Pittsburgh Steelers: They're Still Your Super Bowl Favorites

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst ISeptember 12, 2009

PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 11:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers passes the ball in the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans on September 11, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Titans 13-10 in overtime.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Despite coping with adversity over the years, Ben Roethlisberger replicated familiar scenes on Thursday night, starting off the 2009 season. He's duplicating heroics, quarterbacking the Pittsburgh Steelers to late victories.

He's a reckless daredevil who has withstood tragic scares. But most of all, Big Ben's quarterbacking heroics has been highlighted by leading the men in French Mustard yellow to two Super Bowl titles this decade, including their historical sixth title.

On a gratifying evening, fans paid tribute to a glorious Super Bowl title, sustained over the shocking Arizona Cardinals. It's a night that will remain indelible, and highlight reels that will be seen repeatedly.

As minutes dwindle, Roethlisberger intensifies and creates life offensively, with the ability to dominate under pressure by buckling down, utilizing a convenient play, and hurling powerful throws.

A hard driven mindset and assurance enables Big Ben to come away victorious in mere minutes.

To this day, none of us have forgotten the most sensational Super Bowl finish in history, at least in my lifetime. None of us have forgotten an eight-play, 69-yard drive, connecting with a fiery Santonio Holmes who managed to keep his toes inside the end zone and completed one of the most dramatic catches in NFL history.

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Once again, the same pattern gives us reasonable belief that the Steelers are our Super Bowl favorites. After one game, the Steelers still consist of a tenacious and poised defensive unit, highlighted by the aggressiveness and incredible speed of Troy Polamalu.

By applying hard hits early on, it set a tone, though they were a bit rusty to start a quest to repeat.

Being powerhouses defensively, there are some concerns without their forceful safety, after he sprained a ligament in the second quarter; this sidelines the warrior for approximately three to six weeks.

When he made an attempt to recover the ball following a blocked field goal, Alge Crumpler awkwardly tweaked his left knee as Polamalu suffered the devastating injury. The wildest fans arguably in the league weren't swinging the Terrible Towels, but were holding their selective breaths, worried about the Pro Bowler.

Moments later, he walked to the locker room and never returned. Keep in mind, a solid culture of which the Steelers are comprised of, signifies they are still favorites. Anything is bound to happen whenever there's a tough-minded quarterback and wide receiver tandem.

No worries.

Minus Polamalu's vigor, the Steelers managed to grind out a victory in their gratifying season-opener in front of passionate fans. And they capitalized, benefiting from the usual pattern, which normally is successful at the finish to engage and attract our football craziness.

Big Ben is a vital part if the Steelers are on a quest to repeat. He's a savvy leader who stores weight on his shoulders. He's a confident quarterback who performs more effectively under pressure, and understands what it takes to reach a crescendo.

He has all the proper ingredients containing of prowess and expertness; from experiencing glorious moments of hoisting the franchise's six banner, popping corks off of champagne bottles, and sharing memorable times with fans when passing down the streets of Pittsburgh in celebration. 

By now, you're getting used to Roethlisberger's bravery and heroics. And you're accustomed to waiting for epic finishes, a pattern the Steelers are committed to while still somehow pulling off late comebacks.

It was done again, leaving off where they finished and left us guessing as minutes dwindled. Late in the fourth quarter, the masses were expecting a game-winning pass to occur.

No.

Instead of recording their first victory of the season at the end of regulation, it took extra minutes for the Steelers to prevail. Highly targeted receiver and veteran Hines Ward caught a long-throwing pass from Roethlisberger, but botched a catch-and-run play, which wrapped up a victory.

He never secured the ball, which allowed Tennessee's safety Michael Griffin to poke the ball out of his arms. He walked off furious and disgusted, and didn't wear his usual smile. Witnessing Ward angry and beating himself up over a fumble was outlandish.

But on a night the Steelers didn't display their best game, they were fortunate to come away victorious in a friendly locale. From their ineffective rush attack, and Roethlisberger's careless lapses, the Titans were easily favored in the late quarters.

But it's difficult underestimating the Steelers capabilities, particularly when the Titans stumbled, too. 

Arguably the best kicker in the league, Rob Bironas failed to convert on two critical field goal attempts. And just think if he would've converted they could've possibly pulled off the upset, spoiling the Steelers' glorious opener.

Based on Roethlisberger's pump-fakes and nifty footwork inside the pocket, it will greatly limit the sack ratio, after he took a league-leading 139 last season. That can also limit significant blows to the head, and make life easier offensively.

But amazingly, the Steelers hung on to escape with a nail-biting 13-10 victory in overtime, as fans were tense until things went final.

Thanks to Roethlisberger's staggering stats of 33-of-43 for 363 yards and a touchdown, they didn't have to worry much about their poor running game. Instead it took an unflappable Ben, leading a drive to set up a game-winning field goal. 

So on this night, most of the heroics came from veteran Jeff Reed. And you can credit Roethlisberger for well-driven plays. Although they were shaky, the Steelers are the team to beat and should be Super Bowl favorites.

That's obvious.

After all, they're your defending champs. Courtesy of classical heroics and enduring to the finish.