Big Ben: Super Bowl is 'ultimate goal'

PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger is producing his best statistical season -- perhaps an MVP season -- and is on pace for nearly 4,800 passing yards and 35 touchdowns by late December.

The way Roethlisberger sees it, winning an MVP would be an "awesome individual honor," but he wouldn't trade it for either of his two Super Bowls -- or three, if he has his way.

"If you asked any player that's won MVP awards and never won a Super Bowl, I'm sure they'd trade that in in a heartbeat," Roethlisberger told ESPN on Wednesday as the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints. "[An MVP] is a great thing. It would still be a reflection of how our offense has played. To me, that Super Bowl is the ultimate goal."

Roethlisberger, who has completed 68.3 percent of his passes this season, hasn't always aligned big statistical years with the Steelers' highest win totals.

In 2009, Roethlisberger threw for 4,328 yards and 26 touchdowns, and the Steelers finished 9-7. Pittsburgh posted back-to-back 8-8 seasons as Roethlisberger combined for 7,526 yards and 54 touchdowns in 2012 and 2013. His biggest scoring year, 2007, coincided with the Steelers' 10-6 record -- and Tom Brady's 50-touchdown year and undefeated regular season. No one else was winning MVP that year.

These Steelers have a 7-4 record, offensive playmakers such as Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell and an offensive coordinator in Todd Haley who Roethlisberger said embraces collaboration.

Roethlisberger said he has "no clue" why the perception exists that he and Haley don't get along, a theme that percolated late last season after a loss to the Miami Dolphins. At the time, Roethlisberger quickly squashed what he believed was a misconception.

"It's been like that since he got here, and we're still not sure why it is," Roethlisberger said Wednesday. "We kind of laugh at it and make a mockery of it now. I think it's just the reason [the perception] came early that we didn't get along is because it was something new."

Roethlisberger and Haley, who was hired in 2012, treat offensive plays like a collage, adding this or extracting that or throwing things out altogether based on ideas they kick around during the week and on game days.

Roethlisberger said he'll throw a concept Haley's way and Haley can keep it, tweak it or not use it, and no decision is personal.

"I have to be an extension of him on the football field -- we have to be able to communicate well together," Roethlisberger said. "He gives me the freedom -- that's part of working together, having the freedom, being able to change a play, getting into my own play, no-huddle type stuff, but none of that works if we don't put the time in during the week."

Roethlisberger said in the offseason he wanted this year to be his best, which he tried to back up by eating right, putting in extra work away from the facility and picking up quarterbacking nuances from "watching the greats." Roethlisberger effusively praises his offensive teammates for the Steelers' production, but he also knows his health and his arm are ready for the stretch run.

"As you get older, you want to try to stay younger," said Roethlisberger, 32, whose contract runs to 2015 but will be revisited this offseason by the team and president and co-owner Art Rooney II.