TAMPA, Fla. - Ben Roethlisberger already has a ring.
Now, the Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback is seeking redemption.
It was three years ago that Roethlisberger completed nine of his 21 passes for 123 yards in the Steelers' Super Bowl victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Producing more jitters than big plays, his quarterback rating was 22.6, worst of any passer to win a Super Bowl.
When the Steelers arrived in muggy Florida yesterday, Roethlisberger walked off the plane with his white cap on backward, a camera in hand and a big smile splashed across his face.
Big Ben seemed to be stepping on firmer ground at this Super Bowl.
"Of course, I want to play better than I did last time," said Roethlisberger, who will face the Arizona Cardinals in Sunday's Super Bowl. "I felt like I let the team down. I expect it to be different this time."
But no one would confuse their Super Bowl performances.
The Patriots have won because of Brady. The Steelers won in spite of Roethlisberger.
In the Super Bowl win over the Seahawks, Roethlisberger threw two interceptions and no touchdown passes. It remains the only time in his nine-game playoff career that he has failed to throw a touchdown pass.
"It was crazy because if I do get nervous before a game, [the nerves] usually go away after the first play. But for the Super Bowl, they never went away," Roethlisberger said. "I think my play really showed it, too."
Roethlisberger is one of those quarterbacks whose impact can't be measured by numbers.
This season, he led Pittsburgh to the AFC North title and a first-round bye by completing 59.9 percent of his passes for 3,301 yards. The fifth-year veteran had 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions for a passer rating of 80.1, which ranked 24th in the NFL and lower than Ravens rookie Joe Flacco (80.3).
"Quarterbacks should be judged by wins and losses," tight end Heath Miller said. "That's why he should be considered among the top in the NFL."
Roethlisberger won 50 games faster than any other quarterback in history. His career record is 58-22 (including a 7-2 postseason mark).
In the AFC championship game against the Ravens, Roethlisberger wasn't sharp, but he delivered when needed.
In the second quarter, he broke out of the pocket to his left before stutter-stepping back right. He then hit Santonio Holmes for a 65-yard touchdown, which staked Pittsburgh to a 13-0 lead.
It's moments like these - where it seems as if everything is crashing around him - that Roethlisberger shows calm and maturity.
"Ben is a special guy, at his best in the midst of the most difficult adversity, making great decisions," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said.
That's why the Steelers expect Roethlisberger to come through this time at the Super Bowl.
"He's on a mission," wide receiver Hines Ward said. "He wants to redeem himself. He wants to go out there and put on a show. Now, he knows this is his team. We now we go as far as Ben takes us."
Notes: : Ward said he will play in the Super Bowl with a sprained knee, an injury that occurred in the first quarter of the AFC championship game. "I would have played if the game had been last week," Ward said. Tomlin said Ward will get his usual day off tomorrow and try to practice Thursday. ... An early sign that Tampa will be overrun by Steelers fans came yesterday, when a huge crowd came to the team hotel and chanted, "Here we go, Steelers." ... Tomlin said his team is ready for the extra chores that come with playing in the Super Bowl, from relocating to a college facility this week to the heightened media presence. "We embrace all that's involved in the Super Bowl," Tomlin said. "We're down here to play; we're down here to win. I'm sure there's 30 other teams in the NFL that would like to have this burden this week." ... A strong tailwind got the Cardinals to Tampa ahead of schedule yesterday.