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Published: February 19, 2011
After missing the first four games of the regular season sitting out a suspension, Ben Roethlisberger led the Pittsburgh Steelers to the second seed in the AFC. He threw for over 3,000 yards and 17 touchdowns, with only five interceptions. Big Ben looked sharp heading into the playoffs, but he then forgot how to play a complete game.
In the divisional round against the Baltimore Ravens, Roethlisberger played less than stellar in the first half and had to lead his charges back in the second. The Steelers pulled out the game and two big dropped passes by Ravens wideouts largely played into the 31-25 outcome. Roethlisberger’s line ended up 19 for 32 for 226 yards and two touchdowns.
A week and a day later, the Steelers hosted the AFC Championship Game against the New York Jets and stormed out to a 24-0 second quarter lead. Rex Ryan’s crew seemed lost and a young Mark Sanchez looked overmatched. A late field goal put Gang Green on the board before the break and they looked like a different team in the second half. Two touchdown passes by Sanchez and a safety by Mike DeVito (who sacked Roethisberger in the end zone) put the Steelers on the brink of an epic collapse.
The Jets defense perplexed Big Ben and shut the Steelers out in the second half, but the deficit was too much to overcome. Even with an ineffective Roethlisberger the last two quarters, Pittsburgh held on by a 24-19 score and earned the Lamar Hunt Trophy, setting up a classic match-up in Super Bowl XLV with the Green Bay Packers.
Similar to the Baltimore game, the Pack started fast and had a 21-3 second quarter advantage, which included a 37-yard interception return off a wounded duck floater by Roethlisberger. Of course the Steelers rebounded and made this a very interesting game that came down to Green Bay needing a late stop to hold on for the 31-25 victory.
“They did a great job of taking away deep things and taking away the outside,” Roethlisberger said of the final offensive series. “You’re kind of stuck with very limited options there with that much time and no timeouts left. We just had to try to do what we could do.”
Roelisberger (25 for 40, 263 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions) was unable to do what Aaron Rodgers did. The Packers quarterback won the MVP Award with a memorable performance that included over 300 yards, three touchdowns and no picks.
Perhaps Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin summed it up best when asked to elaborate on his quarterback’s performance. “It was a losing one, just like mine.”
Photo by William J. Hauser
Tagged with: Afc Championship Game, Baltimore Ravens, Ben Roethlisberger, Big Ben, Brink, Complete Game, End Zone, Field Goal, Floater, Four Games, Green Bay Packers, Lamar Hunt, Lamar Hunt Trophy, Mark Sanchez, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Ravens, Rex Ryan, S Line, Super Bowl Xlv