ORCHARD PARK - When the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills get together today, it will be interesting to watch both quarterbacks manage their respective teams.
Since returning from his four-game suspension at the beginning of the year, Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has led his team to a 4-2 mark to maintain first place in the tough AFC North with a 7-3 record. Roethlisberger has thrown for 1,579 yards and 12 touchdowns in six games. He has a quarterback rating of 101.9 yards.
What helps make Roethlisberger so explosive, besides having a strong arm, is the fact the Steelers have been known for years as the smash-mouth, run-oriented offense. When the Steelers run the ball as effective as they have, it opens up big pass plays for receivers Mike Wallace, Hines Ward and Antwan Randle El.
Buffalo linebacker Paul Posluszny was asked if the Bills need to be more prepared to stop the run or the throw.
"Definitely both," he responded. "When you think about the traditional Pittsburgh Steelers, goal number one is always stop the run. They're running the ball well; They've got a good back and a good offensive line so that's always goal number one to stop the run. Then they have a dynamic quarterback who is throwing the ball really well too so they do both well."
In the last two games, Roethlisberger has thrown for 387 yards in a loss to the New England Patriots and 275 yards in a win against the Oakland Raiders last week. His touchdown to interception ratio is 12:4 this season and he has rushed for 85 yards and one touchdown.
"The thing about it is he's so hard to tackle," Bills coach Chan Gailey said. "If he runs, you just have a hard time tackling him and he's not prone to run as he was before, but he understands all the weapons that are around him and he's trying to get it in their hands. That's a smart quarterback."
Meanwhile, Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been impressive himself this season. Since taking over as the starter in Week 3, Fitzpatrick has thrown for 1,961 yards and 18 touchdowns. His quarterback rating is an 88.1.
Not bad for a so-called "journeyman backup."
Fitzpatrick's play has received praise from his coaches and teammates. During the week, Gailey gave Fitzpatrick a vote of confidence to be the starter next year.
"Oh sure. To be honest with you, I'd be kind of dumb not to think that with the way the guy's played," he said. "He's played extremely well. How could you not think that?
"Hey, I don't give anything away - guys earn it," Gailey added. "He's earned it."
Fitzpatrick threw for 382 yards against Baltimore, 299 yards against the Chicago Bears and last week he threw for 316 yards in a win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
So will Roethlisberger continue to help the Steelers improve their position for the playoffs, or will Fitzpatrick lead the Bills to an upset victory for his team's third win in a row?