The Steelers AFC Championship show down against the Patriots has drawn a lot of analysis from the pundits.
- Bill Belichick has waxed about stopping the Steelers Killer Bees
- Jim Wexell has analyzed Le’Veon Bell’s ability to rush against the Patriots stout run defense
- This site has stated someone must step up for the Steelers in the Red Zone
- Dale Lolley asserts that the key is James Harrison, Stephon Tuitt and Bud Dupree pressuring Tom Brady. Quickly
In addition, Keith Butler has confirmed that the Patriots have always “…tried to find our rookies” – in other words this is no time for Sean Davis, Javon Hargrave or Artie Burns to have stage fright set in.
The Steelers must do all of these things to beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship. But together they won’t be enough unless something else happens:
- Ben Roethlisberger must bring his A game against the Patriots.
While that should be self-evident, the truth is that Ben Roethlisberger has been at his best during the Steelers 2016 playoff run.
Big Ben certainly started strong against the Dolphins, but his interception late in the 2nd quarter could have allowed Miami back into the game. His 4th quarter interception came in garbage time, but nonetheless represented a bad decision by Ben.
- The Kansas City’s defense offered Ben Roethlisberger rougher sledding.
The Steelers struggled in the Red Zone. Kansas City has one of the NFL’s best run defenses and the truth is that several of their defenders stepped up to make some pretty impressive plays against the Steelers. But according to Jon Ledyard’s analysis on Steel City Insider, Ben Roethlisberger muffed two throws that he should have made, and erred in checking out of a running play on his only interception of the game.
Ben Roethlisberger Must Thread a Fine Needle in the AFC Championship
Throughout his career, Ben Roethlisberger has shown himself to be a big game quarterback. Michael Wilbon once said that if his life depended on the outcome of a game, he’d rather had Roethlisberger than any other NFL signal caller under center.
- But Ben Roethlisberger also sometimes tries to do too much by himself.
You could see it in the 2007 playoff loss to the Jaguars, perhaps in Super Bowl XLV (never saw the game, never will) and arguably in the third quarter of the Christmas show down with the Ravens. And therein lies a special challenge for Ben Roethlisberger in the AFC Championship.
Eli Rogers isn’t Martavis Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey isn’t Markus Wheaton and, if Cobi Hamilton IS out performing Sammie Coates, Hamilton still lacks Coates athleticism.
And while Jesse James has quietly developed into a legitimate receiving threat and Ladarius Green may suit up, the Ben Roethlisberger is still going to need to do his part to make all of the wide receivers not named Antonio Brown look a little better than they are.
- Yet, he must accomplish that without trying to do too much.
It is a delicate balance to strike, but if Ben Roethlisberger strikes that balance, then the Pittsburgh Steelers should head to Super Bowl LI.