Monday, November 5, 2007

Big Ben Rings Up Ravens

When Ben Roethlisberger and the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers began the 2006 season losing six of their first eight games, many doubted that the Steelers would rise back to prominence. Roethlisberger mirrored his team's bad start last year, tossing 14 interceptions and only seven touchdown passes in the first seven seven games he started. At midseason though, Roethlisberger and his Steeler teammates only had one thing left to play for: pride. The Steelers won six of their final eight games, and Roethlisberger had a huge role in those wins, tossing 10 touchdown passes (and also rushing for two), while only being intercepted five times. Those two losses though were both blowouts to the Baltimore Ravens. In those two games, the Ravens outscored the Steelers 58-7, and Big Ben threw only one touchdown pass to go along with four interceptions. On Monday night, Big Ben and the Steelers would have a chance to exact revenge on the Ravens. And that's exactly what they did!

From the moment the game started, you could sense there was something special in the air. Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Joe Greene and many others from the incredible Steeler teams of the late 1970's were on hand to celebrate the Steelers 75th season... and celebrate they did pretty much ALL NIGHT LONG!

The Steelers punted on their first possession, but quickly found their mojo on defense and special teams, forcing the Ravens to turn the ball over three times in their first four possessions. James Harrison sacked Raven QB Steve McNair on their opening possession, forcing and recovering a fumble for the Steelers at the Baltimore 20 yard line. Three plays later Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller with a 17 yard pass to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead. The Ravens went three-and-out with their next possession as would the Steelers - or so we thought. Harrison would force his second fumble of the game on special teams, using his helmet to knock the ball out of the Ravens' Ed Reed on the ensuing punt return. Lionel Timmons recovered the ball for the Steelers at Baltimore's 33 yard-line. Two Raven penalties gave the Steelers a first down at the 20 yard-line. Two player, Big Ben would strike again, hitting Santonio Holmes in the end zone for a 15 yard score. As the first quarter wound down, the Ravens gave the ball away again. This time it was Willis McGahee getting into the act, fumbling the ball away on a third down play. The Steelers recovered the ball at the Ravens 36-yard line and took their 14-0 lead into the second quarter.

Things would quickly go from bad to worse for the Ravens. On the second play of the second quarter, Big Ben hit Nate Robinson on a 30 yard strike to make it a 21-0 Steelers lead. Later in the quarter, Roethlisberger threw his fourth TD pass of the game - a 35 yarder to Holmes to make it a 28-0 lead with 5:40 to play in the first half. The ubiquitious Harrison would strike again on defense, intercepting McNair on the Ravens ensuing possession. Five plays later, Big Ben tolled again, hitting Robinson with a seven yard pass to give the Steelers a 35-0 lead. Five touchdown passes in the first half. With that, Roethlisberger tied the Steelers record for TD passes in a game in one half!

Needless to say, the game was over at that point. The Steelers went on to win 38-7, to go to a 6-2 record. On the season, Big Ben has tossed 20 touchdown passes against only six interceptions. Those are numbers that fellow AFC quarterbacks named Manning and Brady are pretty familiar with. No, Big Ben's not on their level yet, but he's certainly is playing smart football and making the decisions necessary to make sure the Steelers remain one of the contenders for the AFC Championship this year.


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