View Full Version : Ben returns to site of his debut

11-25-2006, 08:40 AM
By Mike Prisuta
Saturday, November 25, 2006

Ben Roethlisberger's first trip to Baltimore was more monumental than memorable in retrospect.
"I don't really remember much," Roethlisberger said of the NFL baptism he endured on Sept. 19, 2004. "I just remember thinking I was only going in for about a play or two, then maybe a series."

Instead, Roethlisberger became the Steelers' quarterback of the immediate and foreseeable future after taking over for an injured Tommy Maddox.

The Steelers trailed, 20-0, when Roethlisberger was summoned from the bench midway through the third quarter, and they wound up losing, 30-13.

Still, Big Ben showed them something.

More accurately, he confirmed what many had already come to suspect of and expect from the Steelers' No. 1 draft pick.

"Everybody knows what this kid can do," Steelers wide receiver Plaxico Burress said following the game. "He's going to be the future of this team eventually.

"It wouldn't be a bad time for him to go out and start."

Maddox was forced from the game after suffering an elbow injury while fumbling on the Steelers' first second-half possession.

The Ravens scored on the next play for a 20-0 lead.

Roethlisberger took his first NFL steps on the following series. They consisted of handing off five times before the Steelers punted.

Eventually, the Steelers allowed Roethlisberger to pass.

His second NFL attempt, intended for wide receiver Hines Ward, was intercepted by Baltimore linebacker Adalius Thomas.

Soon thereafter, things began to happen.

The Steelers spread the formation and asked Roethlisberger to throw on almost every snap in the fourth quarter.

His first big play went for 58 yards to Ward, but not before the ball bounced off the hands of Ravens safety Ed Reed and into Ward's waiting arms.

Roethlisberger's first NFL touchdown pass came two plays later, a 3-yard toss to wide receiver Antwaan Randle El.

The next time the Steelers got the ball they scored again, this time on a 12-yard Roethlisberger-to-Ward connection.

A subsequent two-point attempt to Burress fell incomplete. Roethlisberger came that close to bringing the Steelers back to within one score (at 23-15) with 6:15 remaining.

His afternoon ultimately ended on a 51-yard interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Chris McAlister, and with Roethlisberger getting sacked by safety Chad Williams just before the two-minute warning.

Not that Roethlisberger has many vivid recollections of his NFL debut.

"Just trying to figure out where (linebacker) Ray Lewis was on every play," Roethlisberger said. "A lot of stuff happened. I remember it all being kind of a big blur. Guys were moving a lot faster than I thought they could."

Roethlisberger wound up 12 for 20 for 176 yards, with two touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 82.5.

He was 10 of 16 in the fourth quarter, for 153 yards, with two TDs and an interception.

"Ben hadn't gotten many reps (in practice) that week," guard Alan Faneca recalled. "We weren't really in a mode where we could run the ball and help him out any, either.

"That's a tough defense for a rookie to come in and play against, especially not getting the reps, the looks in practice."

Roethlisberger had suffered a knee injury in practice the previous week, which curtailed an already-limited work schedule.

"He hung in there tough," Faneca said. "He just kept plugging away."

Added tight end Jerame Tuman: "I remember initially thinking, 'Oh, crap' (when Roethlisberger was initially forced into action). He had a little bit of nervousness or anxiousness, but he came in and he took it over.

"You started to see that he's in there to make some plays. You were able to see he didn't get rattled. For your first game as a quarterback, that's a tough one. And by him being able to come in and have the performance that he did, it opened a lot of guys' eyes."

The rest is 15-1 and Super Bowl-winning history.

One thing Roethlisberger hasn't achieved in his first two seasons is a win in Baltimore (he missed the Steelers' 16-13 overtime loss at M&T Bank Stadium last November while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery).

"You always want to win football games," Roethlisberger said.

That much hasn't changed since Sept. 19, 2004.

11-25-2006, 08:45 AM
Every time we play Baltimore in Baltimore at least one sports writer types up an article pertaining to this situation. Somebody needs to break it to them that it occurs once a season.

11-25-2006, 02:50 PM
Time for more paybacks!

11-25-2006, 06:53 PM
Wasn't Ben injured last year when we played them? I'm pretty sure the road game was one of the infamous Maddox episodes...

The road game. He played at home.

11-25-2006, 10:50 PM
That's what I meant. Ben hasn't actually played a game in Baltimore since his first ever.

Not that it makes any difference; I find those repeat articles just as annoying as anyone. A mere technicality, I suppose.

Anyway, let's hope we win tomorrow, unlike the last two games there..

Let's not worry about the last 2 and worry about the one ahead of us.