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costanza2k1
12-16-2008, 07:56 AM
Steelers bask in glow of comeback
Buzz up!
By Scott Brown, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ben Roethlisberger
Chaz Palla/Tribune-Review
Rising to the occasion

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger seems to be at his best when the Steelers need it most. Here is a look at the fourth-quarter rallies he has led this season:

10/5 at Jacksonville Situation: Steelers trail, 21-20, when they get the ball on their own 20-yard line with 6:33 left. Drive: : 11 plays, 80 yards in 4:40. Roethlisberger: : completes 6-of-8 passes for 61 yards and a touchdown and the Steelers win, 26-21.

11/16 San Diego Situation: Steelers trail, 10-8, when they get the ball on their 13 with 6:41 left. Drive: 13 plays, 72 yards in 6:30. Roethlisberger: completes all seven of his pass attempts for 62 yards, setting up Jeff Reed's 32-yard field goal. Steelers win, 11-10.

12/7 Dallas Situation: Steelers trail, 13-6, when they get the ball on their 33 with 5:10 left. Drive: 8 plays, 67 yards in 3:06. Roethlisberger: completes 4-of-6 passes for 57 yards and a touchdown and rushes two times for 10 yards. After Steelers tie the score, cornerback Deshea Townsend returns an interception 25 yards for a touchdown and a 20-13 win.

12/14 at Baltimore Situation: Steelers trail, 9-6, when they get the ball on their 8 with 3:36 left. Drive: 12 plays, 92 yards in 2:53. Roethlisberger: completes 7-of-11 passes one of the incompletions is a spike to stop the clock for 89 yards and a touchdown as the Steelers beat the Ravens, 13-9, to clinch the AFC North title.
About the writer

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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After the Steelers' latest and perhaps most satisfying come-from-behind win, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger lingered on the field to bask in the glow of it.

He did not show nearly the same urgency in getting to the locker room as he had in leading the Steelers to the end zone not more than 15 minutes earlier, and Mike Tomlin finally said, "C'mon, No. 7, let's go."

Before the two disappeared into the cramped visiting quarters at M&T Bank Stadium, Roethlisberger said to the second-year coach, "I may be late, but I'm always on time."

Nothing more accurately captures the season Roethlisberger is having and, specifically, what he did in front of a record crowd and to an equally hostile defense Sunday in Baltimore.

He led a 92-yard drive that culminated in the only touchdown of the game, and the timing of Roethlisberger's fourth-quarter heroics could not have been better for the Steelers.

Their 13-9 win over the Ravens clinched the AFC North title and assured them of a first-round playoff bye. If the Steelers win their remaining two games, they will earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

If a defense that hasn't surrendered more than 300 yards of total offense in a game is a major reason why the Steelers' are Super Bowl contenders, so is Roethlisberger's uncanny knack for elevating his play when his team needs it most.

The win at Baltimore represented the fourth time this season Roethlisberger has led a fourth-quarter drive that tied the score or put the Steelers ahead for good. For his career, the fifth-year veteran has rallied the Steelers from a fourth-quarter deficit 17 times.

"He's one of those guys that can get out and make plays," Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said. "That's a special skill that most quarterbacks have."

It is becoming increasingly clear that the tenser the moment, the calmer Roethlisberger is. In those fourth-quarter drives this season, Roethlisberger has displayed the patience and precision of a surgeon. He has completed 75 percent of his passes on those drives and thrown for 269 yards and three touchdowns.

"He's done it time and time again," Tomlin said of Roethlisberger's play in the clutch. "A lot's been said about our offensive struggles, particularly here in the last couple of weeks. But one thing that's been consistent is when we have to move the ball, we do."

When asked who sets the tone for that mindset, Tomlin said without hesitation, "Our quarterback."

The drive Roethlisberger engineered late in the fourth quarter against the Ravens may have been his most impressive of the season -- if not his career -- given the stakes involved and the caliber of Baltimore's defense.

The third-down play that capped it was vintage Roethlisberger.

He rolled left to avoid pressure, reversed field after he saw a couple of Ravens defenders blocking his path to the end zone and fired a 4-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes.

Officials initially ruled Holmes down inside the 1 after he was pushed out of the end zone as he caught the pass. The call was reversed following an official review of the play after it was determined that Holmes had established both feet in the end zone on the catch and that the ball had broken the plane of the goal line.

After the game, Roethlisberger couldn't help but take a dig at those who have criticized him for trying to do too much to keep plays alive.

Of his game-winning touchdown pass, Roethlisberger said, "I scrambled back to the right 'cause, you know, I hang onto the ball too long."

He didn't want to let the moment go after the Steelers had snapped a five-game losing streak in Baltimore and run their own winning streak to five games. That is why Tomlin had to deliver a playful nudge to get Roethlisberger into the locker room.

But if there are parts of his game that still need honing, Roethlisberger showed in Baltimore that he has mastered the seemingly impossible trick of arriving late yet somehow showing up just on time.