One of the things that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is best known for on the field is the fact that he does his best to have faith in all of his targets and trust that they will be able to make a play when he puts the ball in the air in their direction.
Part of this faith that he exhibits is the willingness to immediately go back to a player after they make a big mistake, whether that’s a dropped pass, a fumble, or a play that results in an interception because of a route being run incorrectly or imprecisely.
Perhaps Antonio Brown should have stuck around longer instead of leaving near halftime, because Roethlisberger and the offense gave two of their fringe contributors big opportunities to redeem themselves in their regular season finale.
The first of those two big redemption plays came after the two-minute warning at the end of the first half. Eli Rogers was held to a nine-yard gain on third and 10, setting up a critical fourth-and-one play from the Cincinnati Bengals’ 46-yard line as the Steelers trailed 10-0.
The Steelers got into a heavy set and Roethlisberger rolled out of the pocket, waiting for tight end Xavier Grimble to flash open on a crosser, producing a 16-yard gain. This was comparable to the play against the Denver Broncos, on which he made contact with the defender at the goal line and fumbled the football out of the end zone.
Rookie James Washington also had a big miss on a deep pass in that Broncos game, and Roethlisberger drew criticism for his own criticism of the wide receiver while speaking about the play on his radio show after that game.
The Steelers chose to run that same exact play in the second half. On his radio show this past week, the quarterback said that offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner asked him if he wanted Washington or JuJu Smith-Schuster in that spot. He said he wanted Washington.
The rookie delivered, as did Grimble. In the season finale, with the playoffs on the line, the Steelers gave these two players the opportunity to redeem their lowest moments of their season—and of their professional career—which is something I don’t think should be overlooked.
Those are important confidence-boosting and momentum-building moments, especially on the eve of the offseason. Washington is going to need to play a much bigger role in year two—especially if Brown ends up getting traded—and Grimble could be in for a bigger role as well if Jesse James leaves in free agency.