Thursdays with Ben:

Ben Roethlisberger meets with reporters every Thursday afternoon before practice. Here's today's transcript:

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Q: Last summer you'd commented on Bill Cowher's prediction about the division. Does that still drive you?

A: I don't even remember what he said. What'd he say?

Q: He said last January that the Bengals would win the division this year.

A: He's a mastermind. Obviously he knew something we didn't know.

Q: Is this game a little bit more important?

A: Any time you play a divisional game it means a little bit more. We want to win every game, but when you're playing in the division there's a little extra motivation.

Q: What are the Bengals doing well defensively of late?

A: Both of their cornerbacks are playing very well. They're also blitzing and doing some different things. They've thrown a couple of different blitzes in that have caused people some problems.

Q: Do you have greater anticipation to beat a team that had beaten you earlier?

A: Any time you lose a game you want to come out and prove that you can beat them, but, I don't know, if you need extra motivation to play any AFC North team there's something wrong with you.

Q: In the previous meeting, the defense took a lot of grief for not closing out the game. Offensively, is there something you'd have liked to have done differently?

A: Yeah, we could've closed the game out. We don't have to put it on the defense. We could've done it on offense. We feel that offensively we left a lot out there. Credit goes to their defense some, but that was early for us and we've improved every week. We're not where we want to be yet, but we keep improving. It's going to be a big test for us, but we're moving in the right direction.

Q: Could you talk about the development of Rashard Mendenhall?

A: He's been playing great, especially last week. He's been running the ball, but more than just his yards and big numbers he's done a good job with blitz pick-up, knowing the offense, communicating with me if he needs help with something. He's just been doing a great job. I'm really proud of the way that he's stepped up and played this week and every week.

Q: He was that closer against Denver to a degree, wasn't he?

A: Yeah, for sure. We got to the point where we needed to run the ball out and we gave him the ball and the line opened up the holes. If there wasn't a hole, he made one.

Q: After the Denver game you said that Chris Kemoeatu was beating himself up after the sack/fumble return and you went and snapped him out of it a little bit. Could you appreciate where he was coming from?

A: Oh, yeah.

Q: How much more assuring is it now that you're able to shake that stuff off?

A: I've always said that's what's special about this group. And it's more than just the fumble and the touchdown for them, it's me getting hit. That probably hurt them more than anything. That's what's special about this group. They don't like me getting hit or hurt, so I just had to smack him around a little bit and tell him everything's going to be OK and to just move on. That's what's good is that these guys can put it behind them and move on. As you can see today, he's put it behind him.

Q: It's necessary for quarterbacks, but when did you feel comfortable being able to chew out your linemen?

A: I don't like to embarrass guys. I don't think I embarrassed him. I just talked to him. I'm not one of those guys you'll see slamming the ball on the field after an offsides or really start screaming at them. They know by my look. Sometimes they joke about that. But for me it's just about being able to step up as that leader. I think last year was kind of the first year that I was really able to do that, or felt comfortable in doing that.

Q: Ben, what does it mean to have your teammates' unrelenting support in what's going on in your personal life?

A: It means a lot. They're my brothers and that's what I expect from them.

Q: Why did you choose recently to talk to ESPN about it?

A: Next question, please.

Q: With five consecutive wins, are you guys feeling pretty good?

A: No, not on offense. Offensively, we have a long way to go. We feel that we're not playing up to our level of expectations – at least I don't think that way. Yeah, we've won five, but really it's about our next game.


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