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Roethlisberger recovers some early mistakes to bring team back.



Published: Sun, January 16, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Roethlisberger recovers some early mistakes to bring team back.

PITTSBURGH -- Part of Ben Roethlisberger's success as a rookie quarterback in the National Football League has been a strong running game that hasn't forced him to throw the ball all over the field.

On Saturday, in the 20-17 AFC Divisional playoff overtime victory over the New York Jets, Roethlisberger again relied on that ground attack to bail him out of one of his worst performances of the season.

"I was terrible," said Roethlisberger. "I did everything I could to lose the game"

Yet, when it counted most, Big Ben showed the kind of poise that has carried throughout his personal 14-game winning streak.

The numbers

Big Ben completed 17 of 30 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown. He threw two interceptions and was sacked once, and his passer rating was just 57.8.

Roethlisberger's lowest lows came in the second half, when he threw two interceptions.

In the third quarter, his terribly-underthrown pass was intercepted by Reggie Tongue and returned 86 yards for a touchdown and a 17-10 lead for the Jets.

The second one could have spelled doom for the Steelers; he overthrew Burress with less than two minutes remaining. David Barrett intercepted and returned the ball to the Pittsburgh 37 to give the Jets an opportunity to win the game in regulation.

Key drive

Two possessions after the Tongue interception, Roethlisberger orchestrated a 12-play, 66-yard drive that resulted in the game-tying touchdown, a 4-yard shovel pass he threw to Hines Ward with six minutes remaining in regulation.

One of the big plays in the drive came at the outset, but it was Roethlisberger using his head and his feet, rather than his strong right arm.

On the first play, from the Steelers' 34, Roethlisberger dropped back to pass. But, feeling pressure, he pump-faked, then tucked the ball and took off for a wide-open field.

Twenty yards later, Roethlisberger jumped out of bounds, and 11 plays after that, Pittsburgh scored.

Conservative but effective

Then, in overtime, Roethlisberger took possession at the Steelers' 13. He passed infrequently, but tried low-risk throws that yielded big results.

He completed passes of 9, 17 and 6 yards to Hines Ward. The 17-yarder came on third-and-six, giving the Steelers a first down at midfield.

The remainder of the plays were runs by Duce Staley, a key third down carry for 8 yards by Vernon Haynes and one attempt by Jerome Bettis, which was significant because it gave The Bus 100 yards for the game.

The push moved the ball to the Jets' 15, from where Josh Reed kicked the game-winning field goal with just under four minutes remaining in the overtime.




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