Roethlisberger eager for Colts as player, fan

Associated Press
Published November 28, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS - When Ben Roethlisberger visits the RCA Dome for the first time tonight, he'll glimpse at Peyton Manning and try to steal a few tips. It'll be one of the few times in Roethlisberger's 11/2 NFL seasons he has played the role of fan.

"I'm excited to watch Peyton in person, I think it will be fun," Roethlisberger said.

How much Roethlisberger enjoys the show will depend on three things: how well he plays after missing three games, how well Manning performs and whether the Steelers can become the first team to knock off the unbeaten Colts.

The Colts offense seems nearly unstoppable.

Manning has regained his two-time MVP form. He has topped 300 yards in two of the past three games, thrown 18 touchdowns in the past seven and rapidly has ascended the league-leading charts in touchdowns and passer rating.

The Colts also have the AFC's top rusher in Edgerrin James (1,116 yards) and two of the top three receivers. Indianapolis has scored at least 31 in five straight games.

That kind of production worries Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher.

"I think what we're playing is a very confident team. They're unbeaten for a reason," Cowher said.

Roethlisberger has spent the past month awaiting this chance.

He hasn't played since the Steelers' last Monday night appearance, a 20-19 victory over Baltimore on Oct.31.

After Roethlisberger had knee surgery on Nov.3,Cowher held him out for three games and there was a noticeable difference in the Steelers.

Pittsburgh struggled to win at Green Bay, then lost 16-13 in overtime at Baltimore, snapping a franchise-record 11-game road winning streak.

Roethlisberger has an 18-1 regular-season record as a starter and has lost only twice - both to New England, once in the playoffs.

He figures it will take time to get reacquainted to game speed, but the Steelers can't afford to wait long. Pittsburgh needs a victory to stay tied for first in the AFC North.

James will face the league's No.3 run defense, which could force Manning to do more.