Notebook: Ben eyeing sweep

<b>PITTSBURGH - </b> With a win today, Steelers rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will complete a four-game sweep of his home state of Ohio.

But if the Findlay native -- who schooled in Miami, 40 miles north of Cincinnati -- has post-game plans, he's not making them known to anyone else. It's part of the focus that's allowed Roethlisberger to win his first seven games as a rookie quarterback, a modern NFL record.

"Hopefully I'll see my friends and (former) coach after the game," Roethlisberger said. "But my main focus is this football game. I'm taking it one game at a time and this is next on our list."

He admitted he'll have more friends and family members at the game than the 18 who went to Cleveland to see him play last Sunday. And most times, coach Bill Cowher gives the Steelers off on Mondays following a win. So will Roethlisberger stay over Sunday night?

"I have no idea yet," he said. "I haven't even thought about it. Like I said, I'm going a step at a time, and that game will be before the night, Sunday night, so we'll see what happens."

Roethlisberger is taking it one minute at a time these days. What about the proverbial rookie wall?

"So far so good," he said. "I talk a lot with (co-agent and former quarterback) Warren Moon. He gives me advice about every week about what to do to try and prevent that rookie wall, and I'm doing everything I can. We played 14 games last year, which is a lot for a college team. I don't know if that will fully prepare you, but I think it helps a little bit. So I'm just going to keep trying to go strong, make sure I get good rest, take vitamins, eat right and try to keep my mind and body going as long as I can."

What about Cleveland? Did the Browns do anything different last game?

"I don't know. I don't remember that game anymore," he said. "I'm focused on Cincinnati."

So what do the Bengals look like?

"I think they have guys a little healthier," Roethlisberger said. "That always helps when you have your starters in there. So yes they do look faster. They look like a better defense all around. It's definitely going to be a challenge for us."


Jerome Bettis, with 12,734 career rushing yards, needs just 6 to pass Tony Dorsett for fifth place on the NFL's all-time list. Bettis is 525 yards behind No. 4 Eric Dickerson.

"Whenever you can pass a Hall of Fame guy like Tony Dorsett, from Pittsburgh, from the area, just to go by a guy like that is an honor because whenever they mention your name with a guy like his it's special," said Bettis.

However, another local runner is lurking. Curtis Martin, of Allderdice High and Pitt, is 81 yards behind Bettis and still running strong.

"Oh, he's going to pass me," Bettis said. "That's inevitable, so that's not really an issue at all. I know he's coming."


The Steelers are currently the NFL's top-ranked defense, in terms of fewest yards allowed per game (257.9), but it's something against which the Bengals have had success.

Today's game will mark the third time in five games the Bengals have faced the No. 1 defense. Last week they beat the Washington Redskins, 17-10, and on Oct. 25, they beat the Denver Broncos, 23-10.


Alonzo Jackson didn't have a problem dealing with last Sunday's twist of fate that caused him to miss what would've been his first career start.

The second-round pick in 2003, Jackson had been deactivated just before starting linebacker Joey Porter was ejected for spitting and fighting in warm-up drills. Cowher admitted Jackson would've started instead of special-teamer James Harrison had the ejection occurred earlier that morning.

"It would've been an opportunity for me, but James stepped in for me and did well," Jackson said. "I wish I would've been dressed out so that would've been my opportunity to step in and really show up. I think I could've done well."

How did it make him feel?

"It's frustrating," he said. "But, you've got to play the hand you're dealt. I'm just behind my teammates 100 percent and we're having a great time - a GREAT time - winning."

That afternoon, Jackson had been congratulated loudly and repeatedly by James Farrior for his one-on-one coverage of Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El in supposed match-up mismatches for the offense.

"I think I'm doing real well out there now," Jackson said. "And I'm helping the offense get better. … I have faith that hard work pays off and I work hard every day I come in. I'm in early; I leave late. Hard work pays off so I'll keep working hard."

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