I know Big Ben has never been the most popular athlete in the city's history. There are the many stories of how he can be with people away from the field. We all know those stories. But yesterday, the Big Ben that every Steeler fan should love, the one who wears number 7, was back at Heinz Field.
He was the Ben of old, eluding tacklers and making things happen like only he can. He can be frustrating at times, like on his first drive when he over-threw Moore and was intercepted inside the red zone, but with Roethlisberger, for every bad play, there are usually three or four that make you realize that he truly is one of the best quarterbacks in the game and certainly the best at making things happen. Like his first touchdown pass to Mike Wallace where he got rid of the ball under tremendous pressure. Or how about the big 50-yard pass to Wallace in the third quarter when Roethlisberger unleashed the ball in his own endzone just before he got nailed. The pass was right on the money. And on the very next play, he hit Miller on a play-action pass inside the ten yard line. Just like that, on two plays, it was first and goal. If ever there was a sequence of events that emphasized just what Roethlisberger means to the franchise it was those two plays. You go from the shadow of your own goalline to first and goal in a matter of two plays. And on third and goal, he had the presence of mind to hit Hines Ward over the middle with at least two guys right in his face. Kudos to Hines, who made an even better play, fighting his way into the end zone, but how many quarterbacks could have been able to even get the ball to Ward in that particular situation?
Roethlisberger often gets criticized for his style, but it's who he is. It's what he does best, and why would anyone want to take that away from him? He seriously looks like an angry bear when defenders are trying to get him down. I wouldn't want to be one of those guys trying to wrestle him to the ground.
Asking Roethlisberger to stop trying to prolong plays is like telling him to throw left-handed (although, with his improvising style, that may have happened over the years.) He wouldn't be Ben if he stopped doing that. He would be just your average, everyday quarterback, and those types of quarterbacks don't usually get the job done, at least not on a regular basis. A Ravens defender was once quoted as saying that Roethlisberger almost wants the pass rusher to beat his man. And the way Roelthisberger seems to excel under those situations, he's probably right.
Anywho, I thought it was a good win for Pittsburgh. I know Cleveland was a 14-point underdog, down to a rookie quarterback, but Cleveland is a lot of more competitive than their record would indicate. They've been in every game this season and they were in yesterday's affair until about five minutes left. Speaking of that rookie quarterback, Colt McCoy was pretty impressive in his debut. He completed some tough passes and hung in their against the Steelers' pass rush. Sure, he made some mistakes, but he looks like someone Steeler Nation might have to contend with for years to come.
Back to the Steelers, for you Arians bashers out there, I thought he called a good game-plan and the pass-to-run ratio (27-35) was about as balanced as you can get. Mendenhall looked awesome and seems to be very close to becoming one of the elite backs in the league.
The defense looked as good as you'd expect going against a depleted Browns' team, made even more depleted by James Harrison's two jarring tackles in the second quarter that knocked out Joshua Cribbsand Massaquoi respectively. Cribbs and Massaquoi both suffered head injuries and never returned.
The secondary performed okay. Not great. McCoy had 280 passing yards, but the Browns were playing from behind most of the game, and Cleveland could do very little on the ground, and that formula usually makes it easier for teams to accumulate yards through the air.
I don't have any problem with how yesterday's game unfolded. I know some fans will find some things to criticize but that's the nature of the fans, especially in Pittsburgh where we act as if the other team isn't even trying to win. Like they're the Washington Generals and should let the Steelers come out on the field with a ladder and a bucket of confetti and score a touchdown.
And almost as sweet as the Steeler win was the 4th quarter collapse of the Ravens, who lost at New England in overtime.
Big Ben is back and the Steelers are back in first place. What could be sweeter?