Indianapolis — When Ben Roethlisberger visits the RCA Dome for the first time tonight, he'll glimpse at Peyton Manning and try to steal a few tips.
It'll be one of the few times in Roethlisberger's 11â2 NFL seasons he has played the role of fan.
"I'm excited to watch Peyton in person. I think it will be fun," Roethlisberger said.
How much Roethlisberger enjoys the show will depend on three things - how well he plays after missing three games, how well Manning performs, and whether the Steelers (7-3) can become the first team to knock off the unbeaten Indianapolis Colts (10-0).
For the second straight week, the Colts will get an up-close look at one of the league's emerging stars. Last week, Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer shredded the Colts defense for 338 yards and two touchdowns - and they don't want a repeat.
Meanwhile, the Colts offense seems nearly unstoppable.
Manning has regained his two-time MVP form. He's topped 300 yards in two of the last three games, thrown 18 touchdowns in the last seven games and rapidly has ascended the league-leading charts in both touchdown passes and passer rating.
The Colts also have the AFC's top rusher in Edgerrin James (1,116 yards), two of the top three receivers and have scored at least 31 points in five straight games.
That kind of production worries Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher, a defensive mastermind.
"I think what we're playing is a very confident team. They're unbeaten for a reason," Cowher said. "I think it's going to take our best game to beat them, and it's a great challenge and a great opportunity for us."
Roethlisberger has spent the past month eagerly awaiting this chance.
He hasn't played since the Steelers' last Monday night appearance, a 20-19 victory over Baltimore on Oct. 31. After knee surgery on Nov. 3, Cowher held out Roethlisberger for three games and there was a noticeable difference in the Steelers.