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Roethlisberger's impact goes beyond statistics

| Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009

It was a fight that not many would be able to stop.

But into the middle of Chris Kemoeatu wrestling with all 344 pounds of himself stepped Ben Roethlisberger on Monday night. And following the missed block that got Roethlisberger crushed -- the mistake also resulted in a lost fumble and Broncos touchdown -- the Steelers' quarterback essentially ordered his left guard to forget about it.

"I always have a hard time moving on to the next play, especially when our dude back there gets hit," Kemoeatu said. "I think that helped me bounce back and make up for it."

Roethlisberger's impact on the Steelers goes beyond the gaudy statistics he has piled up through the first half of the season. It is also evident in the touch he has shown in lifting teammates like Kemoeatu while guiding the Steelers to a 6-2 record.

Shortly after his pep talk to Kemoeatu, Roethlisberger led the Steelers on a four-play, 80-yard drive. Kemoeatu threw a block that helped spring Rashard Mendenhall for a 24-yard gain on the drive that produced the go-ahead touchdown.

Roethlisberger had earlier taken the same approach with Mike Wallace as he did with Kemoeatu.

When Wallace didn't work his way back to the ball on a third-down pass near the end of the first quarter, Roethlisberger, firm but encouraging, pointed out the rookie wideout's mistake. He also followed through on his promise to keep throwing Wallace's way.

As a result, the two hooked up for completions on a trio of third downs, including one for a 25-yard touchdown with seven minutes left in the game. That allowed the Steelers to open up a double-digit lead over Denver, and they rolled to a 28-10 win.

The victory wasn't just a testament to Roethlisberger's accuracy -- he is tied with Peyton Manning for the NFL lead in completion percentage (70.6) -- but also his comfort level in speaking out.

In being a leader.

"I think it's to the point now where I can go say something to (teammates)," said Roethlisberger, adding he was reluctant to do so as a younger player on a veteran-laden team. "Now I feel like if I need to chew someone, out I'll do it because I hold those guys to high expectations just like I hold myself to it."

Tongue lashings are not quite Roethlisberger's style. The six-year veteran is more inclined to motivate teammates by showing confidence in them.

"No one needs to be embarrassed," said Roethlisberger, who is on pace to throw for more than 4,000 yards this season. "If I throw an interception, there's nothing we can do about it now. We learn from it, we go on. That's the mentality I try to instill in them."

The response he has gotten from his teammates affirms that his approach is working -- and that the youngest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl has taken another step in his development.

"You're not going to come in as a rookie and be a leader over Jerome Bettis and Hines Ward, it's not going to happen," said starting left tackle Max Starks, who was in the same draft class as Roethlisberger, "but you earn your stripes, you earn you stars, and he is the leader on this team."

Tomlin's take

From Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's weekly news conference:

On the importance of winning at Denver :

"That was a big win for our football team, something that's absolutely necessary. You've got to be able to go on the road and win games against quality opponents. That's something we hadn't done, until (Monday) night."

On what the Steelers have to do to be successful against Cincinnati :

"A knee-jerk reaction is to just be prepared to play 60-plus minutes of football, which of course is what we did not do last time."

On the Cincinnati Bengals' improved defense :

"I think the young corner tandem is playing pretty well. Leon Hall and (Johnathan) Joseph, I think they have four picks apiece. Aside from the interceptions, they've both been rock-solid in coverage. That's allowed them to keep a bunch of people in and around the box."

On Bengals running back Cedric Benson :

"We've got to do a good job of tackling Cedric Benson. This guy is running with a mission. He ran through Baltimore pretty good the other day, and that's not something you hear said too often. He's very durable, tough, great pad level, and they're feeding him and feeding him well."

On how wide receiver Chris Henry's injury will affect the Bengals' passing game :

"They're getting contributions from a lot of people: Laveranues Coles. (Andre) Caldwell. (Chad) Ochocinco is one of the top guys in the league, in terms of catches and yards. He's scoring touchdowns for them. They're not going to have a shortage of potential targets for Carson Palmer. They've got a high-round draft pick in Jerome Simpson from Coastal Carolina. ... Carson's going to have somebody to throw to."

On opponents having to prepare for Steelers rookie wide receiver Mike Wallace :

"I think they're still committed to taking away Hines (Ward) on third down and not letting Santonio (Holmes) get over top. He's still earning his stripes. His reputation doesn't precede him. He's got some Super Bowl MVPs that he plays with. He's got a rock-solid veteran tight end that he plays with. I would imagine he's down the to-do list with a lot of people we play. But he is making plays when given the opportunity."

Home-field advantage?

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has not been dominant in five career starts against the Bengals at Heinz Field. Here is how Roethlisberger has fared at home against the Bengals, who visit the Steelers Sunday:

Year - Result - Comp - Att - Yds - Long - TD - INT - Rating

2008 - W, 27-10 - 17 - 30 - 243 - 37 - 1 - 0 - 94.2

2007 - W, 24-10 - 21 - 32 - 184 - 19 - 2 - 2 - 75.5

2006 - L, 28-20 - 18 - 39 - 208 - 36 - 0 - 3 - 30.7

2005 - L, 38-31 - 9 - 14 - 93 - 21 - 2 - 1 - 93.2

2004 - W, 28-17 - 17 - 25 - 174 - 30 - 1 - 0 - 101.1

Top five

� Saints : Their next two games are against teams with two wins combined.

� Colts : Decimated secondary hasn't caught up with Indy -- yet.

� Steelers : 18-point win at Denver may have been their most impressive victory yet.

� Vikings : Bye week didn't stop them from increasing their lead in NFC North.

� Bengals : Halfway to making Chad Ochocinco's 12-4 prediction come true.

Bottom five

� Buccaneers : Rookie quarterback Josh Freeman shines in 38-28 win over Packers.

� Rams : What will the line be for their game against the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday•

� Browns : Coach Eric Mangini is one (season and possibly wins) and done in Cleveland.

� Lions : Memo to rookie QB Matthew Stafford: get the ball to WR Calvin Johnson.

� Chiefs : They at least addressed one of many problems by dumping RB Larry Johnson.

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