|Big Ben withstands blitzes, bad shoulder for win|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 06 October 2008 11:14|
They always had Jerome Bettis, Willie Parker or Hines Ward, a line led by All-Pro guard Alan Faneca, and one of the NFL's best defenses to take the pressure off their quarterback. Win the game? No, Big Ben, just don't lose it.
Not any longer.
Down to their No. 4 running back, and playing a rival that had beaten them four consecutive times, the Steelers put this one squarely on Roethlisberger's shoulders - a major gamble given his right shoulder is so sore he can barely raise his throwing arm.
Roethlisberger responded with the kind of game rarely seen by a Steelers quarterback since the days of Terry Bradshaw, one in which resilience and ruggedness, leadership and a determination to win were as important as an accurate throwing arm.
ing the 26-21 comeback victory over the Jaguars. That Sunday night victory gave the Steelers a 4-1 record going into their bye week.
It wasn't the best game of his career statistically, or the biggest - he won a Super Bowl in his second season, after all - but Roethlisberger may never play so important a role in the eyes of his teammates.
This is the very reason why, for the first time in his five-season career, Roethlisberger was chosen as a Steelers captain.
``Ben played a hell of a game, considering not practicing all week and I couldn't catch from him all week,'' Ward said. ``He showed what kind of ballplayer he is.''
This one was all set up for the Steelers to lose. They were without injured running backs Parker, Rashard Mendenhall and Carey Davis, their line was allowing Roethlisberger to get sacked at an alarming rate, and the Jaguars had beaten them four consecutive times.
Roethlisberger threw an interception Rashean Mathis returned for a touchdown on Pittsburgh's opening possession, then responded by going 26-of-41 for 309 yards and three touchdowns - the last a winning throw to Ward in the final 2 minutes. That finished off an 80-yard, 11-play drive that became longer because of a 15-yard taunting penalty on wide receiver Nate Washington.
enderson - yet he broke free to complete key passes.
There was added pressure on Roethlisberger, too, on a possession that began with the Steelers down 21-20. Kicker Jeff Reed injured his groin, and it's uncertain whether he could have attempted a winning field goal or how close he would have needed to be to try one.
Set up to lose? Roethlisberger wasn't about to let the Steelers do that, despite a sprained right shoulder that left him so uncomfortable following a 23-20 overtime win over Baltimore on Sept. 29 that he practiced only a few minutes last week.
It was the kind of performance that can convince teammates they can go a long way with this guy at quarterback, although Roethlisberger's 43-17 regular-season record should tell them that.
``Ben is an amazing player,'' Mathis said. ``He makes plays that other quarterbacks probably wouldn't and, in that last drive, he definitely made some great plays.''
Parker, who has rushed for 1,200 or more yards the last three seasons, is expected to return from a two-game layoff with a sprained knee to play at Cincinnati on Oct. 19. But the Steelers got 99 yards rushing from third-down back Mewelde Moore in his first NFL start since 2005.
Still, their fans likely will remember this one as the game Roethlisberger refused to lose.
Paul Spicer said.
Not a surprise there. Roethlisberger has been sacked 18 times, second most in the NFL to J.T. O'Sullivan's 20 for San Francisco, yet he is 23-of-38 for 324 yards when he gets the ball off while facing full-scale blitzing, according to STATS Inc.
``It's going to be a good time this week (with a bye), not just for me but for a lot of the guys,'' Roethlisberger said. ``A lot of guys got beat up, but we kind of knew that was going to happen. The bye comes at a good time for us to get some rest.''