Steelers Pregame Focus: This game is about that "other" quarterback on the field

Andy Lyons

Lavishing another with praise is the one sure way to encourage an established Alpha Dog to remind everyone why he's been one of the best in the game.

Let's cut through the noise.

This game is about ego. It's about alpha dogs. It's about ownership of certain titles - both physical and verbal - and the players able to win and possess those titles.

During Ben Roethlisberger's rookie season, when he was amid an unprecedented winning streak for a rookie quarterback, the media asked Tom Brady what they thought of the kid turning the league - and years of history that suggested rookie quarterbacks don't win - on its head.

To paraphrase him, Brady's response was respectful, if not a bit glass-chewing. He said something along the lines of he's doing a great job, he's won x games in a row, there's a lot I can learn from him.

I never could buy that Brady didn't want to rip the kid's head off and put him in his place.

Roethlisberger has been outstanding this season, and he hasn't played at the lights-out level he could have the last two games. Playing in front of his fans - in those stupid uniforms - he's going to want to remind the league the quarterback position was played at a high level in this league before Robert Griffin III was drafted .With all due respect to him, the veterans aren't going to just go away.

Last week, Twitter exploded with the annoying catch-phrase "RGIII 4 MVP" when the Redskins found a way to get a late touchdown on the Giants. Eli Manning hit Victor Cruz on an equally long touchdown pass a few plays later, and after a Santana Moss fumble, the Giants closed the upstart Redskins out.

Ya think Ben wants even one ounce less of anything Eli has? He's not going to let a rookie outshine him, just like Brady didn't (crushing Ben in their re-match in the 2004 AFC Championship).

This game has been made out to be about Washington's offense, who have shown in seven games they can score points and gain yards, yet, put up a 3-4 record. The Steelers have probably left more points on the field than they've scored so far, also showing a troubling level of execution failure.

This is the kind of game where Roethlisberger's alpha dog comes out to eat. This is the kind of game where proud guys like Ryan Clark - someone who is certainly happy to have ended up in Pittsburgh - would like to remind everyone it was a mistake to let him walk out of Washington in 2006.

By the end of it, this will be a reminder that seven games does not make a season, and the confusing looks the Steelers will provide the rookie quarterback with his toughest test of the year.

And on the other side of the ball? All Roethlisberger needs is a reason to put up 27-for-35, 340 yards and three touchdowns.


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