From Jeremy Fowler, ESPN.com:
Ben Roethlisberger won’t let Steelers fall out of playoff picture
Nearly four weeks ago, Ben Roethlisberger stood near his locker and delivered two simple words about his leadership plans for the season’s second half: Follow me.
Since then, Roethlisberger has 1,085 yards passing, eight touchdown passes, one interception and three wins, none bigger than Sunday’s over the New York Giants, 24-14.
When the Pittsburgh Steelers faced trouble midway through the third quarter, Roethlisberger delivered the kind of drive that only a handful of humans could orchestrate.
He strong-armed a 33-yard completion through a pocket full of Giants.
He launched a well-timed ball to the sideline to a toe-tapping Antonio Brown.
“Total trust. I trust him, and he trusts and believes in me.” — Ben, on that touchdown pass to Antonio Brown.
He lofted a pass over the head of safety Landon Collins for a 20-yard score to Ladarius Green, who’s clearly become the Steelers’ second receiving option behind Brown.
On a day the Steelers had to have it, Big Ben was at his biggest, answering a Giants touchdown drive and keeping the lead at 14 before letting Le’Veon Bell handle most of the fourth quarter. Roethlisberger was 4-of-4 for 71 yards on that drive.
It was brilliant performance and the difference in the game.
And don’t think he’s not still motivated by playing Eli Manning, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 draft and 10 picks above Roethlisberger — who looked like the better quarterback 12 years later.
The defense was just as bullish, baiting Manning into two interceptions and holding Odell Beckham Jr. to 105 yards, a handful of those in garbage time.
Whatever Roethlisberger is doing on offense, James Harrison is matching it on defense; two thirtysomethings putting up numbers at the right time. Harrison has five sacks in his past five games and has applied pressure many other times.
On the game-sealing sack of Manning on fourth down midway through the fourth, at least four Steelers were involved in the takedown. Ricardo Mathews got the credit, but many Steelers were around the ball all game. That includes Sean Davis with his first career interception, Mike Mitchell with two third-down pass breakups and Lawrence Timmons’ field-flipping interception from underneath coverage.
“It’s that time of year when we have to be our best selves. Everyone has to do their job.” — Ben.
A team that underachieved for the better part of two months is peaking at the perfect time. That Week 10 loss to Dallas could have crushed the Steelers. Instead, it galvanized them.
With the Baltimore Ravens pounding the Miami Dolphins earlier Sunday, the Steelers couldn’t afford to fall to 6-6 with four weeks left. The AFC North division is the only clear path to the playoffs, and that Steelers-Ravens matchup on Christmas Day sets up nicely for Pittsburgh.
The Steelers’ quarterback likes his chances.
More from Mr. Fowler here.
You can watch Ben’s post-game interview here.
You can check out the video with game highlights here.
2nd photo credit: Matt Freed.
*Ben completed 67 percent of his passes for 298 yards, and he helped the Steelers convert 50 percent on possession downs – 7-of-15 on third downs, and 1-for-1 on fourth down.
“Ben Roethlisberger-Antonio Brown have tied Terry Bradshaw-Lynn Swann (49) for the most QB-WR touchdown connections in #Steelers history.” — Dom Rinelli, Steelers (via Twitter).
And one more look…
this time, by the designer/artist after the game:
David E. Zambrano @dezcustomz
For @_BigBen7 worn today for #mycausemycleats NFL week 13.