Big Ben: Godsend

Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
By Travis Boariu
Steelers Fever Columnist


Ben Roethlisberger

Tampa, Florida. Super Bowl XLIII. February 1st, 2009. Arizona Cardinals 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 20. 2:30 seconds to go.....
-----------------------
"With the 11th pick of the 2004 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select, Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback, Miami of Ohio."

Godsend.

I remember the day the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted their young franchise quarterback with their 11th overall selection in the 2004 NFL Draft. It was odd to say the least. You see, Steelers fans came to the realization and delusion that mediocre quarterbacking was the Steeler-way. As long as we had a vicious defense, 'WEEEEE HAD A FEEEEEELING, PITTSBURGH'S GOIN' TO THE SUPER BOWL!....."

The Pittsburgh Steelers had many problems to address from the season prior. In 2003, the Steelers ended with an awful 6-10 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2000. Their defensive secondary was in absolute shambles. Horrid to say the least. Cornerback and the free safety position needed to be addressed immediately.

Year after year, we went as far as our defense could take us. It's the only thing we ever knew in the Steel City. After all, we did have (failed product) Tommy Maddox leading the way under center in the "run and shoot" offense. We didn't need a quarterback. Did we?
-----------------------
Tampa, Florida. Super Bowl XLIII. February 1st, 2009. Arizona Cardinals 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 20. 2:30 seconds to go.....

"We will win this game. We will win this Super Bowl. This is why you draft him. THIS moment is why you draft him #11 overall. Watch it happen." These were the words I repeated over and over again as our backsides uncomfortably lined up inches away from our own endzone to start a do or die drive. These eyes seen it time and time again. Game after game. He won't let us down. I know it. Not here. Not now.
-----------------------
"Exciting? No, it's not exciting," Faneca said. "Do you want to go to work with some little young kid who just got out of college?”

Those were the words spoken out of All-Pro guard Alan Faneca when a young kid nicknamed ‘Big Ben’ was immediately inserted into the starting lineup.

Ben Roethlisberger Week 2 of the 2004 season, quarterback Tommy Maddox suffered a severe elbow injury in Baltimore that ultimately handed the keys over to a 20-some year old rookie punk quarterback in a city where championship aspirations was drooled upon. The team came oh-so-close many times before, both in the 90's and early 2000's, but always fell short of the goal-line in the end.

The dark shadow of the Pittsburgh dynasty of the 70's hovered over the city. How could something so beautiful and full of history turn into a silent haunting over Steelers Nation?

At the time, you couldn’t blame Faneca’s words. The panic button was already pushed 2 weeks into the season. After all, the league in 2004 wasn’t what it was today with rookie quarterbacks taking over. It didn’t help Roethlisberger’s case that his very first pass from scrimmage was intercepted by then Ravens linebacker Bart Scott.

Rookie quarterback. Traveling to Miami. First start. Steelers fans aren't dumb. Growing pains were apart of football. This was the beginning of a new era.

Everybody thunk it atleast once: "This could be a very, very long season."
-----------------------
Tampa, Florida. Super Bowl XLIII. February 1st, 2009. Arizona Cardinals 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 20. 2:30 seconds to go.....

Ball on our own 12 yard line. Down by 3. Pass complete to Santonio Holmes. "Hurry up!" Deep pass to Nate Washington. Incomplete. 2:00 warning. "This is why you draft him." Pass complete to Santonio Holmes for a first down in traffic. "We will win this game. He's going to do it."

Pass complete to Nate Washington for a first down. 50 yard line. "This is why you draft him." Quarterback scramble. 1:02 seconds to go. 45 yard line. Hard-pump, pass complete to Santonio Holmes and he's off to the races. Down at the 5 yard line. 49 seconds to go.

Pump fake, laser to the back corner of the endzone, TOUCHDO--...so close. Right through the hands of Holmes. There was the game-winner. We may have just seen it slip right through our hands.

0:43 seconds left to go…
-----------------------
On September 26th, 2004 a legend was born. That day on the calendar year in 2004 started a Pittsburgh frenzy. Roethlisberger got his first win that day. A torrential downpour threatened in Miami, but Ben never wavered. Not even a flinch, leading his team to a 13-3 victory on the road, propelling the Steelers to a 2-1 record.

Ben Roethlisberger He went onto win 14 games in a row, including a breathtaking win over the New York Jets in the Divisional Round of the playoffs before bailing out of the post-season with a loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game. Broken toes and all (that moment started what many say the 'Prima Donna' era.)

Not a bad start to the resume for a 'little young kid coming out of college', going 13-0 as a starter. That’s not the only thing. If things couldn’t have gone smoother (even in a devastating loss to end the 2004 season) better days were ahead for the Pittsburgh Steelers and their young, franchise quarterback.

Ben showed true leadership that night. Stunned and emotionally abused on the sideline, Roethlisberger begged and promised to legendary running back Jerome Bettis that if he came back for one more year, he'd get him back to the AFC Title game. Easy for the kid to say. Cocky? Confidence?

Ben lived up to his word in 2005. Pittsburgh was Detroit bound, winning Super Bowl XL versus the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 in Bettis' hometown.

CONFIDENCE.
-----------------------
0:43 seconds left to go....

4 receiver set. Motion, Hines Ward. Do or die. The snap. Looks right. Looks middle. Looks left. He waits. Nobody open. "Get rid of the ball!'

"Throws in the back of the endzone and it isssssss, caught! For a touchdown! By Holmes!"

Al Michaels's words were just as gorgeous as his famous "Do you believe in miracles!" quote when the United States hockey team shocked the Soviet Union at the Olympics in 1980.

Game Winning Touchdown Okay, maybe not legendary, but to diehard Steelers fans around the world, it ranks up there. Roethlisberger completed a miracle drive with a miracle pass (between 3 defenders) to Santonio Holmes only God could have orchestrated from the heavens above. Ben admitted when he let the football flow off his fingertips, he thought it was going to be intercepted. He whispered to himself that he just lost his team the Super Bowl.

#7 threw himself into untouchable NFL lore with Hall of Famers such as Joe Montana and John Elway (his role-model as a kid) on the games biggest stage. That throw and catch (Thanks, Santonio!) gave Pittsburgh an unprecedented NFL league leading 6 Lombardi Trophies and Big Ben's second Super Bowl ring.

That's why you draft him. That moment is why the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted the kid out of Miami of Ohio with their 11th overall selection. Dan Rooney once said the Steelers would never make the mistake on passing up a franchise quarterback again if the opportunity fell on their lap (Dan Marino, anyone?)

This time, the Steelers got theirs.

That Super Bowl XLIII moment answered every critic that questioned our front office's decision to select a quarterback in our first round of the 2004 NFL draft. Ben's current regular season record as a starter stands at 81-35 and 10-4 in the post-season (trailing only New England quarterback Tom Brady: 16-5.)

8 years ago today, Ben Roethlisberger got his first start as the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback (September 26th, 2004.) We never looked back.

Godsend

Godsend.