Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers thrive again in two-minute offense

By Alan Robinson, The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 26, 2016 at 12:48 AM
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PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger loves the two-minute offense more than any other, and he's lobbied every Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator he's worked with to run it more often.

In this precarious situation, in this big of a game, in this win-or-possibly-go-home moment, Roethlisberger didn't need to persuade offensive coordinator Todd Haley that's what the Steelers had to do in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.

Limited to an opening drive touchdown through three quarters, and down 20-10 in what might have been the AFC North championship game, Roethlisberger frantically drove the Steelers to three touchdowns in 12 minutes and a division-clinching 31-27 victory Sunday.

It was Big Ben at his best in the offense he runs best.

"We kind of went into no-huddle and I just started throwing it," Roethlisberger said.

Le'Veon Bell ended the first two drives with a 7-yard touchdown run and a 7-yard touchdown catch. Then, after the Ravens' Kyle Juszczyk powered into the end zone from 10 yards out with 90 seconds left to put Baltimore back in the lead, Roethlisberger put together the biggest drive of all, a 75-yarder ended by Antonio Brown's 4-yard, catch-and-stretch touchdown with nine seconds to go.

The Ravens, distraught at losing to the rival they had beaten four straight times, couldn't help but admire the playmaking of Roethlisberger, who had 177 passing yards in the fourth quarter alone -- 73 yards on six catches by Brown.

"They've got a great quarterback," said linebacker C.J. Mosley, who intercepted a Roethlisberger pass earlier in the game.

"Big Ben did what he does. A big time quarterback made some big time plays," cornerback Lardarius Webb said.

"The difference in the fourth quarter was him moving out of the pocket and making plays," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "They made great throws, catches, he got of the pocket and made some plays. It was just playmaking."

The most athletic play of all was Brown stretching the ball across the goal line on his decisive touchdown catch. Roethlisberger gambled by throwing the ball to the middle of the field, rather than the sideline, so the clock might have wound down if Brown hadn't completed his stretch.

"I have to get the ball in. I have to get the ball in," Brown said. "I know I'm going to take some contact, and I knew after that I was going to be able to get the ball in.

Before the play, Roethlisberger knew that, "You can throw it away if you have to and get the kick off (field goal). But when AB came in there (in the middle of the field), I thought I could get it to him. He caught it at the 1 and he reached over and it was just an awesome play by him."

Bell, Brown and Roethlisberger had all been relatively quiet until the fourth quarter, but the Ravens never found an answer for any of the three when the game was decided.

Brown also went over the 100-catch mark for the fourth consecutive season, something only Marvin Harrison of the Colts did before him in NFL history.

"Obviously, he's a tough guy to hold down the whole game and we're going to keep giving him the ball," Bell said of Brown. "Pretty soon he's going to break one and that's what he did. This guy's the best receiver in the world and that's what he does what he does. He's the best out here."

And that might not be a stretch for Bell to say that.

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