“The chips were against us there at the end . Troy made a great play, and you think you just kick the field goal, and you win. Sometimes that doesn’t happen, and you have to go back out there and make a stop. That was big.” — Brett Keisel, during his post-game comments.
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Ray Fittipaldo:
For a while there Sunday afternoon the season opener against the Atlanta Falcons was looking a lot like many games for the defense last season. The offense handed the defense a lead in the fourth quarter, and the defense allowed a tying score.
But when the game was on the line the defense created two opportunities for the offense to win the game.
Dennis Dixon has started two games and both have gone into overtime. Dixon was the quarterback Nov. 29 when the Ravens beat the Steelers, 20-17.
September 9th – Steelers 19, Titans 11
“We are pleased to be 2-0, but we are not astounded by it. We’re capable.” — Coach Tomlin after the win.
From the Beaver County Times‘ Mike Bires:
That the Pittsburgh Steelers sit atop the AFC North standings after two weeks is surprising in itself. But how they got there is nothing short of mind boggling.
They’ve won two games, but have scored only one offensive touchdown.
They ascended to first place in the division with basically their third and fourth quarterbacks.
They lost Dennis Dixon with a left knee injury in the second quarter and had to play Charlie Batch.
September 23rd – Steelers 38, Buccaneers 13
“We knew he had a good arm. It did kind of surprise me they made those plays down the field.” — Buccaneers strong safety Sean Jones, talking about the play of Charlie Batch.
From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review‘s Scott Brown:
Charlie Batch, with his sizzling play, evoked a different time than the recent period in which he was admittedly “the odd man out” at quarterback and often idle during Steelers practices at St. Vincent College.
Looking like the player who was once considered one of the top backups in the NFL, Batch threw for 186 yards and three touchdowns Sunday in leading the Steelers to a 38-13 rout of the Buccaneers.
Batch threw a pair of touchdown passes in the quarter, including a 41-yarder that bounced off the hands of cornerback Aqib Talib and into the waiting ones of wide receiver Mike Wallace.
It was that kind of day for Batch and the Steelers, who also grinded out 201 rushing yards at Raymond James Stadium and scored their first touchdowns of the season in regulation.
Ben is back with the team…
“It’s not like I have Mike Tomlin standing behind me to reinforce what I say. But I might as well have. [Ben’s] been very coachable. He’s fired up to do this. I was a little intimidated at first, because I didn’t know what to expect. But he’s excited to come to work every day when I’m with him, and he’s putting his time to good use.” — Quarterback Coach George Whitfield, on working with Ben.
September 28th – From SI.com‘s Peter King:
George Whitfield, a quarterback coach from San Diego, was hired by Roethlisberger’s agent, Ryan Tollner, to work privately with Roethlisberger for his four weeks away from the Steelers. Whitfield commutes from California each week and tries to simulate a regular Wednesday-Thursday-Friday practice week at a high school in Pittsburgh.
One thing Roethlisberger is happy about, Whitfield said, is to work on some of the mechanical things a quarterback never has time to do during a normal season. “He likes the fact that this is like a one-month mechanics camp,” Whitfield said. “He’s a very self-aware quarterback. He’ll say, ‘I pat the ball, I overstride, sometimes I’m sloppy in my drop — let’s work on those things,’ “Whitfield said. “I think he’s been very happy to be able to take some time to work on things he believes will make him a better player.”
“I think he’s going to come back sharper and hungrier,” Whitfield said. “He’s really focused right now.”
You can take a trip down memory lane and check out the photos from Ben’s workouts with Mr. Whitfield here.
October 5th – Both Coach Tomlin and Mr. Whitfield were interviewed on radio shows about Ben:
“His conditioning is not a concern at all and if you lay eyes on him you’ll understand what I’m talking about. He’s in great physical shape. His arm is in great shape. He’s ready for work…it’s just about being sharp – being football sharp, being able to recognize and identify pressure packages and change protection points and distribute the ball. And that’s football. That’s why we’re working today. But ultimately you’ve got to be able to do that under duress and sometimes the only duress that is legitimate is inside stadiums so we understand that his progress is going to be measured on how he does in the stadium next Sunday and moving forward.” – Coach Tomlin on Ben, during his radio interview on “The Sirius Blitz” on Sirius NFL Radio.
“I’ve been looking forward to talking to the Steel City about their leader. In regard to Ben being ready… He’s ready. He’s been through a one-man training camp. It was meticulous, it was filmed, it was Western PA blue collar style. He’s ready, he’s sharp, the guy’s in great shape and more than anything he’s excited. So you blend all that together and I think when they uncage him in 13 days, he’s gonna be ready to go. I think you guys will be excited.” — Mr. Whitfield, as a guest on 93.7 The Fan.
Let the games begin…
October 17th – Steelers 28, Browns 10
“I don’t think that it really hit me until I was pulling up to the stadium. Being on the field before the game got a little emotional. I felt like it was a pretty good day, I felt like I left a lot of plays out there a few plays here and there, obviously the interception I just got a little antsy Mewelde Moore was open I wanted to get him the ball right away when I needed to just settle down and get it to him. That being said we won the game and did pretty well on offense.” – Ben, during his post-game press conference.
From the AP:
Ben Roethlisberger, cheered loudly during his first game in 9-1/2 months, shook off the rust from his four-game suspension to throw three touchdown passes, and the Pittsburgh Steelers shut down a depleted Cleveland Browns offense during a 28-10 victory Sunday.
With the Steelers (4-1) leading 7-3 but backed up to their own 4 late into the third quarter, Roethlisberger — flashing the big-play ability his team lacked without him — completed passes of 50 yards to Mike Wallace and 36 yards to Heath Miller on successive plays.
Three plays later, Hines Ward fought through two potential tacklers on an 8-yard touchdown catch that made it 14-3 and gave the Steelers’ defense all the points needed on a mostly dominating day. The Browns fell to 1-5.
October 24th – Steelers 23, Dolphins 22
“Ben Roethlisberger knows he going to get hit, but he stands in the pocket and still delivers the pass. This was a game where Big Ben took over…the Steelers are the best team in the league with Ben Roethlisberger.” – Tom Waddle, sports anchor for NFLN’s Game Day Scoreboard show.
From the Palm Beach Post:
Roethlisberger was almost unstoppable in the second quarter, throwing a 21-yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward and a 53-yarder to Mike Wallace to help the Steelers’ take a 17-16 halftime lead.
Roethlisberger finished the half 12 of 16 for 195 yards and two touchdowns, while Ward had four catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. On Wallace’s touchdown, he slipped right past Jason Allen for an easy catch.
November 9th – Steelers 27, Bengals 21
“That was the ‘tie the shoe’ block (laughs) – I acted like I’m going to tie my shoe and just get in the way. I just lay on the ground and look and see Mike Wallace make the play, and you know Antwaan is going to put it there.” – Ben to ESPN’s Suzy Kolber talking about the Randle El to Wallace touchdown.
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Ed Bouchette:
The highlight of the second half was Randle El’s 39-yard touchdown to Wallace, who caught five passes for 110 yards. Randle El took a handoff from Roethlisberger, who threw a block, and Randle El hit Wallace in the end zone. “You have to give Ben props for that block,” Randle El said.
November 21st – Steelers 35, Raiders 3
“He’s not like most quarterbacks. In fact, very few are that big, that tough, and that willing to lay it all out there to get in the end zone.” – Former NFL quarterback and current CBS color commentator Dan Fouts, during the game.
From the fantasy football perspective at Rotoworld:
Big Ben channeled his inner Vick on Sunday with a career fantasy performance. He feasted on a Raider secondary missing Pro Bowl CB Nnamdi Asomugha, and connected with eight different wideouts, although his signature play of the day came on a second-quarter 16-yard touchdown scramble that would put the game away at 14-3.
November 28th – Steelers 19, Bills 16
“Roethlisberger ran for 55 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown run, in a win over Oakland two weeks ago. He converted a key third-down play with an 18-yard scramble this past week against Buffalo, a run that coach Mike Tomlin called ‘a significant, uplifting play for our football team.’ ” — Mark Kaboly, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
More from Mark Kaboly’s article:
Roethlisberger suffered a right foot injury against Buffalo and will spend the better part of the week in a protective boot. He’s expected to start against Baltimore in Sunday’s key AFC North matchup, but the running may be put on the back burner.
In each of the past four games, Roethlisberger has decided to run for a big play rather than throw.
He had first-down scramble runs against Cincinnati and New England before his career-high rushing day against Oakland.
Against the Bills, he looked downfield once he slipped the sack attempt of Chris Kelsay. Despite being chased by Marcus Stroud, Roethlisberger turned upfield and juked Jairus Byrd near the first-down marker. The 18-yard gain on a third-and-17 play led to a go-ahead field goal.
“Almost like what you did when you played in the backyard as a kid,” Buffalo safety Donte Whitner said.
December 6th – Steelers 13, Ravens 10
“You can not give enough credit to Ben Roethlisberger either – came in with a bad foot, blew his nose up in the first few plays, hung in there the entire night – great performance. What a football game!” – NBC Sports NFL football color announcer Cris Collinsworth during the game.
“I look like I just went 12 rounds with [Manny] Pacquiao.” – Ben, after the game.
From The National Football Post:
Despite an aggravated broken foot and a bloody, broken nose twisted awkwardly into a strange shape, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger refused to lose.
The gritty signal caller engineered a critical 13-10 comeback victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night at M&T Bank Stadium, propelling his team into sole possession of first place atop the AFC North.
The Steelers were led by Roethlisberger, who threw the game-winning touchdown pass to fullback Isaac Redman in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
“Sometime in the first half, I got hit in the face,” Roethlisberger said. “I didn’t even realize it was that bad until I went over to the sidelines and guys were looking at me funny…
“I looked real quick. It hopefully will be fixed tomorrow.”
What about the broken foot?
“It hurt a lot, but that broken nose took some of the pain away,” Roethlisberger said.
The Ravens tipped their hats to Roethlisberger, extremely respectful of his toughness and ability.
“That’s his thing,” said cornerback Josh Wilson, who intercepted Roethlisberger once. “He’s going to get hit, and he’s going to break loose. He’s a tough guy, a great player.”
December 12th – Steelers 23, Bengals 7
“Our defense is just something else. Troy and I always talk before the last couple of games. I tell him to do something magical and he tells me to do something magical. Troy always does it. It’s something special, that whole unit…” – Ben, during post-game comments.
From the Toronto Sun:
Troy Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley both returned Carson Palmer interceptions for touchdowns to carry the Pittsburgh Steelers over the downtrodden Cincinnati Bengals, 23-7, in a battle between the best and worst of the AFC North at Heinz Field.
The Steelers (10-3) maintained the top spot in the division despite not scoring an offensive TD, as their defense held the bottom-dwelling Bengals to 190 total yards en route to a fourth straight victory.
Cincinnati (2-11) has now lost 10 straight, its longest skid since opening the 1993 campaign 0-10.
Ben Roethlisberger, playing with a bandage around the nose he broke in last week’s critical win over Baltimore, connected on 21-of-33 throws for 258 yards, 115 of which went to Hines Ward on eight hookups.
December 23rd – Steelers 27, Panthers 3
“He’s a ‘Night at the Improv’ every time he comes to work. He reminds me of John Elway.” – Former NFL linebacker and current NFLN game analyst Matt Millen referring to Ben during the game.
From NBC Sports website:
Ben Roethlisberger completed 22-of-32 passes for 320 yards and one touchdown while adding a second score on the ground to lead the Steelers to a 27-3 victory over the Panthers in a dominant Week 16 performance.
Shaking off another bloody nose, Big Ben was on fire early, completing 13 of his first 15 passes for 198 yards and a score by late in the second quarter. Both players did a nice job of reading the blitz and changing to a hot route when Roethlisberger hit Mike Wallace for a 43-yard touchdown to jump out to a 10-0 lead. Even with a huge lead, play-caller Bruce Arians kept the pedal to the medal until the fourth quarter, allowing Big Ben to clear the 300-yard mark.
January 2nd – Steelers 41, Browns 9
“We have been through a lot. Now, it’s playoff time.” – Ben, during his post-game comments.
From Tom Withers, AP:
Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes as the Steelers geared up for another Super Bowl run by winning their division and securing a first-round playoff bye with a 41-9 win Sunday over Cleveland. He finished 15 of 22 for 280 yards and has gone 158 consecutive attempts without throwing an interception, the longest streak of his career.
In winning its third division title in four years, Pittsburgh guaranteed itself at least one postseason home game.
Roethlisberger, who got to rest most of the second half, threw a 56-yard TD to Mike Wallace on his first pass. The Steelers (11-5) built a 31-3 halftime lead and rocked the rival Browns (5-11).
January 15th – AFC Division Game, Steelers 31, Ravens 24
“Right now I don’t feel anything but joy!” — Ben, when asked about the “beating” he took during the game.
From the New York Daily News‘ Hank Gola:
Ben Roethlisberger broke the Ravens hearts again.
In a play that will go down as one of the biggest in the rich history of the Steelers, Roethlisberger completed a 58-yard pass to rookie Antonio Brown on third-and-19 from the Steeler 39 to set up Rashard Mendhall’s two-yard TD with 1:39 left. The 31-24 win sent the Steelers to their second AFC Championship Game in three years. They will either visit the Patriots or host the Jets.
It was Roethlisberger’s eighth straight win over the Ravens and his third in the post-season and it came on a day where they sacked him six times. But Roethlisberger, who threw for two third quarter TDs, emerged from the backyard brawl whistling again.
January 23rd – AFC Championship Game – Steelers 24, Jets 19
“Just how awesome it is.” – Ben, when asked what he was thinking when he buried his face in a Championship t-shirt after the win.
John P. Lopez, SI.com:
Ben Roethlisberger’s name is within range of being up there with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning when it comes to the NFL’s most elite quarterbacks. He may not put up gaudy numbers or flash stylish form, but this effort illustrated the entire palate of greatness Roethlisberger possesses — save for a hairy moment when he bobbled a snap and took a safety.
Don’t look at the numbers. Look at what Roethlisberger did. He improvised, extended plays and showed the will of a champion. Early, Roethlisberger managed a run-oriented attack. Later, he picked apart maybe the best secondary in football.
And even after the loss in Super Bowl XLV it was…
“A fabulous season, actually. I hope you can see that through your tears.” — Ron Cook, columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
More from Mr. Cook’s column yesterday:
I repeat: It has been a fabulous season.
There will be plenty of time to analyze what the Steelers need to do before next season, if there is a next season, what with the ugly labor situation between the owners and players. They must address their weak secondary, especially the cornerback position. They also must get better on the offensive line even though Adams and his pals gave everything they had every day of the season.
But, for now, I prefer to take a look back and remember the joy the Steelers brought us the past six months.
Along the way…
December 29th – Ben was unanimously selected as the “Chief Award” winner – an honor that is given annually to the Steelers player that is most helpful and cooperative with the media.
The award is voted on annually by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association. The award is named after Steelers founder, Art Rooney.
“Anything named after ‘The Chief’ or the Rooney family is an honor,” he said. “So it is an honor.”
It was the first time in 23 years that a quarterback has won the award.
January 5th – Ben named both AFC Offensive Player of the Week and Steelers Digest Player of the Week for his performance against the Cleveland Browns on January 2nd.
The Steelers 41-9 win also secured them the AFC North title. Ben completed 15 of 22 passes for 280 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 141.3 passer rating.
Ben finished the regular season having completed 240 passes for 3,200 yards, 17 touchdowns and just five interceptions. It’s the fifth consecutive year he has thrown for over 3,000 yards.
He also finishes the regular season with the third best quarterback rating (96.98) in the AFC, behind only Tom Brady and Philip Rivers…after missing four games.
“It’s all about team – offense, defense and special teams. It’s about how close this locker room is. Maybe a better word, team is a sub-word, family is better. You start with the coaches, owners, and the Rooney family. We are family. That is the better word.” – Ben, on the success of this year’s team.
*A personal “Thank you” to the many fans who have emailed this season with both your comments and your compliments! Erin