As Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger led his team down the field late in Sunday’s affair against the Indianapolis Colts, the veteran added a few personal milestones to his own resume.
The nine play 70-yard drive that concluded with kicker Chris Boswell’s walk off field goal was Roethlisberger’s first game winning drive of the season. It is also the quarterback’s first game winning drive since last season’s wild Christmas day victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Roethlisberger’s game winning drive against the Colts was also the 40th game winning drive of his career.
While Roethlisberger may not be in the position to put together game winning drives on a weekly basis like earlier in his career, this speaks more to the talent of his teammates than his decline. With multiple weapons on offense, a stellar offensive line and a brash defense, Roethlisberger has not found the game’s outcome depending directly on himself anymore. But do not be mistaken, as the Colts’ game showed, Roethlisberger still has the perseverance to produce when called upon.
Roethlisberger’s game winning drive also comes in a very familiar situation for the Steelers quarterback, as Roethlisberger has been a resilient leader through the latter half of the season. Since 2014, Roethlisberger has led eight game winning drives with seven of them coming in the season’s final half. For Roethlisberger, this is validation of his veteran leadership and experience in the face of adversity.
With the Colts victory being the first game of the Steelers’ second half of their schedule, perhaps it is a positive sign that Roethlisberger will once again be rounding into form down the stretch. Even as the Steelers’ chances at victory looked bleak as the team trailed 17-3 and the offense limped through majority of the game, Roethlisberger had enough left to pull out a 17-point comeback to earn the victory.
Roethlisberger overcame adversity time and time again during the fourth quarter on Sunday. On the final drive alone, Roethlisberger was four for four for 66 yards, converting two third downs and even battling back from a long second and 17. There was also the third and goal in which Roethlisberger looked like his old self, finding Vance McDonald in the back of the end zone for six. The maestro, Roethlisberger was not done yet as a clock mismanagement forced the Steelers to attempt a tying two-point conversion from the 7-yard line instead of the two-yard line. No problem for Roethlisberger, as the quarterback hooked up with receiver Martavis Bryant in the end zone to tie the game at 17.
While the talk of Roethlisberger’s declining skills may continue to be the chatter of the fanbase and media, the quarterback is proving that his mental abilities during the season’s toughest stretch have not faded. With tough December football looming, the Steelers should rest easy knowing they have one of the NFL’s best commander’s in chief at hand.