PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — When will we learn? How much more does he have to do? Was last night enough to silence critics of Ben Roethlisberger and his hypochondriac ways? I hope so, as his ability to play hurt and win was cemented versus Cleveland Thursday night.
With just under seven minutes to play in the 2nd quarter, Ben suffered what looked like a ghastly broken leg or ankle when he was sandwiched on a pass attempt.
In typical Ben form, he held the ball in a pocket that was buzzing around him. Cleveland’s Scott Paxson came forward to grab Ben, but ended up sandwiching his leg to the Heinz Field sod.
Ben agonized in pain.
So did all of Steelers nation.
The national broadcasters were convinced Ben’s night was done. He was helped off the field, but he did manage to limp on his own. As he was carted to the locker room, again Ben got off the ATV and walked in on his own. Slap a lot of tape to Ben’s lower left leg and any other measures you can dream up and the legend of big bad Ben grows.
The national writers and media have been heaping praise on Roethlisberger and his Herculean efforts. His ability to battle through pain and injuries and win football games.
That’s what he does. It’s when Ben is at his best.
Now there are some out there in the local media that like to poke fun at Ben and some of the ‘injuries’ he’s had in the past. Some snicker and say he likes the attention. That some of the past nicks and bruises Ben suffered got played up more than the true nature of the injury and how it could effect his play.
Really? It’s so myopic to consider that. Talk about grasping for straws or talk-radio points.
So what if Ben, or his coach infer that he’s hurt more than he really is. Can’t you see the use of that in psychological warfare when it comes to the opponents teams face each week on a football field? How that might effect practices and preparation?
Haven’t guys like Bill Belichick taken liberty when listing players on the weekly injury report before? It’s his covert way of saying, “to hell with letting you know how banged up we are, I’m not giving you any additional info to help beat my team.”
It’s warfare both on and off the playing field. So what if the notion’s floated that Ben aches from some bone spur or sprain that in some form of the truth doesn’t fully exist?
If last night proves anything, it just cements Ben’s legacy as a true NFL tough guy like Butkis, Ditka, Nagurski, Singletary and Favre. Ben plays football and only tough guys play football. You need to be tough. Ever since he stepped into a Steelers uniform, Ben’s given it all and left plenty of it on the gridiron.
Roethlisberger proved he’s tougher than some give him to be last night. All he did was complete 16 of 21 passes for 280 yards and two touchdown’s as the Steelers dispatched the Cleve Brownies 14-3.
Ben threw 12 passes in the 2nd half, completing 8 of them for 178 yards, including the 79 yard TD pass to Antonio Brown with just under three minutes to play, icing the win.
Given the goal line stance that took place earlier in the quarter, plus the fact the Browns actually showed up and played a full 60 minute game for a change, the Steelers should feel lucky in more ways than one that they walked out winners.
Now 10-3, along with a stretch of 10+ days before the Steelers play a Monday Night affair in San Francisco, Roethlisberger will have some time to let team doctors have a good look at the damage suffered. One can only assume that Ben will be ready to face the 49ers.
The question is will they be ready for Ben Roethlisberger and the NFL’s version of Superman.
Most teams and critics rarely are.
John Phillips is the author of this article and a secret member of the Galactic Empire. When he’s not chasing down Jedi across East Carson Street, he can be heard hosting weekend talk-show’s and anchoring sports updates on 93.7 The Fan. Follow JP on Twitter at www.twitter.com/937Phillips