On the Steelers: Roethlisberger king of comebacks
Preparation for Sunday's game in Chicago continued on the South Side yesterday for Ben Roethlisberger, left, and Santonio Holmes.
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Count it any way you want, but Ben Roethlisberger added another log to his fast-growing pile of late comeback victories for the Steelers.
And there are many ways to count it. In fact, there is no official statistic for comeback victories in the NFL. Scott Kacsmar would like to change that.
Kacsmar is a researcher on data projects for pro-football-reference.com, and he just happens to hail from Homestead, Steel Valley High School and Pitt. He is involved in research on the NFL's comebacks/game-winning drives that the Denver Broncos made famous by keeping track of John Elway's late victories. The research will go back to 1950.
Elway was the champ, or so it seemed, but Kacsmar's research, as documented on the noted football Web site, shows that another Pitt student, Dan Marino, really is the champ, and that Roethlisberger is off to a great start that could top them all.
- Game: Steelers (1-0) at Chicago Bears (0-1), 4:15 p.m. Sunday.
- Where: Soldier Field, Chicago.
- TV: KDKA.
Kacsmar has found that different teams count either comebacks or winning drives differently, and he would like for the NFL to come to a single term in doing so. He seems to have made headway because Elias, the official statistician of the NFL, sent out a memo to teams this year that they all should be lumped under "game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime."
Kacsmar prefers "comeback victories" under those circumstances, but he is willing to settle for "game-winning" -- if everyone agrees on counting them the same way.
Either way, he said, Marino is the champ, no matter how you count them.
"Semantics are exactly why the Broncos have fooled people into thinking John Elway has 47 comebacks, when he only has 34," Kacsmar said. "They count all these games where it was tied and the team never trailed in the fourth.
"Meanwhile, the Dolphins didn't do that when Marino played, so they make you think he only had 37. But, if you apply the same standard to Marino's career as was used with Elway, you'll see he leads Elway, 51-49, in overall fourth-quarter wins (36 to 34 in comebacks). No matter what you want to label them as, Marino has the most in history, though Ben's putting himself on a nice pace to claim that record."
In five seasons and one game, Roethlisberger has 18 "game-winning drives" plus two more in the playoffs. If only comebacks count, he has 16 total (four games were tied in the fourth quarter when he brought them back, technically not "comeback" victories).
The latest, of course, occurred last Thursday night in Heinz Field. In fact, that is two in a row for Roethlisberger, counting the Super Bowl. As Kacsmar noted, he is fast becoming known as The Comeback Kid. The Super Bowl-winning drive helped reinforce that image, and Roethlisberger admitted those kinds of drives help to define quarterbacks.
"I think so," Roethlisberger said yesterday. "What do you talk about when you think about Elway? The Drive and some stuff he has done. It's a neat thing for quarterbacks."
Roethlisberger prefers other ways to victory, but, if they don't happen, he'll gladly try to do it late.
"During [a late drive], I don't really think about it. I just think about, 'You got to do it now.' Afterwards, it's more fun to think about. I prefer not to have to do it at all, just to be up and sit on the sidelines. It's fun when it's over, you can look back ...
"It's like wanting the ball for the last-second shot, wanting the ball at the end of the game. You know you can do it and, when you can't, it's not like you get down on yourself, you just have to stop them."
The odds are in Roethlisberger's favor in those kinds of games. He is 16-5 in regular-season games decided by six points or fewer, 52-20 in all starts.
Practice held mixed results for the Steelers yesterday. Lawrence Timmons felt good about returning to practice for the first time in more than three weeks after a high ankle sprain Aug. 22. Then, he had to cut back a little because he said he "tweaked" the left ankle injury.
Wide receiver Limas Sweed left practice with a mid-foot sprain.
So, it appears that Keyaron Fox, who led the Steelers with nine official tackles in the opener, will make his second start at inside linebacker Sunday in Chicago. Rookie Mike Wallace again will handle the job as the No. 3 receiver as he did most of the time in the opener.
"I tweaked it a little bit, but nothing serious," Timmons said. "I'll be all right; it's something I'll have to play through. The good thing is, it's early in the season and time is on my side."