A weekly analysis of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback play.
Rewind: Ben Roethlisberger continued his stellar play in leading the Steelers to a 19-16 win over the Baltimore Ravens. He completed 17 of 23 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown and did not commit a turnover for the second consecutive game. Roethlisberger was not flashy, but the Steelers didn’t need him to be given the success they had running the ball and keeping the Ravens out of the end zone. His longest completion went for only 19 yards, but Roethlisberger should have had a 20-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter. The 10th-year veteran threw a good ball to wide receiver Derek Moye in the end zone, but Moye could not make the catch.
Fast-forward: Roethlisberger will try to win for the first time in his career in Oakland, where he has had mixed results in two previous games. Roethlisberger torched the Raiders last year with a season-high 384 yards and four touchdowns, but defense betrayed the Steelers in a 34-31 loss. Roethlisberger threw for more than 300 yards in 2006 against the Raiders, but he also served up four interceptions in the Steelers’ 20-13 loss. The caveat to that performance is that Roethlisberger had been knocked out of the previous week’s game at Atlanta with a concussion, and there had been questions as to whether he should have even played in Oakland.
A return to form: Roethlisberger put it best when asked about the late drive that set up Shaun Suisham’s game-winning field goal this past Sunday. “It’s about time,” Roethlisberger said. Indeed, a player who built his reputation on performing at his best in the clutch had not led the Steelers back from a fourth-quarter tie or deficit in almost a year. Roethlisberger also threw late interceptions in close losses to the Cowboys and Bengals down the stretch, and those defeats kept the Steelers out of the playoffs. Just as he had been all game against the Ravens, Roethlisberger was more methodical than anything in leading the offense after getting the ball at the Steelers' 34-yard line with less than two minutes to play. Roethlisberger completed three of four passes for 31 yards, and Suisham did the rest after Big Ben had moved the Steelers inside the Ravens' 24-yard line.
Prediction: This is probably a good week for fantasy owners to start Roethlisberger. The Raiders are in the top 10 in the NFL in rushing defense (99.0 yards), and they are yielding 241 passing yards. Roethlisberger has a history of putting up big numbers against the Raiders -- he is averaging 312.3 passing yards in his past three games against Oakland with nine touchdowns and one interception -- and the Steelers are probably going to have to throw the ball to beat the Raiders.