On the Steelers: Lemieux says Roethlisberger looks 'like a hockey player'
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger gestures to his teammate during practice at the team's South Side facility Wednesday.
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Ben Roethlisberger walked through the locker room wearing a boot on his broken right foot and tape over his broken nose.
"Mario Lemieux told me I finally look like a hockey player," the Steelers' quarterback said, managing a slight laugh.
Nevertheless Roethlisberger took his regular turns on the practice field with his teammates Wednesday, wearing a protective face shield for the first time in his football career, and he will don it for the Sunday game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"We're going to get some practice [with it] so we'll see," Roethlisberger said. "I saw the early forecast is rain, snow, so it'll be fun I'm sure."
What cannot be fun for Roethlisberger is all the abuse he is taking on and off the field this season.
Roethlisberger had a brief talk with referee Terry McAulay Sunday night in Baltimore after Haloti Ngata smacked him in the head with his left hand, breaking his nose.
There was no penalty flag tossed on Ngata, but the league fined the Ravens' defensive lineman $15,000 Monday for the hit it called illegal.
"I just asked him if he saw the blood and just kind of asked him -- I'm not one that cusses at the refs or anything -- so I just asked him if he thought that he went for my head," Roethlisberger said.
"His response was, 'He was just trying to tackle you.' So I just let it go at that."
He also pretty much let go continued comments by Cincinnati wide receiver Terrell Owens questioning Roethlisberger's toughness.
Owens wrote on Twitter this week: "i've played w/2 screws & a plate n my ankle and a broken leg! And tht ws a severe injury! A broken nose??? Puh-lease! Lmao! "
Previously, Owens called the quarterback "soft" on his Versus network television show shortly after Oakland's Richard Seymour decked Roethlisberger with a sucker punch after a play Nov. 21 in Heinz Field.
"A hockey player would have took that, kept on ticking," Owens said. "That shows you how soft Ben is."
Said the hockey-player-looking Roethlisberger Wednesday, "I'm glad I could get ratings for him."
But it's no joke what the quarterback has had to endure. Not one opposing player has been penalized for roughing the passer against Roethlisberger this season, although it continues to happen and did so on two other occasions in Baltimore besides Ngata's hit. Seymour was tossed out of the game when he hit him after the play ended, a touchdown pass.
Through it all, Roethlisberger has not missed a snap since returning from his suspension, which included playing with that broken nose Sunday night that affected his "breathing, vision -- blood running down my mouth, throat and face the whole game. Things like that," he said.
On why he can continue to play so well while injured, "I guess I'm soft or something, I don't know. I just want to play the game. There wasn't any question if I was going back in. Just like today and practice, I asked the trainers, is there any chance this getting worse if I practice today, and they said no. And I said then I'm practicing.
"I just want to win games and try to win championships."
The good news is that nothing from the repair of his face after his motorcycle accident in June 2006 was redamaged, that his head feels fine, and he said his foot feels better.
"It was just my nose," Roethlisberger said. "[The surgeon] said he got in there and he said the nose bones looked like cornflakes. I was like, oh, that's good. The plates and everything in my face were fine, so that's good."
Mike Wallace needs 132 yards to become the 10th Steelers receiver to hit 1,000 yards, but it will be way short of the goal he set before the start of the season.
"Really, it was 1,500," Wallace said. "I set the goals high; that's how I play and how I prepare. It's going to be kind of hard to get that, but that's how I do it. If I can't reach it, I'll just work hard at it next year.
"I don't just set it at 1,000. Guys get 1,000 all the time."
Well, not all the time, particularly with the Steelers, who have a history of favoring the run over the pass. Hines Ward has done it six times, John Stallworth three, and no one else has done it more than twice. Those with two seasons with 1,000 yards receiving were Plaxico Burress, Buddy Dial, Roy Jefferson and Yancey Thigpen. Those who reached 1,000 once with the Steelers were Santonio Holmes, Louis Lipps and Charles Johnson.
Thigpen holds the team record with 1,398 yards in 1997.
Wallace can do something else that has not been done since 1998 -- someone besides Ward having sole leadership in receptions with the Steelers. Ward has led them (tied once, 1999) in receptions in each of the past 11 seasons.
Ward and Wallace are tied with 41 catches apiece and Wallace has become the go-to receiver this season; he has been the target on 69 passes and Ward 65.
"That's crazy," Wallace said, when informed of him possibly ending Ward's streak. "I'm pretty sure Hines is going to end up beating me. He's a competitor. He always going to come through for us in the clutch.
"He'll have about 25 more catches and have 65-70 at the end of the year."
• Heath Miller, Troy Polamalu and Flozell Adams did not practice.
• Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, a Fort Cherry High grad who coached at Pitt and with the Steelers, on if he would be interested in the Pitt job: "Let's move on."
• Lewis, in the final year of his contract, also was asked on a conference call to Pittsburgh if he wanted to keep it.
"Mike [Brown, Bengals owner] and I will come to an arrangement and, when we come to that arrangement, everyone will know about it, regarding the future of the football team here. It has not been something I have focused much at all on during the season and it is not a thing I am comfortable with talking about, my own situations."
First Published December 9, 2010 12:00 am