There I was, an 11 year old kid watching Superbowl 43. All the twists and turns that happened throughout that game, and even after Larry Fitzgerald went to the house to give the Cardinals the lead, I had no doubts about the ending outcome. I knew very little about the game of football at the time, but throughout all the frustrating moments during the season and how it went, I had no doubt Ben Roethlisberger would drive it down the field and win the game.
Ever since then, I just haven’t ever had that same feeling. It always felt like each year I was just waiting and waiting for Ben to have another signature moment like the one in the legendary 2008 season.
However, the moment I had been waiting for arrived in Pittsburgh against Dallas this season. After losing 3 straight games, which started in a hot day in Miami, Ben had told the team before the game to “Follow me.” Ben not only had one of his finest statistical games of his career, but he would engineer a late game drive which ended with him faking a spike and tossing a beautiful fade into the corner of the endzone for Antonio Brown.
As great as that moment was, it was short lived, as Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott had just enough time to engineer a late game winning drive and they not only did, Elliott punched it in for a touchdown, putting a dagger inside the hearts of Steelers fans like myself.
A four game losing streak is what it had become. I was sick to my stomach. That was a signature Roethlisberger moment, one I hadn’t seen in a long time, and it got taken away just like that.
I knew from that point on the Steelers are going to have to go undefeated for the rest of the regular season to get into the playoffs. I had no doubt they were capable of beating all the remaining teams left on their schedule, it was just a matter of will they get out of Cincinnati injury free, and will they beat the Ravens.
When they got past all those other teams convincingly, I still did not get excited. I didn’t because I saw what happened in Dallas. I was of the utmost confidence that the Steelers were going to beat the Cowboys because they had to. They didn’t, and I honestly couldn’t bare to have my expectations set so high, only to be disappointed in the end.
Even though Ben had brought the team back against Cincinnati, that moment still didn’t feel like 2008. I was still doubtful because the game against the Ravens could just be like the Dallas game, and take something great away again.
This was new for me, as I always wanted to be confident till the very end because I knew my team had a QB that could come back in the clutch whenever they were down. That’s how I was and to have a feeling of no expectations was so different.
Down 24 - 27, the moment for Ben finally came against Baltimore in the confines of Heinz Field. I sat in the same spot I did during Superbowl 43, but at a moment where I had no expectations all I kept saying was “Just win it Ben.” I wasn’t confident, but I had the same feeling I did during Superbowl 43. All the chips on the table with the clock against you, it just felt like 2008.
The way Ben was moving the ball, it just felt like nothing was going to stop him and this offense. Then the referee was having trouble placing the ball and the clock was down to 14 seconds. My heart was pounding and I immediately thought back to Dallas, remembering how such a great moment could be taken away just like that.
Then the ball was snapped, I saw AB open on a crossing route but I knew he would have to fight for yardage and the clock could run out. Ben threw him the ball and in that moment it felt like time stopped. All I saw was a determined AB fighting to get in the end zone. Then C.J. Mosley came over and I wondered if he would get in.
Brown, getting grabbed by his facemask and somehow ducking under an incoming Mosley, fought his way into the endzone by stretching the ball across the line.
It was at this moment I knew that Ben had finally done something I hadn’t seen since 2008. He drove the ball down the field while the clock was his enemy, and trusted his best WR to have a signature moment that we hadn’t seen since the player they traded to acquire Brown in the draft, Santonio Holmes, had caught the game winning touchdown in Superbowl 43.
The Steelers had clinched their ticket to the playoffs and Ben showed the world that he can still do it. He gave me reason to believe in him again, especially after what I heard motivate him during that drive.
“I heard a handful of kids behind me just kind of saying, ‘Let’s go Ben, you can do it, we believe in you, you’re our favorite.’ Something like that, you know and you hear a lot of the negative, that just kind of washed all the negative away,” said Roethlisberger. “As I was standing on the sideline, I remember as I was standing there praying and doing some thinking on the sideline, I remember thinking to myself and praying, ‘I want to go do it for those kids.'”
This reminded me of how I felt before all these off field incidents happened with Ben Roethlisberger. This is how I always felt about him before those incidents happened, that he would go down the field and win it for the kids who believed in him.
I was 11 at the time, could you blame me for feeling that way?
Maybe I’m just rooting for him to relive that special moment I experienced as an 11 year old. People can say, “You wouldn’t even care about him if it weren’t for those Superbowl titles.” My rebuttal is this, would you care about Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers if they never won a Superbowl, even if the talent level on the team was so superior? I see NBA fans that supported Kobe Bryant, even when he went through his allegations.
People and fans of other teams are going to be rooting for Ben to fail because of past allegations, and because they can’t stand the Steelers, just like I can’t stomach the Patriots. I was the same way with Ray Lewis and the Ravens. I, and many others, did not want to see that team, and of course him, go out a champion. It seemed like a Hollywood ending for Ravens fans, especially with how they got there but to Steelers fans, it felt like they were in terrible nightmare.
All Steelers fans want is to relive that moment they felt in Superbowl 43, for Ben to win one more before he starts to decline in his level of play. I want to relieve that childhood moment and damn the fans of the other 31 teams who think this is wrong.
No matter the interceptions, no matter the hits and no matter what happens on Sunday, I will go into this game believing that Ben will get the job done. I have faith in this team and that Ben will step up to the moment.
Ben, no matter what happens, even if the outcome of the game doesn’t end well, I believe in you, Steelers Nation believes in you and so do all of your fans.
Damn those that wish to see you fail.
We’re behind you 100-percent and want nothing but the best for you in this game. Go give the Chiefs hell.