By Mike Prisuta
DETROIT _ Upon getting burned, Ben Roethlisberger went to work.
The Steelers' quarterback completed four consecutive passes after throwing an interception that was returned 38 yards for a touchdown by Lions cornerback William James on Sunday afternoon at Ford Field, a score that brought the Lions to within 14-13 midway through the second quarter.
It all started midway through the second period. After a Roethlisberger pass to Heath Miller for the touchdown that gave the Steelers a 14-6 lead, the defense came onto the field and pitched a three-and-out at the Lions, and after the punt it was first-and-10 from the 8-yard line.
Two plays later, on a first down from the 29-yard line, Roethlisberger struck deep, but Mike Wallace dropped the ball on a play that had 71-yard touchdown written all over it. Two plays after that came James' interception, which was followed by Roethlisberger's response.
Roethlisberger wound up completing 23 of 30 attempts for 277 yards, with three touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 123.9, in a 28-20 Steelers' victory. But coming back from a big mistake to lead the offense to a score is what the great ones do.
"This guy's a great quarterback," Coach Mike Tomlin said. "They don't blink, even in the face of adversity. Ben doesn't blink. Our offense doesn't blink. Hopefully, our football team doesn't blink. We went right back to work."
The pick-six occurred, Roethlisberger said, mostly because James "made a great play.
"I read the coverage," Roethlisberger said. "I threw a ball that was a pretty good ball. (Intended receiver) Mike (Wallace) ran a good route. I put it in the right spot. I just didn't put enough on it."
Roethlisberger reacted by asking offensive coordinator Bruce Arians for the play-calling responsibilities on the subsequent Steelers' possession.
"I told B.A., 'Let me call this series, this drive,'" Roethlisberger said. "I kind of got a little ticked off at myself and said, 'Give me the ball and let me go with it.'"
Stefan Logan returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards to the Steelers' 48-yard line.
From there, Roethlisberger called running back Rashard Mendenhall's number (4-yard run) and then cranked up the no-huddle offense, hitting tight end Heath Miller for 10, handing off to Mendenhall for 1, finding Miller for 11 and then for 17 and, finally, Ward for the 17-yard touchdown that allowed the Steelers to counter James' thievery.
"The thing that's exciting right now offensively is Ben's using all his eligibles," Tomlin said. "He's dumping the ball to Rashard. He's dumping the ball to (running back) Mewelde Moore. Of course, Heath is a constant. (Roethlisberger) is finding his third wideout in Mike Wallace.
"I think as long as you use all the eligibles and kind of be inclusive and throw the ball to the open man we're going to be a tougher unit to stop."
Roethlisberger emerged disappointed that the Steelers went three-and-out on a possession that began with 4:57 left in the fourth quarter after Detroit had closed to within 28-20.
"The standard is higher for us as an offense," Roethlisberger said. "We have to be able to use the five minutes at the end of the game to use it up and score.
"I'm a little disappointed with how I played and the offense played at the end."
Mike Prisuta is the sports director for WDVE-FM in Pittsburgh, the flagship station on the Steelers Radio Network.