First impressions of Ben Roethlisberger


From Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

Brett Keisel has followed Ben Roethlisberger’s career as closely as anyone. The defensive end already had two years on the roster when the Steelers drafted their quarterback in 2004.

Keisel, who would become friends with Roethlisberger, recalled two first “wow” moments for him that opened his eyes to just what the Steelers had in their young quarterback.

The first came during a practice.

“I was just a couple years older than him, and I made a nice rush, and he just took off away from me,” Keisel said. “I said, ‘This big boy can run.’

The other came in the fifth game of his rookie season — his third start — against Cleveland at home. The score was tied, 7-7, in the first quarter. The Steelers had second down on the Browns 6.

“The pocket got smashed,” Keisel said, giving the play-by-play 10 years later. “And he did a couple whoop-de-doos and spins and tiptoes and then just gave everything he had to get into the end zone, and then he had to dive between two guys coming to smash him.

“When that happened, all of us were like, ‘Wow!’ ”

There would be many more such moments over the next decade, and they hope more to come.

Said Keisel: “Running with this thing the way he did as a rookie and going 15-1, and the next year we go win the Super

Bowl and then we go back and then we go back. I mean, it’s all because we have that franchise quarterback.”