Ben Roethlisberger's Return Makes Steelers a Super Bowl Contender

David KlinglerCorrespondent IOctober 7, 2010

DENVER - AUGUST 29:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 hands the ball off to running back Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at INVESCO Field at Mile High on August 29, 2010 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Through the first four weeks of the season, the Steelers were far from perfect. That being said, they still managed a 3-1 record and a first place tie with Baltimore atop the AFC North.

They did it the way their Steelers' ancestors did so many years ago. With a dominant defense, and some good old fashion power running.

Rashard Mendenhall, second in the league in rushing, leads a resurgent Steelers' ground attack against defenses that have been stacked to stop him.

The return of Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith has boosted the aging defense back to the elite level of the 2008 squad that dominated the league on the way to the Steelers' sixth Super Bowl title. They lead the league in fewest points allowed and have been manufacturing turnovers at an astonishing rate.

Add to this equation one Ben Roethlisberger and you have the making of something special.

This team has something to prove. The defense is on a mission to show their critics they are not yet ready to be put out to pasture. So far, so good. Judging by the eye test, they look to be better than the 2008 version that led the league in numerous defensive categories.

As impossible as that is to imagine.

Roethlisberger is on a mission as well. He has to win back the Steelers' fans, and his teammates' trust. In the past, he has played at an extremely high level when he has something to prove.

He silenced his critics with his outstanding performance in Super Bowl 43 and washed away the bad taste of his poor showing against the Seahawks three years earlier.

This team just has that feel about them. That so-called "it" that championship caliber teams have that can't be defined.

Maybe it's that roster full of players with Super Bowl experience. If they get into the playoffs, they certainly know the way having traveled it so often.

Never underestimate playoff experience, the Steelers have it, they can handle the pressure.

Maybe it's the return of their two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback. Whatever it is, this team looks like a legitimate Super Bowl contender right now.

We'll see if they are still around come playoff time.

I wouldn't bet against them.