Roethlisberger admits to chip

Ben Roethlisberger was snubbed once by the Cleveland Browns. Read below to see how he's paying them back.

PITTSBURGH – The last time Ben Roethlisberger walked off a football field in the state of Ohio, he had his perfect NFL record intact.

Was he aware of his 9-0 record in Ohio?

"A little bit," he said last October. "They tried to bring it up in the TV production meeting and I wouldn't let them talk about it. I don't even want to talk about it now."

Roethlisberger didn't want to talk about it then, after beating the Cincinnati Bengals, but he talked about it Wednesday, four days before the Steelers are scheduled back in Ohio for a Sunday night game against the Cleveland Browns.

"My friends won't let me live it down if I don't win in that state," he said. "It's just something about going home and trying to win at home. And there's a little something added for Cleveland, because I think they had a pick higher than 11 when I was drafted."

Roethlisberger, of Findlay in Northwest Ohio, was told by the Browns they would draft him in 2004. But they instead traded up one spot to No. 6 and drafted tight end Kellen Winslow. Roethlisberger, of course, slipped to No. 11 and the Steelers snapped him up. Since then, he's 7-0 against the Browns and 4-0 at Cleveland Stadium, where the average Roethlisberger win has been by a 31-9 margin.

"You do a few extra steps to win in your home state," he said.

Part chip, part home state pride, Roethlisberger is looking to put a stake through the heart of the Browns in only the second week of the 2008 season. The Browns were embarrassed last week by the Dallas Cowboys at home, and are a touchdown underdog to fall to the 1-0 Steelers this week.

The Browns have a patchwork secondary and yesterday lost strong safety Sean Jones to knee surgery. They hoped their luck had changed later in the afternoon when Roethlisberger missed practice with a sore right shoulder; however, the Steelers' quarterback expects to practice today and be at full strength Sunday night.

"I can't do anything too crazy too early," Roethlisberger said. "Wednesday is kind of the day for veteran guys to get a breather and some rest."

Roethlisberger hurt the shoulder when he was sacked by Mario Williams of the Texans. He fumbled, but Roethlisberger returned to the game – even though he took a shot in the knee from Amobi Okoye right before the half and limped to the locker room.

On Wednesday, only the shoulder bothered him as he roamed the practice field without any discernible limp

"He about broke my arm when he caused the fumble," Roethlisberger said. "I really thought he snapped my arm. My arm was still attached to the football and he was holding my arm. He's a big man."

Williams had another sack, but was the only Texan to get to Roethlisberger, who threw several quick passes, and all but one – a "throwaway" – were caught. He completed 13 of 14 for 137 yards and two touchdowns. His 17-yard scramble was the key play of the first touchdown drive, so Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin isn't about to reign Roethlisberger in for safety reasons.

"It kind of comes with the territory," Tomlin said. "This guy plays and plays to win. He's a competitor and some of the things that allow him to make splash plays also put him in harm's way. But that's who he is, and I'm sure, to a degree, some of the great ones have had characteristics in their playing personalities that put them in harm's way, guys like (Brett) Favre and so forth.

"It's tough to talk about his toughness without talking about his competitive spirit. He's a top-flight competitor. He plays to win. He's big, strong and mobile, has a bunch of physical talents, but his mental approach to the game and competing, I think, are what makes him who he is."

By his own admission, Roethlisberger is a guy who hates to lose – particularly in his home state.


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