Roethlisberger's More Than a Manager
You'll often hear it said that Ben Roethlisberger is a game manager. It's meant as a quasi-compliment/slap in the face for a quarterback who's not good enough to carry a team. It's a tag Roethlisberger began to develop during his rookie season when he was kept on a tight leash during a 15-1 season and one he earned for good when he played terribly but still was part of the Steelers' Super Bowl win over the Seahawks.
Never mind the fact that Roethlisberger was the key to the Steelers improbable run rhrough the AFC playoffs. The conventional wisdom had been set in stone: ask him to throw 20 passes a game and he can help you win. Ask him to throw 35 and he's likely to throw a crushing interception.
On Sunday, Roethlisberger threw only 22 passes. But he wasn't managing the game, he was carrying the Steelers offense on his shoulders. With both of his starting wide receivers sitting on the sideline and the Seahawks largely shutting down the Steelers running game, Roethlisberger connected on every key pass in the second and third quarter to turn a 0-0 game into a 21-0 Steelers romp. Roethlisberger missed on only one pass in the final three quarters and was a perfect seven-of-seven on third-down conversions over the final three quarters despite playing with the team's No. 3, 4 and 5 wide receivers.
Here's the breakdown of those third down passes:
Third-and-seven: Roethlisberger connects on an 8-yard pass to Heath Miller.
Third-and-three: Big Ben hits Miller for a 7-yard touchdown.
Third-and-11: Najeh Davenport gets free for a 40+ yard catch, but a holding penalty brings it back.
Third-and-13: The play after the holding penalty Cedric Wilson gets open for a 15-yard pass.
Third-and-seven: Heath Miller again, as the tight end catches a 13-yard pass.
Third-and-17: Wilson's turn again as he catches a 17-yarder.
Third-and-three: A short dump off pass to Najeh Davenport turns into 17 yards.
That's seven different plays where drives were on the line. It includes three conversions on third and more than 10. On Sunday at least Roethlisberger was more than a game manager.
Matt Hasselback is more than a game manager too, but on Sunday the Seahawks wide receivers could find no openings and Shaun Alexander is breaking no big plays. The combination left Hasselback battered and bruised and sitting on the bench for his own safety in the fourth quarter.
I knew Ben was on but I didn't know he was that on!