The statistic is staggering.
In his career, Ben Roethlisberger has orchestrated 45 game-winning drives, the last one coming against Jacksonville which broke a tie with John Elway for sixth-most in the NFL.
Roethlisberger is proud of them, but also was quick to joke about them.
“You get on this list of fourth quarter comebacks, but I always joke that usually that means you stunk it up the first three quarters,” said Roethlisberger. “So I need to play better early.”
Joking aside, Roethlisberger is the master of the comeback, something he showed against the Jaguars when the Steelers erased a 16-point deficit, beginning late in the third quarter, and overcame throwing three interceptions.
“It takes a special type of player to do that,” said offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner. “There was nothing going right for Ben until probably the end of the third quarter.”
But it was the final drive of the game, with the Steelers down 16-13, that is what legends are made of. Roethlisberger took the team on a seven play, 68-yard drive that he capped off with a one-yard touchdown run with just five seconds to play to give the Steelers a 20-16 win.
“He is naturally competitive,” said Fichtner. “When you are as competitive as he is sometimes it works against you. In moments like that, he is going to find a way to will a win, make a play. He is never going to be timid or scared to make that play and take that risk. He is willing to own it, he is willing to own I took a calculated risk it didn’t work and it’s on me. Because of that he is a captain and leader of our team.”
Fichtner said the play that broke the ice in that game was the first touchdown, a 78-yard play where Antonio Brown had the catch and run late in the third quarter.
“Those two hooked up like they have in the past,” said Fichtner. “That gives you that encouragement.
“I don’t think there was anyone amongst the group, including Ben, that was going to push a panic button. We hadn’t played near where we wanted to play, and we were searching for someone to make a play. But there was no panic. You don’t see that out of any of our guys no matter how dire it might look at times, there is always plenty of time.”
While Roethlisberger’s on-field play mainly led to the comeback, something fans didn’t see…or should I say hear…also had an impact. Roethlisberger gave a passionate halftime speech where he didn’t mince words.
“He was pretty emotional at halftime,” said Fichtner. “I didn’t hear a lot of it. I heard loud voices. I knew he pulled the group up. He was the first to point the finger at himself. But trust him and keep working together. That is their makeup in general.”