Another MAC QB matchup

<b>PITTSBURGH - </b> Having survived the strong right arm of quarterback Byron Leftwich of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Steelers are looking ahead to another former college hotshot in Chad Pennington of the New York Jets.<br><br>"Oh, another MAC quarterback," said Steelers coach Bill Cowher.

Oh, another MAC quarterback match-up with Ben Roethlisberger.

The Steelers' rookie quarterback came out of Miami, Ohio. Leftwich came out of Marshall. So did Pennington. All three played their college football in the MAC, or the Mid-American Conference.

Pennington was the first MAC golden boy and Roethlisberger it's most recent.

"They're both very good leaders," Cowher said. "That's the thing I look at with those three guys from that division. I don't know if there's a correlation, but they've all come in and they're very humble and they've worked hard. They all have great leadership skills, unique in their own way."

Leftwich has the best arm of the three, but had trouble with his short game during Sunday night's 17-16 loss to the Steelers.

Leftwich completed only 2 of 6 passes for 10 yards in the red zone as the Jaguars settled for three field goals and a miss in their final four red-zone forays.

Pennington, who has never thrown an interception in the red zone in his five years in the league, returned from a 3-game hiatus last week to lead the Jets to a 29-7 win over the Houston Texans. Pennington came back from an injured right rotator cuff to complete 20 of 27 passes for 155 yards and a passer rating of 97.

Roethlisberger had a passer rating of 158.0 out of a possible 158.3 in rallying the Steelers to Sunday night's win over the Jaguars. On the final drive, he completed 3 of 3 passes for 39 yards before spiking the ball to set up Jeff Reed's 37-yard field goal with 23 seconds remaining. Roethlisberger is fourth in the NFL with a passer rating of 103.2.

"He's been solid, played very consistently," said Cowher. "In this business, you're judged by what you can do over an extended period of time, what you can consistently do week in and week out. He welcomes the challenge. He's leading this football team. He doesn't get overwhelmed with any situation he's faced with; he hasn't dwelled on any performances he felt were less than his standards; he's hard on himself, which is always a good quality. I think he'll just get better as he gains experience."

Roethlisberger threw touchdown passes on the Steelers' first two possessions. He threw 37 yards to Hines Ward for one and 26 yards to tight end Jay Riemersma for the other. Riemersma injured his Achilles tendon on the play and was put on injured reserve.

The Steelers replaced Riemersma on Tuesday with 10-year veteran Walter Rasby, whom the Steelers brought into the league in 1994 as a rookie free agent out of Wake Forest. He spent one year with the Steelers and appeared in two games. He's since played with four teams and caught 64 passes for 584 yards and 5 touchdowns.

The 6-foot-3, 252-pound Rasby started six games with the Washington Redskins this season. He caught 5 passes for 52 yards before being released.

"Walter's probably more of a run blocker than a pass catcher, but Walter's a pretty good tight end," Cowher said. "We just didn't want to lose anything from an experience standpoint and it's good to have him out there."

Riemersma was the Steelers' so-called pass-catching tight end opposite Jerame Tuman. Riemersma ends his season with 7 receptions for 82 yards and 2 touchdowns. He joins cornerback Chad Scott (quadriceps muscle) and inside linebacker Kendrell Bell (groin) as Steelers scratches for Sunday's game against the Jets.

Listed as questionable are wide receiver Plaxico Burress (hamstring), defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen (knee) and reserve defensive end Brett Keisel (hamstring).

Scott has missed the last six games and Cowher said he still has trouble cutting, stopping and starting. Without him, the Steelers allow 6.8 yards per pass attempt and an opponent passer rating of 73.8. With Scott, the Steelers allowed 5.8 per attempt and a rating of 67.0.

Bell has missed the last two games and a total of eight this season. Cowher said he's "making progress, but it's slow."

Burress has missed two full games and nearly three quarters of a third after injuring his hamstring at Cincinnati. The Steelers averaged 5.2 yards per offensive snap with Burress and have averaged 4.3 per snap without him.

"He's got to be 100 percent or real close to it for us to put him out on the field," Cowher said of Burress.

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