ARLINGTON TX - FEBRUARY 06: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks off the field after losing to the Green Bay Packers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6 2011 in Arlington Texas. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
No need to remind you of what transpired at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday night in Super Bowl XLV. The Pittsburgh Steelers were unable to overcome a 14-point 1st quarter deficit against the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV. They got damn close, cutting the lead to three in the fourth quarter, then having one final shot down six with 2 minutes to play. But ultimately, it was Green Bay's time to bask in Super Bowl glory. Green Bay, the franchise with the most league titles in NFL history, brought a fourth Super Bowl trophy back to Title Town with a 31-25 win on Sunday night.
There were a myriad reasons why the Steelers were unable to add to their already league-best collection of Lombardi Trophies. The miscues of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger were certainly an integral factor. However, Big Ben does not deserve to be thrown under the bus as the lone man responsible for the loss. Period. Not surprisinglly, Big Ben accepted responsibility for the loss, going so far as to say the defeat was entirely on him. Not true at all!
Roethlisberger's two interceptions proved to be costly, no doubt. Both resulted in Green Bay touchdowns either directly or on the Packers ensuing offensive series. The first INT was returned 37 yards by Nick Collins for the Packers second score in 18 seconds following their impressive scoring drive on offense in quater number one. Collins' pick-six gave Green Bay an early 14-0 lead before the Steelers knew what had hit them.
The second pick was the first time in many moons that Big Ben had a pass intercepted as a result of truly poor judgment and decision making. Sure, Ben's made some mistakes with his reads during the '10 season, but compared to season's past, he's been a whole lot smarter with where to go with the football. With the Steelers trailing 14-3 and trying to claw their way back into the game in the second quarter, Roethlisberger made the type of inexperienced costly throw that he's largely avoid this year when he threw into double coverage to Mike Wallace over the middle of the field. Jarrett Bush picked off the pass and the Packers proceeded to march down the field and extend their lead to 18 points at 21-3.
So, make no mistake about it: Big Ben could have played better, and as we all know, quarterback play goes a long way towards determining winners and losers in the NFL. But outside of his mistakes, Roethlisberger was very good, More importantly though, it wasn't just Big Ben who had a few slip ups during Sunday;s loss. Before we touch on some of that, a quick look at Roethlisberger's otherwise impressive numbers from Sunday's game:
25-of-40, 263 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs; 4 rushes, 31 yards.
Take away just one of his two turnovers and the Steelers likely win their seventh Super Bowl with Roethlisberger named SB MVP for the first time in his three appearances.
More importantly though, there was plenty of 'blame' to go around for the night. I'm more inclined to just say that we witnessed a tremendously entertaining game that wound up going in Green Bay's favor. (The Packers also had plenty of mistakes mind you, namely a number of dropped passes that would have gone down in infamy had they lost).
But if we must, we could just as easily point to Rashard Mendenhall's fumble in the fourth quarter when the Steelers were marching inside the Packers 40 yard line and in position to take their first lead of the night. We could also look at the two burned timeouts early on in the second half, something that came back to haunt the Steelers in their final drive of the game. What about the personal foul penalty on Keyaron Fox on the final kickoff return by the Steelers with just about two minutes left? The Steelers started on their own 13 rather than at the 27 because of that mistake. Should we blame Isaac Redman for unnecessarily fighting for a few extra meaningless yards on that kickoff return when he would have been better off sliding down a few yards earlier in order to ensure that the Steelers could get a play off before the 2 minute warning? What about pointing the finger at a number of guys on defense that failed to have much of an impact on the game -- guys like LaMarr Woodley, Troy Polamalu, et al.
I could go on, but the point is that in the National Football League, very few games come down to one or two plays. The fault rarely rests on the shoulders of any one player, no matter how poorly they played. Roethlisberger undeniably picked a bad game to make several mistakes that we haven't seen him make this year, but regardless, it's not as if he was the only guy in black and gold to play less than perfect football. Outside of his two picks, as well as the one bad sack he took in the third quarter that put the Steelers out of field goal range (Tomlin opted to try for the long attempt anyway), I thought Roethlisberger was great. He missed a guy here or there, particularly early on in the contest. But he battled like he always does and did one hell of a job getting the Steelers back into the game when things were looking mighty dark early on.
I'm disappointed, but I'm also really proud of the 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers. It would have been oh-so-sweet to win a seventh Super Bowl in a year where nobody believed the Steelers would do much of anything, let alone navigate through the vaunted AFC into the final game of the year. It wasn't meant to be for us this year, but it wasn't because Ben Roethlisberger or any other individual player let Steeler Nation down with their individual play.
More soon. Go Steelers!