Teammates voted Ben Roethlisberger team MVP for the 2009 season, the first time the quarterback has earned that honor in six years.
Some have said that is because Roethlisberger is not popular in the locker room, but Pittsburgh has a history of ignoring their quarterback when it comes time to selecting its MVP -- even past Hall of Famers.
Terry Bradshaw won the award twice, or equal to his number of Super Bowl MVPs. Neil O'Donnell won it once and Kordell Stewart once in the 41 years they've been naming MVPs in Pittsburgh.
Roethlisberger missed one game this season with a concussion and has one game left in Miami Sunday. He has already set team records for yards passing in a season (4,108), game (503) and with five 300-yard games. He is 67-28 as a starter, including postseason (8-2).
Roethlisberger is the first alternate for the AFC Pro Bowl and with three quarterbacks in prime contention for the Super Bowl on that all-star roster, he likely will be named to play in the game.
"It's the first time in six years I've never missed a practice because of injury or whatever, so I think that has translated onto the football field and my play has been better," Roethlisberger said of his 2009 season. "Whether it's the no-huddle or understanding offenses better, I think you can say it's been one of my better years."
Charlie Batch, his longtime backup who arrived in Pittsburgh in 2002, believes Roethlisberger's rookie season caused changes in how others think about using their young quarterbacks. Roethlisberger returns Sunday to the scene of his first start, in Miami in the fourth game of the 2004 season. The Steelers won that game and went 13-0 under Roethlisberger. He did not lose a start until the AFC championship game against New England.
"With him doing that I think it set the bar for other rookie quarterbacks coming in," Batch said. "That allowed other organizations to say 'Pittsburgh did it, let's go out and throw our guy in there.'"
--The Steelers put only two players on the Pro Bowl roster and no offensive players for the second year in a row. James Harrison will make his third straight start at outside linebacker and NT Casey Hampton is a reserve, his fifth Pro Bowl appearance.
However, with the game being played Sunday before the Super Bowl, some Steelers alternates could get in as players from the Super Bowl team and perhaps the loser of the AFC Championship Game drop out.
--LB LaMarr Woodley was named AFC defensive player of the week for his play against Baltimore. He had two sacks and 10 tackles, and also forced a fumble. Woodley, though, was not happy he did not make the Pro Bowl.
"I guess I have to play harder and maybe next year have 21 sacks," Woodley said. "I have to put some hot numbers out there to get noticed."
--It appears Troy Polamalu will miss his seventh straight game with a sprained PCL in his left knee, even though he went through a limited practice for the first time during that span.
"Whenever you take this much time off it's kind of a mix of everything," he said. "It's trying to get your nervous system right, trying to get muscle bulk from the atrophy, trying to get some strength back ... It's a process of even seeing looks at this point in the season. Had I been 100 percent healthy I probably wouldn't be practicing any faster than I am now."
BY THE NUMBERS
5-1 -- Steelers all-time regular-season record in January, including victories in their past three games played in that month.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"We did a lot to hurt ourselves with those five games that we lost. If we get in, it's a blessing. We need help." -- LB James Harrison on team's five-game losing streak in games 9-13.
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