View Full Version : Commentary: Roethlisberger keeps Steelers' party going

01-16-2011, 08:33 AM
Commentary: Roethlisberger keeps Steelers' party going
Published: Sunday, January 16, 2011, 6:30 AM
JIM CARLSON, The Patriot-News By JIM CARLSON, The Patriot-News

Roethlisberger kept the Steelers' season alive against the Ravens in a 31-24 win Saturday night.

Somewhere, high above us all on Saturday night, Dandy Don Meredith was tuning up.

The late Dandy Don, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback known more for his “Monday Night Football” broadcasting fame with Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford, was well known for belting out the out-of-tune lyrics of “Turn out the lights, the party’s over; they say that all good things must end.”

His little ditty (not P Diddy) particularly angered Steelers fans in 1980 when the wheels began to fall off of their 1970s dynasty team because of old age and injuries.

Saturday night at Pittsburgh’s jam-packed, emotion-filled Heinz Field, the wheels were falling off this year’s Steelers, and it looked like a good season was going to end. The Steelers trailed 21-7 at the half because an interference call and two fumbles deep in their own territory led to three touchdowns for the Baltimore Ravens.

But 30 football minutes and countless anxious moments later, the Steelers, with an improbable 31-24 victory, qualified for their second AFC title game in three years and their fifth since 2001.

Their second-half effort was nothing less than a superb one that prompted Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to say postgame that “guys just want to fight for each other.”

At the outset, all either team wanted to do was fight. Things got chippy and at times cheap.

Roethlisberger was harassed, hassled, haggled and harangued by Terrell Suggs and the Ravens’ defense. He fumbled once when hit from behind, he held the ball too long on more than one occasion, and he overthrew a couple of receivers in crucial spots.

But he never quit being Ben Roethlisberger. He picked up a key first down with the game tied at 21 on a sneak on which his legs churned for about 20 yards but his body moved only the necessary yard and a half.

He fired strikes to Hines Ward on third-down plays.

He played football the way he used to live his life — in a reckless fashion.

He’s sorry for his past, well-documented transgressions, and as part of his preseason apology he told Steelers fans he’d play the best football he could possibly play.

He’s held up both ends of that bargain this year, Saturday night in particular.

The Ravens certainly helped him succeed with their own mishandling of the ball, but that was simply the first half in reverse. Those turnovers evened out.

Finally, when Roethlisberger fired a late 59-yard bullet to Antonio Brown to set up the winning touchdown, it prompted his coach, Mike Tomlin, to later say about him, “He’s a competitor and a winner, and those guys follow him.”

They’ll follow him to New England next Sunday if the Patriots win today. If the Jets win today — and they’ve already won this past week’s war of words — the Steelers will get to host the AFC title game.

Whomever and wherever they play next Sunday, the Steelers will follow Roethlisberger either to the Super Bowl or to the golf course.

For at least another week, this Steeler party ain’t over.

There are a lot of people you could thank for that. In my eyes, No. 7 was just dandy.

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