Cowher Throbs at QB's Thumb Problems

The coach and quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be at odds when it comes Ben Roethlisberger's injury status. It happened last year and it continues to happen this week. See the byplay between coach Bill Cowher and a reporter and get other notes from the Vikings' next opponent.

When it comes to Ben Roethlisberger's injured right thumb, coach Bill Cowher has lost his patience.

Cowher continued to downplay Roethlisberger's injury this week, even though the quarterback has said the thumb on his throwing hand is painful and "pretty bad." It may require surgery after the season.

The NFL's No. 3 passer is listed as probable for the third straight game with the thumb that was injured Nov. 28 in Indianapolis. Despite the injury, Roethlisberger had career highs in attempts (41), completions (29), yards (386), touchdowns (three) and interceptions (three) against the Bengals on Dec. 4, then had a 109.0 passer rating last week against the NFL's No. 1 defense, the Bears, in a Pittsburgh win.

He and the Steelers, who are competing for a wild-card playoff berth, play at Minnesota on Sunday, and Roethlisberger will wear gloves even though the game is indoors. He has to wear them because it's the only way he can get a good grip on the ball with the device he wears that protects his injured thumb.

"My hand will probably sweat a little bit, but we'll make it work," Roethlisberger said.

Cowher got into an argument this week with a Pittsburgh television reporter, who merely asked about the quarterback's thumb injury.

"You got to let that go, man," Cowher said before the question was finished. "You got to let it go, honestly. I'm not going to answer any more about that, really. Let it go. I mean, come on. Talk to (Roethlisberger). I'm not going to talk about it, so don't ask me questions. You can talk to him. You don't have to ..."

As the reporter asked another question, Cowher cut him off, saying, "Let it go!"

"When your quarterback says he can't throw past 40 yards, doesn't that affect the game plan?" the reporter shot back.

Cowher glowered during his live, televised press conference before he said simply, "I answered you."

That sparring session may have had more to do with how the coach and quarterback get along than it did the mere questioning about the thumb. Cowher has been frustrated by Roethlisberger since the QB's rookie season.

It came to a head at the end of last season when Roethlisberger announced that a couple of his toes were broken during Pittsburgh's AFC Championship Game loss to New England. Cowher was adamant that his quarterback was wrong.

"We are unaware of any problems with his toes," Cowher said.

After it became public last spring that Roethlisberger was driving a motorcycle around Pittsburgh without wearing a helmet, Cowher made it known that he advised his quarterback to wear one. Roethlsiberger told the press that he would continue to ride sans helmet.

The relationship between quarterback and coach has not grown closer this season, and some believe Cowher is throwing him under the bus with this latest injury by downplaying it and refusing to say what it is. He has ordered the quarterback not to provide details of the injury, and Roethlisberger has not.

NOTES

  • The Vikings are one of eight NFL teams that coach Bill Cowher has a losing record against. He is 1-2 vs. Minnesota.

  • The Steelers have fumbled eight times in their past two games but lost just one. They've lost just two of their past 12 fumbles.

    "We don't want to have fumbles, we don't want to have turnovers," Cowher said.

  • WR Hines Ward has caught a pass in 116 consecutive games, a Steelers record and fourth among active NFL receivers.

  • RB Jerome Bettis was named AFC Player of the Week after he ran for 100 yards in the second half and scored two touchdowns to lead the Steelers over the Bears 21-9 Sunday.

  • RB Duce Staley again will not dress on Sunday, the ninth game he will miss this season. Staley has 148 yards rushing.

  • TE Heath Miller needs one touchdown reception to give him seven and tie him for third among rookie scorers at his position in NFL history.

  • WR Cedrick Wilson averages 16.9 yards a catch, best on the team, but he has only 22 receptions and he still has not scored a touchdown.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 144 - Yards Willie Parker needs to become the first Steeler to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since Jerome Bettis in 2001.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I like to have everybody being critical of themselves. I think that's the whole purpose." - Coach Bill Cowher


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