Complete games are a rarity in the NFL, and this goes for any team. Even the best teams only have a few games per season in which the offense, defense and special teams all play at a high level. But this is what teamwork is all about, to help pick up the slack for a player or a unit if it struggles, and also for the struggling player/unit to find a way to do enough to help the team win in the end.
With that concept of teamwork in mind, I'm beginning to believe that Ben Roethlisberger is a much better team player than anybody on the defense. In the past, whenever the defense has played at a high level but the offense has struggled, Roethlisberger has still been able to do enough in the end to help the team get the win more often than not, preserving the effort of the defense in the process.
The same cannot be said when Roethlisberger has played at a high level but the defense has struggled, and this debacle against the Raiders is even more proof of that. How many times in the last few years have we seen the offense give the team the lead and the defense fail to protect it? How many times have we seen the offense make a lead more comfortable only for the defense to make it uncomfortable again?
This is basically what happened to the Steelers in 2009, when Roethlisberger played at a high level but the Steelers missed the playoffs anyway because the defense blew five fourth-quarter leads -- and it would have been six if Roethlisberger didn't torch the Packers for 503 yards. Of course, he threw for 119 fewer yards against the Raiders yesterday, so shame on him for not coming through.
I'm really getting sick and tired of the defense getting a pass when they **** up. When the defense plays well and the offense struggles, the defense gets all the glory, but when the offense plays well and the defense struggles, people blame the offense anyway and proclaim that Roethlisberger isn't good enough to carry the team, even though that's exactly what he did today.
At least Roethlisberger knows how to dig deeper when it matters most, even when he has an off-day. The defense doesn't, at least not consistently enough. It's reached the point where I'd rather the Steelers be trailing by one score late with the ball in Roethlisberger's hands than leading by one score late with the defense trying to protect the lead.
It's time for the defense to stop wasting Roethlisberger's best efforts, because seldom has he wasted theirs.