CLEVELAND (AP) -- Ben Roethlisberger walked out of Browns Stadium
with his head and perfect record intact.
Unfazed by Gerard Warren's pregame threats or anything
Cleveland's defense threw at him, Roethlisberger became the first
rookie quarterback to begin 7-0 since the 1970 merger as the
Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Browns 24-10 on Sunday.
"Ben doesn't get rattled," said wide receiver Hines Ward.
"For him (Warren) to make comments like that wasn't very smart. I
guess maybe he's jealous of Ben."
He may not be the only one.
Jerome Bettis had two short touchdown runs for the Steelers
(8-1), who won their seventh straight game and continued their best
start since opening 1978, when they went 9-1.
They did it by taking smashmouth football to a new extreme.
During pregame warmups, Pittsburgh linebacker Joey Porter punched
Browns running back William Green, bloodying his lower lip during
their fight. Both were ejected before the opening kickoff.
After handing New England and Philadelphia their first losses
the past two weeks, Pittsburgh figured to be due for a letdown.
That will have to wait until next week -- maybe -- as the Steelers
remained the NFL's hottest team.
"We haven't done anything yet," Steelers coach Bill Cowher
said. "We're fighting and scratching for everything we can get
every week. We're not that much better than that team over there."
Bettis, starting for the second straight week in place of the
injured Duce Staley, gained 103 yards on 29 carries. He scored on
TD runs from the 5 and 1 in the first half.
Bettis had a chance to score a third TD, but couldn't get over
the goal line despite three cracks from Cleveland's 1 in the fourth
"That's my job, what I'm here for is to be a relief pitcher,"
said Bettis, now 5 yards behind Tony Dorsett for fifth on the
league's career rushing list. "This team is special. The guys
behind the starters have to help. That happened today. James
Harrison had a real good game."
Harrison filled in for Porter, who exchanged spit and fists with
Green during their pregame bout near the 50. Harrison had six
tackles and one of Pittsburgh's four sacks on Browns quarterback
On another sack, Steelers safety Russell Stuvaints returned
Garcia's fumble 24 yards for a TD.
The 104th game in the NFL's fiercest rivalry was particularly
nasty -- beforehand.
Earlier in the week, Warren promised to go after
Roethlisberger's head, saying: "Kill the head and the body is
dead." Warren was warned by the league on Friday to watch himself
or risk a suspension.
Warren, who had one tackle, said he spoke with Roethlisberger
before the game and explained his comments.
"They were private words not to be repeated," Warren said.
Roethlisberger said Warren was respectful.
"We talked a little bit, we laughed," Roethlisberger said.
"He said, 'Let's play football, forget about what was said and
enjoy today.' That was OK with me."
Roethlisberger wasn't spectacular, just efficient. He finished
10-of-16 for 134 yards. He also had 41 yards rushing as he smartly
avoided pressure by running from trouble the few times the Browns
(3-6) were able to get him in any trouble.
Roethlisberger gained 13 yards on a key third-and-1 late in the
third quarter. He got the Browns to bite on a fake handoff and ran
around left end, picking up a nice block from wide receiver Plaxico
Burress for the first down.
"I told you the kid was good," said Warren.
Garcia was under siege almost every time he dropped back. He
went 7-for-16 for 110 yards, was sacked four times and threw an
He was replaced by Kelly Holcomb with 9 minutes left and the
Steelers up by three TDs. Holcomb threw a 7-yard TD pass to Aaron
Garcia was disappointed with the Browns' latest defeat, their
third straight. It was more of the same: too many turnovers,
penalties and mistakes.
"You name it," Garcia said, "we do it the wrong way."
With the Browns dropping farther back in the AFC North, coach
Butch Davis' future in Cleveland appears in jeopardy. He was asked
if he was worried about his job security.
"I'm more concerned about the 53 guys in that locker room
getting respect," he said.
Backed up at his 7, Roethlisberger drove the Steelers 93 yards
in 13 plays, with Bettis scoring on a 5-yard run to give Pittsburgh
a 7-3 lead in the first period. His 20-yard run in the second
quarter set up Bettis' second TD, putting the Steelers up 14-3.
Browns K Phil Dawson made his 27th straight field goal, the
league's longest current streak. ... Davis dropped to 24-33 since
2001 and 1-8 vs. Pittsburgh. ... Bettis has 10 TDs -- one shy of his
career-high set in 1996.
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