Roethlisberger's performance is legendary
Share with others:
The number is staggering and almost defies belief.
In the 90-year history of the NFL, only nine quarterbacks have passed for more yards in one game than the 503 that the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger hung on the Green Bay Packers yesterday. Two were journeymen -- Vince Ferragamo and Elvis Grbac. Three were or are very good players -- Boomer Esiason, Phil Simms and Drew Brees. Four were absolute legends -- Norm Van Brocklin, Warren Moon, Dan Marino and Y.A. Tittle.
I'm thinking Roethlisberger will be among the legends before he is done.
We're so lucky here. Each week, we get to watch one of the game's all-time greats. Each week, we know the Steelers are never out of a game because of him.
Yesterday, when the Steelers needed to win to have any chance of saving what has been a disappointing season, we saw Roethlisberger at his very best.
Gosh, was that fun.
"We needed all 503," Roethlisberger said after the Steelers' 37-36 win, which ended their almost surreal five-game losing streak and left them with -- quoting coach Mike Tomlin now -- "a little pulse" as far as playoffs go.
At holiday parties all over Steelers Nation this week, people will be talking about Roethlisberger's 19-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Mike Wallace as time expired. It was, quite simply, spectacular.
"A Super Bowl MVP-caliber catch," Roethlisberger said of Wallace's effort.
It sure did bring back sweet memories of Roethlisberger's exquisite touchdown throw to wide receiver Santonio Holmes to beat the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.
Wallace was Roethlisberger's fifth-and-final option on the play. Looking from right to left, he didn't see any way of getting the ball to Holmes, running back Rashard Mendenhall, tight end Heath Miller or wide receiver Hines Ward. That left Wallace in single coverage against cornerback Josh Bell. He made the catch as he dragged his two feet just inbounds.
"I'm the least one they're worried about out there," Wallace said, explaining why he wasn't surprised the pass came to him.
"Ben threw a perfect ball. I can't tell you that enough. You can't put the ball in a better spot than he put that one."
As terrific as that one throw was for his third touchdown pass of the game, Roethlisberger's body of work against the NFL's No. 2-ranked defense was even more impressive. He heaved the pig 46 times without throwing an interception. Nine of his 29 completions went for 23 or more yards, including a 60-yarder to Wallace on the Steelers' first play for a touchdown and a 54-yarder to Ward in the fourth.
"They have a great defense," Roethlisberger said, "but I felt like we were doing whatever we wanted on offense."
Roethlisberger's best throw -- other than the final one, of course -- might have been his 32-yard bullet to Holmes on a fourth-and-7 play on the winning drive. If not that one, then it was his 20-yard pass to Miller on third-and-15 a little later in that drive as the Steelers went 86 yards in 11 plays in the final 2:01 to win it.
That marvelous drive also brought back wonderful memories from Super Bowl XLIII. What did the Steelers go that night to win it all? 78 yards in eight plays in 2:02, right?
"We don't quit," Roethlisberger said. "That's kind of a Pittsburgh mentality. We don't quit no matter what."
Count Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy among the many who were impressed.
"I don't think we thought it would go that way as far as the aggressiveness and the passing game against our defense," he said. "I thought [Steelers offensive coordinator] Bruce Arians did a hell of a job today. I thought they called an extremely aggressive game."
Said Arians, who has taken more criticism than anyone for the 7-7 Steelers' dismal playoff possibilities: "I knew 7 was hot. 7 was unbelievable."
One other thing that Roethlisberger did on this amazing night really stood out: He yelled at Wallace right before the winning touchdown. He demanded better than what the young wideout had been giving him, and he wasn't talking about Wallace's drop in the third quarter after taking a lick from safety Atari Bigby.
"I chewed him out a little because I felt that he kind of quit on the play," Roethlisberger said. "I thought that he could have peeled out and made a play for a touchdown the play before. I know that he's kind of hurt and banged up and tired. But I just said, 'Listen, it's time that you have to make a play. It's time to grow up and do this.' "
So Wallace did.
It only seemed right, didn't it?
On one of the greatest nights any quarterback ever had, Roethlisberger deserved to win. A loss would have been a crying shame.
First Published December 21, 2009 12:00 am