Ben Roethlisberger Again Proves Ironman Status, Leads Steelers to Pivotal Win
Ben Roethlisberger was a backup quarterback in name only for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Expected starter Landry Jones managed to get through only four pass attempts before offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert inadvertently stepped on his ankle and forced Big Ben into the game.
Given Roethlisberger’s penchant for playing well below his best while dealing with injuries, Steeler fans must have expected the worst when Jones was carted back to the locker room.
Instead, the face of the franchise alleviated any lingering doubts, throwing for 379 yards and three touchdowns on a desperately depleted Cleveland Browns secondary. After trading field goals early in what looked like another typical low-scoring, smash-mouth AFC North affair, the Steelers offense eventually kicked into gear and never looked back en route to a 30-9 victory.
Ben took it upon himself to launch the assault through the air, racking up monstrous stat lines for Pittsburgh’s 2015 MVP Antonio Brown and big-bodied speedster Martavis Bryant for the majority of his 22 completions.
Straight off a career performance against Oakland, Brown was good for relatively quiet 10 receptions, 139 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 perfect standing somersault into the endzone. Bryant, meanwhile, recovered from an early momentum-killing fumble to amass 178 yards on just 6 catches, and a score of his own.
Roethlisberger’s incredible day – the best game by a “backup” quarterback since 1950 – begs the question: how does anyone stop this aerial juggernaut? The obvious answer would be to completely shut down the run and make Pittsburgh’s offense one-dimensional, except that’s exactly what the Browns did.
At one point in the second half, DeAngelo Williams had more rushing attempts than yards. Williams finally pulled together a respectable tally of 54 rushing yards on 17 carries, but about 40 of those came in the fourth quarter with the Steelers up by either 2 or 3 scores and trying to run clock.
Roethlisberger seemingly had no plans of even entertaining the idea of an illusory ground game, favouring the deep ball repeatedly on a day that rained 40-yard bombs and pass interference penalties.
In the midst of all the wonder and renewed optimism in Pittsburgh, the 6-4 Steelers and their rabid fans will get a chance to cool off with a much-needed bye week before beginning a brutal six game stretch in Seattle. But as long as Big Ben is in the backfield, they’ll feel like they have a shot in every one of them. Not bad for a backup.