Roethlisberger will have the opportunity to show his old fans just how much he's grown on Sunday when the Steelers host the Cincinnati Bengals. Roethlisberger knows many of them will be watching.
"A lot of people from where I'm from are Cincinnati fans, so it'll be kind of nice to beat Cincinnati, that way people can't talk too much trash to me on the outside," said Roethlisberger. "But the fact it's a division game means more to me than the fact we're playing Cincinnati."
The Miami campus is located 40 miles north of Cincinnati. Roethlisberger's hometown of Findlay is nearly 100 miles further north.
Regardless of the distance, Cincinnati football fans know plenty about Roethlisberger, the record-setting quarterback who guided the Miami Red Hawks to a 13-1 record and a No. 10 national ranking last year.
"Everybody's going to be watching, so you want to do well," said the Steelers rookie. "But I'd much rather have the worst game of my life and win, than have the best game and lose."
Roethlisberger's play was somewhere in between his best and worst in his first start Sunday in Miami, Fla.
Considering he played against a quality defense in the aftermath of Hurricane Jeanne, Roethlisberger's 74.6 passer rating was good enough to win, and that's all he cared about. He went into depth about the highlights of his first start.
Were you more nervous than usual?
"To tell you the truth I wasn't as nervous as I thought I'd be, especially after that first pass I threw, which was a pretty good one. It hit (Patrick) Surtain right in the chest. But, no, I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be."
What was your reaction to the interception?
"I just laughed at myself. There was nothing I could do but laugh. I couldn't take it back. You just laugh at it, shake it off, put it behind you and learn."
You seem to play well in bad weather. Do you like it?
"I don't like it but I guess I can play in it. Last year in Miami I played in 50 mile-an-hour winds. I played in snow, rain, mud, pretty much everything. Quarterback is probably the one position where the players hate the elements the most. Now, I'm not going to say I like it, but I guess I can play in it."
What was your reaction to the game-clinching touchdown pass to Hines Ward?
"That goes on Hines. He made a phenomenal catch. That may have been one of the greatest catches of all time, and people probably don't realize how great of a catch it was. He dove and caught it less than a foot off the ground. He's got a guy all over him, in a hurricane, it's a wet ball, he's wet and he catches it on the sideline. It was a phenomenal play. I just had to put it close to him. I ran straight over to him and I think I broke his neck. That's the most excited I've ever been after a touchdown. My sophomore year at Miami I threw a 73-yard Hail Mary to win a game, and I was still more excited about Hines' catch. I don't know why but I just wanted to go over and tackle him. It was a phenomenal play."
Has this week been different for you?
"Not really. I just have to maintain the focus. We want to win two in a row. It's something that hasn't been done here in awhile. That's the goal right now, to win this game."
Said Ward: "He has great poise. It seems like nothing rattles him. He has a lot of composure in the huddle and when he makes a bad throw he's the first one to say, 'my bad, my bad.' Nothing seemed to rattle him in that game, through those weather conditions. He was just out there having fun playing out in the mud. I kind of think he wanted to hit the mud a couple times."
Hit the mud?
"Yeah. He wanted to dive in it I think. He was geeked in the huddle, like 'Ah, man, look at all this rain.'"
When Ward was told Roethlisberger didn't particularly like bad weather, he laughed.
"You couldn't tell out there on the field. I think he might've been just in awe of his first game. He was having fun and making the most of it."
Ben looks back to Miami, and Miami
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