Ben Roethlisberger: Top 5 Moments of Big Ben's Career
Since his rookie season in 2004, Ben Roethlisberger has been a huge part of the success of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Along the way, he's given Steelers fans some great memories with great, clutch plays and seasons of unrivaled excellence.
It's hard to narrow down the quarterback's still-young career to a handful of plays, but there are some moments and seasons that just stand out above the others.
Here's a look at five moments that have helped to define the legacy of Ben Roethlisberger.
2004 Rookie Season: 13-0 as a Starter
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A lot of people forget that Roethlisberger wasn't supposed to play as a rookie. It was expected that he'd sit as the backup and learn from Charlie Batch and starter Tommy Maddox. Few people expected him to be a starter until 2005 or 2006.
Nobody expected what happened next.
In a tense Week 2 contest against rival Baltimore, Tommy Maddox took a crushing hit while attempting to pass and was down for the count. Roethlisberger entered the game to mop up. The Steelers lost, but Roethlisberger rallied them to a closer finish than the blowout he entered.
From there, Roethlisberger took charge and led the team to 13 straight victories (a league record that shattered the previous record of six) as part of a 15-1 season, the first ever by an AFC team. The Steelers, with the rookie quarterback at the helm, reached the AFC Championship Game before being shut down by New England.
Super Bowl XL: Roethlisberger to Ward to Save a Drive
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Some plays are big because they result in a touchdown. This is not one of those plays. It's big and memorable because, in one play, it shows everything you ever needed to know about Ben Roethlisberger's ability.
Facing a 3rd-and-28 at the Seattle 40 in the closing minutes of the first half of Super Bowl XL and with an offense that was suddenly sputtering, Ben Roethlisberger took the ball, scrambled around and threw an unorthodox pass across his body (and the field) to Hines Ward for a 37-yard gain and a 1st-and-goal.
The Steelers scored three plays later on a Roethlisberger run, but this play stands out more. In one play, Roethlisberger took the Steelers offense from stopped to dangerous, he turned a broken play into a huge gain and he displayed the pure athleticism and almost-unmatched arm strength and accuracy that have been his hallmarks.
Super Bowl XLIII: Roethlisberger Hits Holmes to Win It
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Then again, there are some plays that are big because they result in scores. This is one of those plays.
After dominating the Arizona Cardinals for most of Super Bowl XLIII, the Steelers found themselves trailing with scant minutes remaining. Ben Roethlisberger looked unperturbed as he took the field with his offense. He'd already gained a bit of a legend for his comebacks, but this one was bigger.
He was nearly flawless on the drive, leading the Steelers inside the Arizona 10 and, after failing to hit Santonio Holmes on a fade pass to the left, ran roughly the same play to the right, scrambling briefly before hitting the receiver with just enough room to tap down his toes in bounds.
The play was the game-winning moment of Super Bowl XLIII, the record-setting sixth championship for the Steelers. It's also one of the top three catches in Super Bowl history.
Big First Half Against Baltimore: 2007
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Some players just seem to have a team's number. Ben Roethlisberger has always seemed to have Baltimore's number. He always knows how to step up his game and get the team just enough offense to win against their biggest rival.
In 2007, a series that has been marked before and since by close, tense games became a farce. During that game's first half, Ben Roethlisberger not only beat the Ravens, he dismantled their vaunted defense with five scoring passes, setting a record not likely to be matched soon.
It's a moment representative of his work against Baltimore, which is always nearly flawless and also of his passing abilities, which too often have gone unrecognized by a league fascinated by Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
2010 Season: Stunning Statistics in 12 Games
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2010 didn't start out as Ben Roethlisberger's best year. He faced an offseason full of legal troubles and then was suspended four games by commissioner Roger Goodell. While the merits of that suspension can be debated endlessly, what cannot is that Roethlisberger rebounded.
It may have been his best season so far. He came back after a four-game absence and threw for 3,200 yards, 17 touchdowns (against only five interceptions) and led the Steelers to a surprising appearance in Super Bowl XLV.
It's hard to imagine a better season. Roethlisberger may have put up hard-to-match Pro Bowl numbers over a full season. What was most impressive and memorable was that, after so much turmoil, Roethlisberger was able to rise to the occasion and use 2010 as a season to remind everyone of his great abilities on the field.