Teammates Ben Roethlisberger and Jerricho Cotchery grinding out quality season

Jared Wickerham

Cotchery caught a career-high three touchdown passes in the loss to the Patriots. With free agency looming, the Steelers would be wise to consider keeping Cotchery in town for another year or two.

As bleak as the Steelers' 55-31 whipping at the hands of the Patriots was, if nothing else can be taken away, it's the pinnacle of resurgence in the career of Jerricho Cotchery.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had already connected with Cotchery on a 20-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, but not even four game minutes later, the Steelers were back in the red zone.

Out of shotgun, Roethlisberger had Cotchery on the inside and Emmanuel Sanders on the outside. Sanders motioned to the slot, carrying a defensive back with him. Roethlisberger noticed the indication of man coverage without help over the top on Cotchery.

He patiently called for the snap, got the ball and fired to Cotchery in the end zone for the pair's second touchdown of the game. Even with single coverage, it's a tight window, throwing to the front pylon without a huge amount of space for the defender to cover. Cotchery shielded off the defender, and made the catch.

Roethlisberger would connect once more with Cotchery in garbage time, the Steelers down 41-24 before their six-yard touchdown strike.

It was the most touchdowns Cotchery has scored in a game in his nine-year NFL career, and the second multi-touchdown game. Roethlisberger finished the game with four touchdown passes, the sixth time he's thrown for more than three touchdowns in a game.

Cotchery is a free agent in 2014, but with the impending loss of Emmanuel Sanders to free agency, and the fact rookie WR Markus Wheaton having spent half his rookie season injured, the Steelers may be wise to look to keep Cotchery in town for another season or two. The chemistry that's beginning to develop between the two - Cotchery has 29 catches for 404 yards and a team-high five touchdowns this year - may prove beneficial for the team in the long run.

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