Holmes said, "There will be a million more of those."
Maybe not quite that many. Roethlisberger's total includes 88 touchdown passes in the regular season and 12 more in the playoffs. He already ranks second in franchise history behind Terry Bradshaw's 212 scoring tosses in the regular season, 242 including postseason.
Some pointers, please
Byron Leftwich spent four seasons as Jacksonville's starting quarterback until they released him after training camp in 2007. As Roethlisberger's backup, he could supply the Steelers with some counterintelligence this week.
"I can't tell them anything they don't already know," Leftwich protested. "Pittsburgh and the Jaguars have been playing each other every year now."
Perhaps, but it hasn't stopped Roethlisberger from pumping his backup for information about the Jaguars.
"The whole first meeting I was talking to him about who he knows, what he knows and little tidbits about each guy," Roethlisberger said. "It's a big help to have him here."
Reed is honored
Jeff Reed has never made a Pro Bowl, but the Steelers' kicker has been Pro Bowl-caliber for a number of years. Last season, he missed only two field-goal tries -- one from 65 yards in Denver and the other from 44 yards in the muck at Heinz Field against Miami.
Monday night, he made all three field-goal attempts, including the 46-yard winner in overtime to beat Baltimore, 23-20. Yesterday, the Steelers' special teams captain was named AFC special teams player of the week.
He has made all seven of his field-goal tries this year.
"You look at the stats around the league, it's like nobody misses," Reed said. "If you miss a few, you finish under 80 percent, you're like in the bottom five of the NFL."
Reed, though, does not get much chance to kick in a dome or warm weather in November and December, especially this season when the Steelers play every game outdoors and have no warm-weather games scheduled those two months.
"It's not going to get any easier," Reed said. "The weather and the field only get a little worse at home."
The Steelers' kick-coverage teams have improved noticeably through four games, although coach Mike Tomlin hoped no one would notice.
"Don't say that," Tomlin pleaded. "Keep tearing it down, baby. We're working at it."
They must work a little harder this week because the Jaguars feature rookie Brian Witherspoon, who averages 29.7 yards on kickoff returns, 15.8 yards on punt returns and was timed at under 4.2 in the 40. The Steelers have permitted an average of just 19.4 yards on kickoff returns and 5.2 yards on punt returns.
"They're doing a nice job," Tomlin finally conceded of his coverage teams, "but we've got a tall challenge this week in the name of that young man, Witherspoon."
The Steelers officially signed running back Gary Russell from their practice squad to the 53-man roster. They released safety Grant Mason from their practice squad and added two to that unit, re-signing guard Doug Legursky and defensive end Jordan Reffett, who spent training camp with the Steelers.
Tomlin went easier on his team in practice yesterday because they played Monday night. They wore shells, practice was 15 minutes shorter and a host of players were held out: Roethlisberger (right shoulder), safety Troy Polamalu (thigh), linebacker James Harrison (thigh), running back Carey Davis (ankle), defensive end Nick Eason (groin), linebacker Patrick Bailey (hamstring), linebacker Keyaron Fox (back), linebacker Andre Frazier (concussion), and two veterans given the day off, offensive tackle Marvel Smith and wide receiver Hines Ward. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes (neck) was limited in practice.
First up, Stapleton
Darnell Stapleton drew first blood in practice in his competition with Trai Essex to start at right guard and replace injured Kendall Simmons, who is out for the season. This week's starter could be next week's backup, Stapleton said.
"Who said it's not a week-to-week thing? If I'm the starter or Trai's the starter, they [can] continue to evaluate us throughout the season to see who's the best fit at the time. Right now, we're focusing on who's going to be the starter for this week and worry about the rest down the line."