Ben's first start was memorable

Steelers 13, Miami Dolphins 3September 26, 2004
Pro Player Stadium

Ben Roethlisberger's first NFL start was delayed after a 1 p.m. kickoff against the Dolphins was changed to 8:30 p.m. because of Hurricane Jeanne, but it was worth the wait for the rookie quarterback.

While the hurricane moved out by game time, the bad weather didn't as a tropical depression brought rain, wind, and muddy conditions to Pro Player Stadium.

"It was muddy, it was wet, but it was fun," Roethlisberger said. "Talk about getting thrown into the fire, playing in a hurricane and against that defense."

The Steelers managed 155 yards in the first half, but could only muster a Jeff Reed field goal while battling the conditions. The defense was in shutdown mode, holding the Dolphins to just 54 first half yards and forcing three turnovers to take a 3-0 lead into the locker room at the half.

"The weather in the first half was not conducive to doing anything," said Coach Bill Cowher. "We couldn't even hold the ball. Both teams couldn't throw it. But that's the kind of football I love.

"That's football to me. I love games like that."

The start of the second half was slightly delayed so the grounds crew could treat the dirt baseball infield at Pro Player Stadium, and while the footing was never good, the Steelers did get rolling.

A 51-yard field goal by Reed extended the Steelers lead to 6-0 in the third quarter, but the Dolphins closed the gap in the fourth quarter to 6-3 on an Olindo Mare 34-yard field goal.

The Steelers hard-hitting defense kept the Dolphins out of the end zone, but the Dolphins No. 1 ranked defense couldn't do the same.

Roethlisberger engineered a fourth quarter touchdown drive, highlighted by two third down passes, an 18-yard completion to Plaxico Burress and 20-yard grab by Hines Ward. Roethlisberger capped it with a seven-yard touchdown to Ward, who made an amazing, diving catch for a 13-3 lead that would stand.

"You got to give a lot of credit to both Hines and Plax for staying with me on those scrambles," said Roethlisberger. "And it's a lot to ask of an offensive line not to hold when you scramble."

Running backs Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis closed it out for the offense on their final drive, with Staley carrying the ball three times for 49 yards for his game high 101 yards rushing.  

Roethlisberger's numbers might not have been eye-popping, completing 12 of 22 passes for 163 yards and having his first pass of the game intercepted, but his scrambling ability, resiliency and ruggedness were definitely a preview of what was to come.

"He never lost his composure and he played like I thought he would play," said Cowher. "He just enjoys playing. This is a great learning experience. He went up against a great defense with two solid corners. After the first play when he threw the interception, he bounced back. After that, he made good decisions and gave guys a chance to make some plays."

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In 2004 the Steelers defeated the Dolphins in a regular season game 13-3.

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