Game Day Preview

<b>PITTSBURGH - </b> Ben Roethlisberger grew up in Findlay, Ohio, 140 miles north of Cincinnati and 125 miles west of Cleveland.<br><br> Not that it mattered. The Steelers' quarterback didn't like either team. He instead rooted for Joe Montana as a kid.

Today, Roethlisberger can complete the first round of his Ohio games with the efficiency of "Joe Cool" when the Steelers (3-1) host the Cleveland Browns (2-2).

It will be Roethlisberger's first taste of the Turnpike Rivalry, and if it goes anything like his first taste of beating the Cincinnati Bengals, Roethlisberger will be a happy rookie.

"I know I can do better but there's a learning process and I'm trying to take that learning process one step at a time and get as good as I can get every day," was about all Roethlisberger could say about his rookie season. The Browns, though, are excited about facing him.

"I think he's really mature for a rookie quarterback," cornerback Daylon McCutcheon said. "But he doesn't look like a mobile guy to me.

"He's raw but he's very talented," said safety Earl Little. "He looked better last week than Carson Palmer, so I'm looking forward to playing against the guy. Hopefully we can get some picks."

The Browns have allowed plenty of big passing plays, as evidenced by their 12.2-yards-per-completion, but they've only allowed only one passing touchdown this season. The Browns are expected to emphasize stopping the run and force Roethlisberger to beat them, so the Steelers are hoping for a healthy Duce Staley at running back.

Staley's big toe was stepped on by the Bengals last Sunday and he missed practice time this week after having the toenail removed. He expects to play today and try for his first three-game streak of 100-yard rushing games, but the Browns have been stingy against the run. They rank eight in the NFL, allowing an average of 101 rushing yards per game. The Steelers, by comparison, rank 11th and are allowing 106 per game.

"They're strong up front," said Steelers guard Alan Faneca. "Their defensive line is probably the best point of their defense and they move to the ball as good as any front seven."

The Browns will play without Courtney Brown and most likely Gerard Warren. Yet, the Browns have played without them in two games and were stout against the run. They also run the ball well.

Formerly one of the four-wide receiver, spread-the-field kine of offenses that gave the Steelers trouble, the Browns, even after acquiring West Coast quarterback Jeff Garcia, have turned to a power game. And with Lee Suggs back from a neck injury, the Browns have two quality running backs with William Green. The Browns average 4.0 yards per carry compared to the Steelers' average of 3.8 per carry.

"I just think he gives them a dimension," Cowher said of Suggs, who ripped off a 25-yard run on his first carry of the season last week. "He's more of a speed guy than William Green is. You can't underestimate how fast he is in terms of angles you may have to take when he hits a corner. It's not like he bounces it out to try to get outside. He's still a slasher. He's a very explosive kind of guy. William is more of a punishing type of guy."

Green had 17 yards on four carries last week when Suggs entered the game. Green didn't carry again and has sulked this week, but Browns coach Butch Davis, according to Green, has tabbed him as today's starter. Suggs finished last week's game against the top-ranked Washington run defense with 82 yards on 22 carries.

The two runners hope to mirror the success the Bengals' Rudi Johnson had last week when he rushed for 123 yards on 24 carries against the Steelers.

"We were mad after that game. We were upset with each other," said Steelers linebacker Larry Foote. "We usually don't give up 100 yards. It was frustrating."

If the Steelers stop the Browns' running game, they will probably stop the Browns. Garcia hasn't fared well in the new power-running, deep-passing Browns offense. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback has a passer rating of 67.9.

Surprisingly, the rookie from Findlay has far exceeded Garcia's performance. Roethlisberger has a passer rating of 86.2.

"Everyone keeps talking about surprise," said Cowher. "He's our quarterback. I'm not reflecting on what should be or shouldn't be. We need to go out and win football games. We'll talk about everything when all's said and done. He's our guy, and we've got to keep rolling with it and learning from it and growing from it."

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