Steelers Notebook: Roethlisberger cleared to play against Chargers
Ben Roethlisberger went through a full practice yesterday after being medically cleared to play Sunday against the San Diego Chargers at Heinz Field.
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Ben Roethlisberger has received a clean bill of health to practice and play Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.
That does not mean the aftereffects of his Dec. 28 concussion do not linger.
Roethlisberger still has some slight headaches to the point where it pains him to pull on his helmet.
"I had a little bit of a headache from putting the helmet on because it's so tight," Roethlisberger said yesterday. "We'll deal with it and move on."
Some reporters laughed, thinking the quarterback was making a joke, but he was not. He did go through a full practice again yesterday and all systems are go for him to start Sunday.
Since they play on grass, the Steelers are not the greatest show on turf, but they remain the greatest show on Pittsburgh television.
The 15 highest-rated television shows in the local market in 2008 were Steelers games, according to NFL and Nielsen Media Research. The only reason there weren't 16 games is because the Sept. 14 game at Cleveland was not rated because of Hurricane Ike.
Once again, the Steelers led the league with the highest television ratings in their own market. The Steelers drew a 44.5/66 rating/share (percentage of households/percentage of household TVs in use) in 2008, a 5 percent increase over 2007.
Heinz Field has not been the site of a Steelers playoff victory since they beat the New York Jets in overtime after the 2004 season. The Steelers lost the AFC title game the following week. They played all of their 2005 playoff games on the road before their victory in Super Bowl XL. Then, they lost their first playoff game last season.
"I didn't play in that game, but I was definitely heartbroken," said running back Willie Parker, who broke his fibula in the 15th game of the 2007 season. "We worked so hard to get to that point and then it was all over. We have that in the back of our minds. We have to go out there and stay away from that feeling."
San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, under different circumstances, might have been the Steelers' first-round draft choice in 2004 instead of Roethlisberger.
Former coach Bill Cowher, like Rivers a North Carolina State product, has said he preferred Roethlisberger, but no one will ever know because Rivers was drafted before the Steelers had a chance.
Rivers led the NFL with a passer rating of 105.5 this season, near what Roethlisberger had last season when he set his team's record of 104.1. This will be their third meeting. Roethlisberger beat San Diego in 2005, but Rivers did not play in that game. Rivers beat the Steelers in '06 and Roethlisberger beat the Chargers the past season. So they are 1-1 against each other, the rubber game coming up Sunday.
"I think Ben has been a heck of a player in this league ever since he got there," Rivers said yesterday. "I think one way that you measure quarterbacks and see how successful they are is winning football games and that is something, obviously, that he has led Pittsburgh and those teams that win each and every year. I think that says a lot about him as a player and as a competitor and he has done nothing but that this year."
Three Chargers did not practice yesterday, two because of injury -- tight end Antonio Gates (ankle) and running back LaDainian Tomlinson (groin). Defensive tackle Jamal Williams was held out of practice, but not because of injury. ... Hines Ward needs 12 yards receiving to pass Lynn Swann (907) and 159 to pass John Stallworth (1,054) to become the team's career postseason receiver leader.
First Published January 8, 2009 12:00 am