What a tremendous first half of offense by the Steelers yesterday. After punting on our first possesion, the Steelers proceeded to score TDs on three straight drives. Dating back to the Denver game, that gave us TDs on 6 of our last 7 possesions. Impressive stuff. Had Big Ben not thrown that redzone INT, we may very well have scored another 6, and kept our streak of redzone TDs alive at 12.
Roethlisberger continues to find ways to impress, frustrate, and even scare the piss out of me all within a single game. Two very similar plays demonstrate this sufficiently: I forget the exact circumstances, but Big Ben was flushed out of the pocket, was being dragged down, but threw a perfect pass to Santonio Holmes, who was flying across the field to where Big Ben was. Ben was throwing across his body slightly, yet delivered a pin-point strike to Holmes, who made the catch for the first down. Ben's ability to make the first rusher miss was again on display yesterday, and for the most part, it reaped dividends. But as has been the case over the past two years, it also came back to haunt him on the INT, the second play I wanted to mention. Again Ben was rolling out right facing pressure. Perhaps armed with too much confidence from his first half triumphs, Roeth attempted a ridiculous throw across his body that was nowhere near his intended target, Cedrick Wilson I believe. As DaTruth pointed out, we can't have that. Ever. Whether we're trying to put a team away like yesterday, or trying to get back in the game, it's just unacceptable to make those kind of mistakes. Fumbles on blind site hits occasionally happen; as do tipped passes that get picked off. School-yard, bone-headed mistakes can't be made if this team wants to return to Arizona next February.
Now that the bad has been discussed, time to give Roethlisberger props for what he did well. First of all, imagine how ugly things would be if Ben wasn't able to allude the initial pass rush in the pocket. He's avoided at least 10 sacks this year with his strength and nimble feet. Roethlisberger also has done a much better job checking down since the Arizona game. Finally, Big Ben seems to have found his rhythm with Hines Ward once again. This is big news for our offense. With Heath Miller being virtually unstoppable by a LB, our offense will be awfully tough to stop if Ben has two #1-caliber receivers to throw to.
I'd also like to recognize the rapport Ben and Santonio seemingly have on the field. Last year Roethlisberger admitted having a hard time hitting Holmes on some of the quick-hit timing stuff over the middle. Holmes is small and deceptively fast, and when you factor in the time Roeth missed last preseason due to injury, it's understandable why they didn't get on the same page till late in the year.
The two of them must have spent a lot of time this offseason and in camp, because Big Ben keeps looking for, and finding, Holmes on big plays. Their timing is great, and Ben clearly trusts Holmes, who rarely drops passes, even in traffic. It could just be luck that they've been on the same page all year; more likely it's because they put in extra time this offseason.
Overall, a solid day for Roethlisberger. 19 of 26 for 230 yards. 6 of 8 passing on third down. All very solid. Ben's QB rating - an overated stat if you ask me - is over 100 for the season. 13 TDs to just 5 INTs. A big, big improvement from a year ago.