Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t exactly have a Super Bowl to remember three years ago in Detroit. Going 9-for-21 for 123 yards with two interceptions usually does more to cost your team a win than contribute. But it was that fateful day that the Steelers were able to win in spite of Roethlisberger’s efforts, not because of them.
Fast forward to 2009, and the Steelers are back in the dance, and this time the focus again will be on Roethlisberger, a player that has taken a beating all year long, but like the Energizer bunny, he just keeps on ticking. Despite being sacked a league high 46 times in the regular season, and five more times in the playoffs, Roethlisberger seems confident and ready to lead his team to an NFL record sixth NFL title with a win over Arizona on Sunday.
“Being a captain this time around, it’s different. The first time, my play didn’t help the team to win. It almost helped us lose it. This time, I’m not going to say it’s all on my shoulders,” Roethlisberger said Monday in Tampa. “If I turn the ball over and play poorly, it’s not going to help our offense, and it’s not going to win this game.”
Roethlisberger threw 15 picks this season, and 17 touchdowns. But he has been better in the second half of the season, as over the course of the teams last nine games, two playoffs games included, he threw just four picks and nine touchdowns, and the team was 8-1 in those games.
“It’s all about winning the football game. I don’t care how I do it – if I throw for 300 yards or 100 yards. If we win the game, that’s all that matters to me,” the QB said. “Of course, I do want to play better than I did last time because I felt like I let the guys down and I didn’t help them win the game. To me, it’s about promises and trying to win another one.”
A big key to Roethlisberger’s game will be the status of his favorite wide out – Hines Ward. The all-time leading Steelers wide out in catches and yards sprained his MCL in the first quarter of the AFC Title game vs the Ravens, but says he’ll play. Roethlisberger seems to also have the belief that Ward will take the field, and he’ll be able to play the level he did in the last Steelers Super Bowl when he was the MVP.
“Whether it’s keeping a drive going, or making a big block, or just his leadership, he means a lot to the offense,” Roethlisberger said. He knows that this time around in the big game, a lot more than even before will be expected of him, and he feels that this time he’ll put the poor game against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL behind him and have a much better go around the second time around.
“I expect it to be different this time. I’m going to go into it and treat it like it’s just another football game and go out and have fun,” he said. “I’m going to treat it like it might be my last. I’ve been here before, and I kind of understand what went right and what went wrong last time. Just being in my fifth year now instead of my second year, and knowing how to deal with the media, the fans and everything that goes along with being a quarterback.”