Wednesdays with Ben

The national media packed the Steelers' locker room Wednesday and Ben Roethlisberger gave his weekly state of the team address.

BEN ROETHLISBERGER, Pittsburgh Steelers

Q: This is the third time you have faced these guys, are there any advantages or disadvantages to that?

A: This is the rubber match. It's good that each of us is 1-1 because it's always tough to play a team three times. We're going to play at their place and it's going to be tough.

Q: But you know you've won there.

A: Yeah we have. But that doesn't mean anything. It's a playoff game and it's a different season. Everyone's going to be out there to play their best football and we have to make sure we play our best football.

Q: How much more comfortable are you heading into these playoffs as opposed to last year?

A: A lot more comfortable. I'm not nearly as worn down as I was last year. Hopefully it will translate into better football.

Q: Carson (Palmer) has never played in the playoffs. Can you talk about the experience of when you were a rookie as compared to Carson now?

A: It is Carson's first playoff game, but he's a better quarterback than I was. So I don't know how much it will affect him. Hopefully our defense will make it really difficult on him. That's the hope and the goal. It was tough for me. I had to make adjustments. I'm sure he'll be able to make adjustments, but hopefully we've got some guys who will make it tough on him.

Q: What was so tough?

A: I was worn down. When you get to that point in the postseason, you have to be on top of your game. I felt like I was falling off the table. The speed was so much faster that the mistakes are magnified. You can't turn the ball over because if you do, they're going to take advantage of it. If you get behind in the playoffs, you may never catch back up.

Q: Were you trying not to make mistakes last year?

A: Absolutely. That's something I have to try not to do this year. Don't play not to make mistakes, just play my game. Play this offense.

Q: What's different for you from last year?

A: It was something different. Last year it was the whole college season and I did all the training for the draft and then coming here. It was two years of non-stop throwing. This year, I got an off-season. I got better rest, took care of my body better. I feel like I'm better prepared.

Q: Was it mental or physical?

A: It was both.

Q: How did the mental part affect you?

A: I was coming off the high of my college finish, the end of my college career, winning all of those games, to getting ready for the draft, coming here, playing the games. Mentally, your brain is fried. I know it sounds crazy to say, but you're trying to learn a new offense. Every week you're putting new plays in. Mentally, I was trying to figure out what was going on. Physically, my arm felt like it was dragging on the floor.

Q: Did that slow you down decision-making wise?

A: I think it did. Like I said, it just made it tough to go out and make the crisp decisions I think I'm making now.

Q: What are the challenges in playing a team a third time?

A: It's a challenge first of all just to play the Cincinnati Bengals. They're a great football team, let alone it being the third time. It'll be tough for us but we have to go out and play our best football.

Q: Can you win a shootout?

A: I would hope so. The last time we played them at home we threw a lot more. I think if we don't turn the ball over then we probably win that game. So if it comes down to it, I think we can.

Q: How do they get so many turnovers?

A: They always take advantage of opportunities. A ball could bounce off a knee, a shoulder, a helmet and they end up catching it for an interception. Their defense always seems to be around the ball and they always seem to make plays.

Q: Did they show you anything different in game two over game one? And will you expect things to be different this time?

A: There's always going to be some changes. I wouldn't say they're going to make a drastic change, but I think they will make some changes, just like we're going to make changes on offense.

Q: How do you play so well on the road?

A: Going into a hostile environment with everyone against you, we know we have to play better. Hopefully we'll be able to play better football when we're on the road because we're going to be on the road the rest of the year.

Q: Do you and Carson have similar styles?

A: Maybe a little bit. I think Carson's a much better quarterback than I am.

Q: Why?

A: Just look at the things he does. That's just my opinion. He does some good things for his team and I think we lean our team in a different way.

Q: How much will having Marvel Smith back help you in a shootout?

A: Without question it's always good to have your offensive line out there. Having Marvel at left tackle, that's your blind side and it's good to have someone out there like that. I know I can count on him when it's time to pass block and picking up blitzes.

Q: (Inaudible).

A: We felt like we've been in a dogfight all year. We've really worked hard for all the things we've accomplished. Nothing's been handed to us. We've had bulls on our chest from day one and we're going to continue to have that. Even though we're underdogs by this situation, people still know we can be a dangerous team, so we have to just come out and do what we do best.

Q: Can you talk about your other receivers, like Heath Miller, besides Hines Ward?

A: It's great having Heath … He opens up the receivers on the outside and he's stretching the field. He has great hands and he's blocking well. Just having him out there really helps a lot. Antwaan (Randle El)'s doing a great job and Cedrick (Wilson) and Quincy (Morgan), guys are really stepping up. They may not be catching 70, 80 balls a year but they're coming up with the two or three big plays you need a game and that's a lot of credit for them.

O: Do you take a lot of stock in the fact you already beat these guys?

A: Not really because it wasn't the playoffs. We know that this is going to be a dogfight. They came to our place and put a smack on us so it's not going to be easy. We have to come to play because we know they're going to come to play.

Q: Does playoff experience matter?

A: I think it definitely matters. It matters for me. I think I'll be better this year than I was last year. I'd like to hope. I always talk about I feel like I can be a better quarterback but just because I feel like I'm more experienced and better doesn't mean I'm going to play better; you'd like to think so. But with Carson as their quarterback, and as good as he is, I don't think their lack of experience will hurt them too much.

Q: What does your team have on the road that other teams don't?

A: I don't know what it is. I think it's the tenacity, the desire, to come out and beat somebody at home. It's a fun feeling to do that. Anytime we can jump on top of someone at home, we like that, and then we start running the ball and use the clock. Hopefully we can get up on these guys. It'd be nice to get a win in Cincinnati.

Q: Where do the hard-core Miami, Ohio fans stand on this game?

A: I don't know. I hope with me, but I don't know. We've converted a lot of Browns fans to Pittsburgh fans, so I think we've got some Cincinnati guys starting to come over, too.

Q: Isn't it fun to win at home?

A: It's fun to win on the road because it's harder; everything's against you on the road. It's always fun to win in front of your home fans because you can celebrate with them and then have fun with them, but winning on the road is tough because you can't hear and you're limited, so it's fun to win on the road, too.


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