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Ben Roethlisberger had a __________ performance.
Quite simply, you can fill in the blank with any of the words good, adequate or bad to describe No. 7's performance. Call it my version of NFL "Mad Libs."
In the fourth quarter, Al Michaels described an effort by Big Ben, in which the quarterback pulled off a patented productive play in spite of bad circumstances, as turning "junk into a jewel."
Throughout the night, Ben surely seemed illusory to defenders, as he manged to avoid pressure and make plays on downs and distances that few other quarterbacks in the game could. Minus his rare skill set in the middle of the contest, it's possible that the Steelers wouldn't have ever held the lead in the second half or remained in striking distance late.
Live by the sword...
Die by it...
Ben's penchant for extending plays comes with a criticism for not making quick decisions, and many feel that stems from a need to improve at reading defenses presnap.
Likewise, with Roethlisberger's common belief (and evidenced portfolio) that a great play can come from any beginnings, the confident gunslinger can often be the victim of his own style.
Early in the game, a quick slant to the end zone was brilliantly defended by Champ Bailey. Roethlisberger quickly slung the pass with nearly no consideration for the coverage. The deflection caused the football to pop into the air, bobbling mercilessly as though in slow motion before narrowly hitting the ground to avoid a would-be 95-plus-yard interception touchdown.
Before hitting Heath Miller on a key 3rd-and-18 en route to taking a second half lead, a third-quarter drive for Big Ben saw three questionable decisions on passes, two of which could have easily been intercepted.
Likewise, Ben's low trajectory on a pass to the deep corner of the endzone, similar to his costly error in Super Bowl XL, cost points. And, adding to the pile of unnecessary mistakes for the veteran quarterback, he missed Mike Wallace streaking uncovered down the middle of the field, something that should have been noticed milliseconds after the snap, as the Broncos secondary had already showcased its exposure.
Yet, these could easily be rationalized as the common give and take that a fan must accept regarding the championship signal-caller's style. The last mistake was not as forgivable, sullying a decent performance.
Peyton Manning knew something of being made victim by Tracy Porter, but his Super Bowl XLIV interception was the result of a brilliant read and play by the corner.
Ben's game-sealing interception to Porter was marked by overconfidence, the type of throw that much lesser quarterbacks would know not to attempt. For those who question his presnap judgments, Roethlisberger's own admission after the game was certainly frustrating, according to The Washington Post.
I should have called timeout. The play clock was running down. I hate to burn timeouts, but I should have. We were covered all over the place. There’s no one to blame but myself.
He knew the coverage at least, but still forced the ball despite having a clear view of the defender and receiver.
When playing against the most legendary of his peers, disagreeing fans will just have to forgive me if I expected more aplomb from Big Ben in crunch time.