Roethlisberger takes in good advice

PITTSBURGH – Ben Roethlisberger will be the second-youngest quarterback to ever start a Super Bowl, and if he puts up the numbers he's averaged throughout three playoff games this year Roethlisberger will be the second-greatest quarterback in NFL playoff history.

That's what the numbers say about the Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback.

Roethlisberger right now has a post-season career passer rating of 97.6, which places him second to Bart Starr (104.8) and just ahead of his hero, Joe Montana (95.6).

However, Roethlisberger doesn't have enough attempts to qualify for the record books quite yet. If he puts up the numbers he's averaged in these playoffs (24-16-227, 2 TDs, 0 ints.), Roethlisberger will have a passer rating of 101.9. His completion percentage would be 64 percent, putting him third in that department behind Kenny Anderson (66.3) and Warren Moon (64.3).

Of course, by putting up those numbers in the Super Bowl, Roethlisberger would likely be holding up a trophy afterwards, something the youngest QB to ever play in a Super Bowl failed to accomplish – that year or any year.

That quarterback, Dan Marino, talked to Roethlisberger about it. Roethlisberger relayed the gist of the conversation to reporters:

"He said, "Listen, enjoy this. You're young. You're doing the same thing I did. You think no matter what happens, you're going to get back. But it doesn't necessarily happen like that. On one hand enjoy it and have a good time, but take it serious enough to win it because you never know when it's going to happen again.'"

Roethlisberger is taking it seriously, but he's also enjoying it. He was as relaxed talking to a mob of reporters yesterday as he's been all season. His ego hasn't gotten any bigger, but the mob around him has. It's to be expected for a quarterback on a tear.

Roethlisberger's passer rating in these three playoff games is 124.8, or high enough to bring last year's woeful numbers (61.3) up into the strata of playoff legends such as Starr and Montana.

Roethlisberger explained that last year's numbers weren't the result of anything the New England Patriots or New York Jets did.

"I hadn't lost a game and I was a little overconfident last year," he said. "This year, I understand where I'm at and where we're at as a team. I think I'm better prepared in this situation."

And he's not a rookie any more, so there isn't a "rookie wall" to smack into.

"I'm not as tired," he said. "I saw some guys interviewing Heath (Miller) and he looked like he was ready to fall asleep. That's how I was last year. This year, I feel a lot more comfortable, a lot better. I think my play has reflected that."

Against Denver, Roethlisberger completed 72.4 percent of his passes. It ranks third in team history behind Mike Kruczek (83.3 percent in 1976) and Roethlisberger's own 73.7 completion percentage three weeks ago at Cincinnati. His torrid streak has put the Steelers into the Super Bowl, which they haven't won in 26 years. Roethlisberger was born three years after that last championship.

"My buddy from college called me – James Cooper – and we sat there and talked for an hour or two," Roethlisberger said. "The first 10 minutes all he kept saying was, ‘You're going to the Super Bowl. Do you know you're going to the Super Bowl?' I said, ‘I know.'

"It was bizarre because when you're a kid, you don't talk about playing in the national championship game or the AFC Championship game, you talk about playing in the Super Bowl. That's when it kind of started sinking in, when I was talking to him. Every kid dreams of doing this and I'm getting an opportunity to live the dream."

One of Roethlisberger's next phone conversations was with Marino, who lost a Super Bowl at the age of 23. He was younger by 213 days than Roethlisberger will be on Super Bowl Sunday. "He just talked about staying level-headed and to make sure I have fun," Roethlisberger said. "But he also wanted to make sure I don't take it for granted."

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