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mesaSteeler
01-16-2011, 12:12 AM
Roethlisberger's redemption continues with big win
Posted 2h 24m ago | Comments 2 | Recommend 1 E-mail | Save |
http://www.usatoday.com/sports/columnist/lopresti/2011-01-15-roethlisberger-redemption_N.htm

By Mike Lopresti, Gannett
PITTSBURGH They roared for Ben Roethlisberger on Saturday night when he helped save the day. They waved their towels and shared his upraised-arms joy, and looked ahead for a shot at the Super Bowl. The dark days of 2010 were a long time ago, or at least sounded like it.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, down 21-7 at halftime, are still alive in the NFL playoffs and the quarterback is the toast of the town more or less having turned around the night with a 58-yard pass that set up the touchdown that beat the bitter enemies from Baltimore.

"I've got confidence in the guys," he would say later. "All I've got to do is throw it."

More than that, of course. And in the happy story of the Steelers, who showed once again Saturday why they are who they are with a 31-24 victory, nothing is more fascinating than the continuing rehabilitation of the image of their quarterback.

"Ben's a warrior," Hines Ward said. "When I see him in the huddle, I know I have a chance to win the ballgame."

The spring and summer, you probably recall, were terrible. That's when Roethlisberger's name picked up more mud than truck tires going down a rain-soaked dirt road.

The early fall was quiet. By then, the sexual assault charges had been dropped, and Roethlisberger was serving his NFL penitence, sitting through a four-game suspension and trying to prove his reform by saying and doing the right things.

Now it is winter, and this is when a quarterback's reclamation project can really pick up steam, given a few big plays. If the Steelers faithful of Pittsburgh have never unanimously forgiven Roethlisberger for dishonoring the uniform, they certainly were cheering for him loudly enough at crunch time Saturday night.

Score tied, 2:07 left, third-and-19 at the Pittsburgh 38. The original thought of the coaches was to throw short and punt. Roethlisberger suggested something bolder. So the Steelers lined up, and Roethlisberger saw Baltimore safety Ed Reed on the left side, meaning he certainly didn't want to go in that direction. He looked right instead to find rookie Antonio Brown open down the sideline and went deep.

"I threw it as far as I could," Roethlisberger said later, and Brown was there to catch it, ending up at the Baltimore 4. Soon after, Rashard Mendenhall scored the winning touchdown.

Right or wrong, nothing gets a wayward athlete out of the doghouse faster than victory. Particularly this type of victory.

"Everybody," Roethlisberger said of such moments, "digs a little deeper."

Some things never change. Twitter might have replaced human conversation, but it is January, and the Steelers defense is in force. Same as it's been forever. It crunched the Ravens the second half, holding them to 28 total yards.

Consider the five sacks on Baltimore's Joe Flacco, and the mistakes they forced.

"He was going to have to get rid of it fast or he was going to get sacked," linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. "He had two choices."

Consider the physical tone set that yanked the game away from Baltimore, in a duel that had the usual rancor, but more than the usual points.

"Those two teams are Hagler and Hearns out there," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said, evoking a famous ring rivalry.

"They asked for us. They keep asking for us," Ward said. "My mama always said be careful of what you ask for. At the end of the day, they've got to worry about this loss the whole offseason.

"They always pride themselves in bullying people. Sometimes when you are fighting the bully, you just have to hit them in the mouth and shut them up."

The Ravens, who seemed so solid and steady in rolling to their halftime lead, melted into a puddle of turnovers. A fumble, then an interception, then another fumble a botched snap from center of all things gave the Steelers the ball at the Ravens' 23, 25 and 23. The Steelers turned them into 17 points.

And leading this resolute charge was the quarterback.

There is an undeniable whiff of mixed feelings in Pittsburgh, particularly among the female constituency, unnerved by the allegations, even if no charges were ever filed. For a quarterback with two Super Bowl rings, you don't find that many Roethlisberger jerseys in the Heinz Field stands. Nothing close to Troy Polamalu.

But the Super Bowl beckons, New England might be next, and the past is old history.

*****

Mike Lopresti also writes for Gannett. Contact him at mlopresti@gannett.com.

pittguy578
01-16-2011, 12:20 AM
i really think he has changed..even from the way he answers questions after the game.

saveus1011
01-16-2011, 12:35 AM
Again, I'm sick of these asswads who don't support Big Ben. Past is the past, and honestly without him we're the WC team, and the Ravens are the Divison winners, and this game is played at M&T Bank Stadium.