Imagine the Indianapolis Colts being without Peyton Manning for 4 games. Or Drew Brees not being able to lead the New Orleans Saints. Thats what the Pittsburgh Steelers were faced with in the wake of Ben Roethlisberger’s 4 game suspension for personal misconduct. The Steelers backups, Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon were able to guide them to an impressive 3-1 record without their signal caller, but much like the Baltimore Ravens of 2000, it was the Defense who was the real reason this team had a winning record.
Ben made his much hyped return on Sunday defeating the rival Browns 28-10. Ben posted an impressive stat line of 16-27 with 3 Touchdowns, 1 Interception and 0 Sacks. Not bad for a guy who played his last game January 3rd. Remember the expression ‘you never know what you have until you lose it’? Well, that’s how the Steeler Nation felt without their leader. Ben has made his case as a Top tier Quarterback and even has been mentioned with the likes of Manning, Brees and Tom Brady. Rightfully so considering his numbers going into his 7th season as Quarterback: .62% Completion Percentage, 19,559 yards, 130 TD’s, and most importantly to fans, 2 Vince Lombardi Trophies.
How much better does Ben make this football team? Let’s look at a few examples:
Mike Wallace- Pittsburgh’s speed receiver had 2 touchdowns in the absense of Ben, but was nonexistent besides the game against Tampa. With a strong armed Ben back in the lineup, Wallace will be able have a quarterback who has the arm to deliver him the ball on the mark and be a huge factor in the passing game by stretching the field.
Hines Ward- Love the smile or hate it, there is no denying that Ward will continue to rack up the numbers he has produced throughout his record setting career in Pittsburgh. Ward creates a safety valve for Ben underneath and seems to be there anytime the Quarterback from Miami of Ohio needs him to be.
Heath Miller – Miller set a Pittsburgh record for Tight Ends last season with 76 grabs and played a big part in the team record 4,328 yards thrown by Ben. Miller is an unsung hero of this team who has developed a connection with Number 7.
Rashard Mendenhall – Mendenhall is currently 5th in the league with 495 rushing yards and his numbers will only increase with the return of Ben. Defenses will no longer be able to stack 8 in the box against Mendenhall and will be forced to respect the passing game.
The Defense – The unit led by James Harrison, Lamarr Woodley, Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith carried the Steelers through the first 4 games. With the return of Ben and his ability to run the offense and keep the opposing teams offense off the field, it will only help keep this unit fresh and fierce down the stretch.
Whether you like him or hate him, there is no doubting the talent of ‘Big Ben’. The team was good without him and his return makes them one of the top in the league and a early favorite to play in Dallas to add to their already record 6 Super Bowl Titles. Has Ben changed? Time will tell. Do people honestly care? As long as he wins Football games and stays out of trouble, I don’t think anyone could care less. What he has done is make March 8th of 2010 a thing of the past and is looking for a fresh start.
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com