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Ben Roethlisberger’s willingness to do no matter it takes to win made him the last word Steelers QB

If one makes an attempt to conjure the second that shall eternally outline Ben Roethlisberger as a quarterback, there is just one sequence that moderately involves thoughts: He holds the ball as he scans the north finish zone at Raymond James Stadium, pump fakes to the flat to maybe draw defenders away from the purpose line, factors together with his left hand as if calling his shot after which fires a move that could be essentially the most audacious within the six a long time of the league’s showpiece championship recreation.

Three defenders are adjoining to the goal when Roethlisberger releases the soccer. How can he see Santonio Holmes? How may anybody conceive that receiver to be open? However Cardinals cornerback Ralph Brown’s determined leap is launched from too distant a place to be greater than a distraction to Holmes. Security Aaron Francisco’s late push forces Holmes over the sideline however doesn’t dislodge the ball. Nook Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is simply there to be a part of the {photograph}. The Steelers, upon video affirmation, full probably the most dramatic Tremendous Bowl comebacks and declare their sixth Lombardi Trophy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whfjhgw9NRQ

One way or the other this episode by no means has turn into as extensively celebrated because the much less difficult and fewer consequential “Catch” by Dwight Clark from Joe Montana within the 1982 NFC championship recreation, in the identical manner Invoice Mazeroski’s 1960 World Collection house run is much less well-known than Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Around the World” to win the Nationwide League pennant 9 years earlier.

And possibly that is OK.

As a result of the second that really defines Ben Roethlisberger as a Steeler got here three years earlier, when he was in his second season and making an attempt to play a central position — however definitely to not carry the workforce — in pursuit of the group’s first Tremendous Bowl title since its Seventies dynasty.

MORE: Why Massive Ben is leaning towards retirement

It was not one of the 474 touchdowns he produced or the 5,879 passes the threw throughout his 18 seasons. Becoming for a franchise that reworked protection into a faith by means of the work of such prophets as Imply Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham and Mel Blount, the definitive play of Roethlisberger’s profession was a sort out. It was determined and awkward and under no circumstances safe, however the ballcarrier wound up on the bottom earlier than true calamity may ensue, and that was sufficient.

The best quarterback within the franchise’s historical past confirmed himself, in that second, to be each bit a Steeler.

It was Pittsburgh sports activities discuss host Mark Madden (WXDX, 105.9 FM) who made this level on a latest broadcast, and he was nearly totally appropriate. His reasoning leaned laborious on how Roethlisberger rescued Corridor of Fame teammate Jerome Bettis from ignominy, and absolutely he did, however extra so it was Roethlisberger’s willingness to make no matter play was required to guarantee victory, in the way in which such pure Steelers as Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, Larry Brown and Carnell Lake had by means of the years.

“I have been right here a very long time, and it has been loads of enjoyable. God has blessed me . . . It was meant to be that I used to be going to put on black and gold,” Roethlisberger stated Sunday. “I hope that I used to be in a position to move the legacy of what it’s to be a Steeler from Dan Rooney. All of us miss him; everybody who knew him misses him. Hopefully I may move a few of that on to the blokes and proceed the custom of what it means to be a Steeler.

“When you begin to lose the outdated regime, if you’ll, you have to discover methods to move it down. And we have some guys in there that may proceed to do this.”

Roethlisberger performed his remaining recreation within the NFL on Sunday. His profession didn’t finish with a Tremendous Bowl victory, like John Elway or Peyton Manning or, for that matter, Bettis. It didn’t finish with him basking within the adoration of 60,000 Yinzers standing, chanting his title and, for the fortunate few, slapping his hand as he walked a victory lap round Heinz Area following Week 17’s Monday evening victory in opposition to the Browns.

There nonetheless was a recreation on the schedule after that, and thru a little bit of serendipity that appeared even much less probably than discovering a future Corridor of Fame QB competing for the Miami RedHawks within the Mid-American Convention, the Steelers prolonged their season by scratching their manner into the NFL playoffs. And there, in opposition to the two-time reigning AFC champion Chiefs, they endured a depressing offensive first half and did not reap the benefits of the 7-0 result in which T.J. Watt’s fumble return for a landing staked them. They misplaced 42-21, with Roethlisberger throwing the ultimate two landing passes of his profession merely to make the outcome seem much less embarrassing.

STEELERS-CHIEFS: Rating updates, highlights of Massive Ben’s Pittsburgh finale

It ended with him on the sector, taking part in critical soccer for what would be the remaining time of a life that has been consumed by the sport for greater than a quarter-century. It ended with the Steelers calling a timeout to provide him one final shot to really feel what it is prefer to throw the Steelers into the tip zone, solely to see the receiver on his remaining move, tight finish Zach Gentry, hit laborious 3 yards quick. It would not have altered the outcome — simply the margin. 

“We thought final week can be the tip. We did not know what was going to occur and . . . obtained blessed to play one other soccer recreation,” Roethlisberger stated. “It is a blessing to have the ability to play this recreation. How fortunate are we that we get to play soccer for a residing? Yeah, we’re on the market getting beat up, however we get to entertain hundreds of thousands of followers and throw, catch, run — do what we have all performed as youngsters. That is our job now.”

Properly, it was, for Roethlisberger, till today.

“I do not know if it is emotional as a result of it is simply the tip of the season. This may be emotional it doesn’t matter what,” he stated. “We by no means prefer to lose and exit, and I am going to miss these guys. It will most likely actually hit me come coaching camp time.”

This ending won’t fulfill the smallish however more and more amplified portion of Steeler Nation that views each outcome however a Lombardi Trophy as a large failure, but it surely’s not typically an athlete accepts a championship award as the ultimate act of his or her profession.

Roethlisberger, although, will go away the stage among the many statistical leaders in almost each main quarterbacking class: passing yards (No. 5), completions (No. 5), touchdowns (No. 8) and, amongst these with careers of 10 seasons or extra, passer score (No. 16). Extra vital to Roethlisberger, he would say, is he additionally ranks No. 5 in victories as a beginning QB, No. 6 in playoff victories, No. 2 in game-winning drives and No. 7  in profitable proportion amongst these with no less than 100 begins. The names in his firm are these instantly cited as the best within the sport’s historical past: Brady, Manning, Elway, Montana, Unitas.

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“God has blessed me with the flexibility to throw a soccer,” Roethlisberger stated. “He has blessed me to play within the best metropolis, in Pittsburgh, with the best followers and the best soccer workforce and gamers, and it has simply been actually a blessing. I am so grateful to Him for the chance He is given me.”

Roethlisberger departs with a profession that even supersedes the good Terry Bradshaw, who quarterbacked the workforce to 4 Tremendous Bowl victories and was within the Corridor about quarter-hour after he turned eligible. This has been my perception lately, and extra of those that chronicle the workforce have settled on this place. Certainly, Bradshaw has 4 Tremendous Bowl rings, and although Roethlisberger had an opportunity to match him, he didn’t have Swann, Stallworth and Franco to assist make this occur.

The distinction between the 2, although, is that Roethlisberger’s profession peak endured principally a decade, from 2008-18, whereas Bradshaw struggled so clearly in his early profession he even misplaced the beginning job on the open of the 1974 season, to Joe Gilliam, and didn’t achieve it again till greater than 1 / 4 of the schedule was accomplished. When Bradshaw uncovered the entire of his greatness starting in 1975, he started a stretch — interrupted by accidents in 1976 — Roethlisberger by no means matched. That included Bradshaw’s MVP season in 1978. It didn’t final lengthy, although, solely to 1981, when accidents started to usurp his excellence.

The sport-winning drive in Tremendous Bowl 43 was clearly not the one such event of Roethlisberger’s profession, simply essentially the most consequential. There was the one on Christmas Day 2016, when Antonio Brown’s “Immaculate Extension” attain over the purpose lline after fielding a Roethlisberger move clinched the AFC North title. There was the one within the 2010 AFC divisional spherical, which included Brown’s “helmet catch” for 57 yards. There was the one in Baltimore in 2008, when he discovered Holmes simply over the purpose line to say victory in one other of the rivals’ brutally intense duels.

OFF THE FIELD: ‘I’ve fallen as quick as anyone,’ QB stated in 2020

There’s a YouTube video rating Roethlisberger’s 10 best profitable drives. It runs solely 19 minutes, so one is unlikely to fall into such a rabbit gap for hours, until the temptation to observe it time and again proves to be too nice.

“It has been an honor and a pleasure,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, Massive Ben’s boss for 15 seasons, informed reporters. “I haven’t got the phrases.”

It frustrates many who observe the workforce that the easiest of Roethlisberger didn’t outcome even in a Tremendous Bowl look. When he led the NFL with 4,952 passing yards in 2014, the Steelers misplaced their first playoff recreation. When he recovered from a knee damage to throw for almost 4,000 yards in 12 video games in 2017, the Steelers misplaced within the divisional spherical to Denver. When he closed the 2016 season with six consecutive profitable begins, the workforce misplaced within the AFC championship recreation. All of these video games had been with star working again Le’Veon Bell lacking all or a lot of the recreation with accidents.

When Roethlisberger led in completions, makes an attempt and yards in 2018, the workforce was tormented by game-changing fumbles and missed discipline purpose makes an attempt and it missed the playoffs by a literal half-game. Teammates’ fumbles materially impacted Tremendous Bowl 45 in opposition to the Packers and the 2016 playoff loss at Denver. It’s the final workforce recreation.

Which is why Roethlisberger’s sort out in opposition to the Colts within the AFC divisional spherical must be the centerpiece of his legacy.

When it appeared sure Bettis would retire after the Steelers’ failure to achieve the 2004 Tremendous Bowl regardless of a 15-1 common season, Roethlisberger promised Bettis the Steelers would get him to a Tremendous Bowl if he returned.

MORE: Jerome Bettis’ eight best NFL moments

A sluggish begin that 12 months mandated a four-game profitable streak on the finish merely to make the playoffs. The workforce must play all its playoff video games on the street. The second of these can be in Indianapolis, in opposition to a No. 1-seed Colts workforce that includes Manning that had gained its first 13 video games and completed 14-2.

The Steelers surged to a 14-0 first-quarter lead, led 17-3 after three quarters and had been nonetheless had been forward by a discipline purpose after the Colts rallied for 2 fourth-quarter touchdowns. Then, on what figured to be the remaining likelihood for the Colts to tie or take the lead, they misplaced 16 yards on two sacks by Pittsburgh linebacker Joey Porter. The Steelers took over on downs on the Indy 2-yard line with 1:27 left, however the Colts had all their timeouts remaining, so it wasn’t attainable merely to kneel on the ball three or 4 instances and start with the ceremonial handshakes. The one strategy to guarantee a victory was to cross the purpose line with the soccer.

That they had 4 pictures out there. There was no explicit urgency to finish the sport on first down. Bettis, although, barreled into the road with one arm free and angled his physique to make the hand embracing the soccer available to the Colts’ protection. Linebacker Gary Brackett plunged his helmet into that concentrate on, and the soccer popped into the air and again 4 yards, with Indy cornerback Nick Harper there to scoop it up and Steelers middle Jeff Hartings too late to seize the ball or its provider.

Roethlisberger instantly started to retreat so he would have a possibility to interrupt Harper’s rampage. On the 36-yard line, Roethlisberger seized the chance to achieve and seize Harper’s proper shin, his hand sliding all the way down to the instep of Harper’s shoe and tripping him to the bottom. The Colts nonetheless had 1:09 and three timeouts however may solely put themselves in vary for a Mike Vanderjagt discipline purpose that will have tied it — had it not ended up 20 yards to the appropriate of the purpose posts.

Roethlisberger was on the sideline as that kick occurred. He was a helpless spectator like so many others who love the Steelers. That is the place he’ll spend autumn Sundays any further. In time, as soon as the recurring urge to play abates, he might discover he enjoys being part of Steeer Nation. For the previous 5 a long time, notably the 2 by means of which he served because the franchise’s basis, it has been a principally pleasant endeavor.

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