Cook: Passing records? MVP? Roethlisberger just wants Super Bowl rings
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Amid the frightful images of Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed in Ben Roethlisberger's mind this week there is this happy thought:
"My agent is always passing on little things to me to give me a little extra motivation," Big Ben was saying the other day during a private moment in his corner of the Steelers' locker room. "He told me there's no one left in the playoffs this year who can catch me, but that I can still catch someone. I like that."
We're talking Super Bowls here. Roethlisberger won two in his first six seasons with the Steelers, making him one of just 10 quarterbacks in the 44-year history of the Super Bowl with multiple titles. Should he and the team make it three next month in Dallas at Super Bowl XLV, he would equal former Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer Troy Aikman and the man he considers the NFL's best, the New England Patriots' Tom Brady. A little extra motivation? How about a lot?
"I might never win the passing title or be the league MVP," Roethlisberger said. "But I'm OK with that. I just want to win championships. I've got a lot of fingers left for rings and I want to win a lot more championships. When I'm done and they look back on my career, I want them to be able to say he won the big games. That will mean more to me than anything."
Roethlisberger will play in another of those big games Saturday when the Steelers meet the Ravens at Heinz Field. With all due respect to the Steelers' great defense, he's the No. 1 reason to like the home team. He and Brady are the best big-game quarterbacks of this generation.
"I love this time of year," Roethlisberger said. "All eyes are on you. It's win or go home, obviously. I welcome that. I relish that. I want the ball in my hands when the game's on the line."
The most recent pass Roethlisberger threw in a postseason game won Super Bowl XLIII after the 2008 season. It came at the end of an eight-play, 78-yard drive -- 88 yards if you account for a holding penalty against guard Chris Kemoeatu that left the Steelers facing first and 20 at their 12-- that was absolutely Elwayesque. His 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds left beat the Arizona Cardinals, 27-23.
"That's hard to fathom unless you've actually done it," Roethlisberger said. "That's something you dream about as a boy, driving your team down the field to win the big game. It's what you live for as a player. It's not like we ran it in. We threw it all the way down the field. That last one was a tough throw. It also was a great catch by 'Tone."
Roethlisberger is 8-2 as a postseason quarterback. The losses were to Brady and New England in the AFC championship game after his rookie season in 2004 "when I didn't know what to expect and played horrendously" and to Jacksonville after the 2007 season. Roethlisberger also is 8-2 against the Ravens and has beaten them six consecutive times. One of those wins came in the AFC championship game at Heinz Field after the 2008 season, a night when he hit Holmes with a 65-yard touchdown pass to give the Steelers a 13-0 lead on their way to a 23-14 victory.
Roethlisberger has plenty of good memories of beating the Ravens. There was the game in Baltimore last month when, playing on a broken foot and after getting his nose broken early in the first quarter by a shot from defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, he hit running back Isaac Redman for the winning 9-yard touchdown pass with 2:51 left. There was the game in Baltimore in 2008 when he found Holmes for the winning 4-yard touchdown with 43 seconds remaining. There was the game in Pittsburgh in 2007 when he threw five touchdown passes in the first half and finished with a perfect 158.3 passer rating.
"I guess the one that stands out is the pass to 'Tone down there," Roethlisberger said. "We started that drive inside our 10, if I remember right. To do that against that defense in that stadium with everything that was at stake ... "
Just about all of Pittsburgh is counting on Roethlisberger to provide more wonderful memories Saturday. I'm guessing he will show up for the 4:30 p.m. kickoff even if he said he would prefer not to play the Ravens "because they're that good." Certainly, his teammates are depending on him. They have great respect for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, but they think Roethlisberger gives them an edge at the most important position. They are right.
"I've seen and heard a few of the guys say, 'In 7 We Trust,' " Roethlisberger said. "That's an unbelievable honor. I don't take that for granted. But I do take that pressure. I want to be that guy for this team. I want to win for my teammates."
It has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
In 7 We Trust ...
I can't think of a quarterback I'd trust more this time of year.
First Published January 14, 2011 12:00 am