Thursday, December 30, 2010
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
As more evidence arrived that there is a new and improved Ben Roethlisberger off the field, the Steelers welcome one big change their quarterback has not made.
He is the same Big Ben on the field as in the past with a bonus tossed in this season, the lowest interception percentage of his career. Roethlisberger has thrown five interceptions, the fewest since he had nine in 2005, his second season. He has not thrown one in his past 136 passes, one of the longest streaks in Steelers history.
"To me that's one of the things that I want to pride myself in is not throwing interceptions," Roethlisberger said. "That to me is the worst thing. I'd rather have 5 percent completions and no interceptions.
"Interceptions drive me crazy. That's something I try to pride myself in. Just make sure I see the throw before I throw it. Sometimes you can't control balls that are tipped, balls go through hands, you can't control those. But the ones I control I want to take pride in not giving that team a chance to score."
Roethlisberger, who missed the first four games while suspended by the NFL for sexual assault allegations made against him in March, has picked up where he left off on the field. He has a strong 94.3 passer rating with 15 touchdowns, a 3-1 ratio to interceptions. He added three more winning drives in the fourth quarter/overtime this season to make it 25 for his career, including two in the postseason.
He has helped guide the Steelers, who have clinched a playoff berth, within a victory Sunday in Cleveland of securing the No. 2 seed in the AFC and a first-week bye in the playoffs.
Wednesday, the Pro Football Writers local chapter gave Roethlisberger "The Chief Award" presented annually to someone in the organization who follows the spirit of cooperation shown the media by franchise founder Art Rooney. He is the first quarterback in the award's 23 years.
It's not an award this quarterback would have won in past years, but he promised to be more forthcoming with his time and his attitude toward those who cover the team, and he did. It was, he said, part of an entirely new outlook he has taken toward people since the situation in Georgia that pitted him against a female college student and the subsequent punishment by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell prompted him to reassess his lifestyle.
"I said I need to be more cooperative with people, be a better person," Roethlisberger said. "As much as people like to joke, you [in the media] are people. And we treat you guys that way. It's just a change I wanted to make in my life and it's towards you guys as well."
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