These are not the Steelers you’re used to. But it’s still the same Ben Roethlisberger, which means they’re always going to have a chance.
With a system, he’s still coming to grips with, a supposed lack of running game and lack of protection, and too many balls on the ground, the Steelers quarterback was undeterred,leading his team to a 24-17 win over the Bengals.
Roethlisberger finished 27-of-37 for 278 yards and a touchdown.
Those numbers would have been a lot better if not for some problems by his teammates (keep reading), but they were still enough.
You can tell Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley are still learning to dance together. Toes are still being stepped on, between getting the steps just right often enough.
He can still move the pocket to buy time, and he can still gun the ball (as he proved on his touchdown to Heath Miller just before halftime).
But all told, his is a game that is generally greater than the sum of its parts. And for a team in a bit of a transition, that’s something they need to count on.
Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:
1. If the Steelers have been good at anything over the years, it’s been replacing guys well, and at just the right times.
But there are certain guys they have a hard time doing without.
Without safety Troy Polamalu, their defense lacks any kind of dynamic element. Outside linebacker James Harrison is back in body, but doesn’t appear to be making much of an impact. And their line borders on solid, but can’t change a game.
Where they’ve excelled at filling gaps is on the offensive line. While their blocking has been suspect in the past, they were playing without a pair of starters (inactive center Maurkice Pouncey and right tackle Marcus Gilbert) and kept it going. They protected well, and paved the way for more than enough running, even without their top two running backs (inactives Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman). Read more…