There are so many famous good and bad people… Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. 70’s/80’s Chevy Chase and current Chevy Chase. Chicago Bulls’ Michael Jordan and Washington Wizards’ Michael Jordan. But then there’s Good Ben and Bad Ben. Thankfully we get the ‘Good Ben’ more often then the bad but today in Jacksonville we got both over the span of three hours. The result? A 16-0 deficit turned into 20-16 win as Ben Roethlisberger dove into the end zone with three seconds left.
The score not only saved Roethlisberger from what would have been a long, miserable flight home but it saved James Conner too. In the same week where his status as the man for the Steelers was solidified, Conner just moments before dropped what would have been the game-winning touchdown.
Roethlisberger may have saved Conner but it was his own rear end that was in the hot seat. He threw three really bad interceptions and at one point early in the third quarter his passer rating was in the single digits. How could ‘Bad Ben’ appear so soon after ‘Good Ben’ and his perfect night just ten days ago? It was a question asked by the entire Steeler Nation.
But his turnaround had help from a defense that bent and bent and bent some more but just wouldn’t break. They were routinely run over by Leonard Fournette or Carlos Hyde or T.J. Yeldon but only one time did the Jaguars hit pay dirt in the end zone. Guys like Javon Hargrave, Mike Hilton and T.J.Watt helped fortify the defense to the point where Blake Bortles was just not going to beat them and it turned out, neither was the running game. Time and time again they gave Roethlisberger and the offense opportunities and one finally paid off.
Big Ben would end up going 27 for 47 for 314 yards. He added two TD passes and his TD run to his three picks. Antonio Brown, largely held in check by Jalen Ramsey who picked Ben twice, ended up with 5 receptions for 117 yards and a score. JuJu Smith-Schuster also broke the century mark with eight grabs for 104 yards.
There’s no question that the Steelers’ defense missed Stephon Tuitt but I honestly can’t say if he would have made the difference early on. Jacksonville came out and did to Pittsburgh what the Steelers have so often done to their opponents; smack them in the mouth and keep smacking until they give in. But the defense didn’t give in and if Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t already, he should have walked over to that unit and told them “thanks.” Without them, there would have been no redemption opportunity for number seven.
But give credit to Roethlisberger too. Some quarterbacks would shy away from throwing after the first half he had but not him and we all should have realized it. He was going to keep slinging it until he got it right and eventually he did. Seeing ‘Bad Ben and ‘Good Ben’ on the same day isn’t something I’d like to watch every week but I am glad we got the latter to finish the game today.
Photo courtesy: SI.com