Plays of the Year: Big Ben stands tall, extends the play, and ices the Bucs

Steel City Underground presents “Plays of the Year” featuring the tops runs, catches, hits and everything else in-between from the Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 season.

The following is a guest contribution by Steve Dillon. Thank you Steve for highlighting this great play!

The Steelers got off to a rough start in the 2018 season, blowing a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter against the Browns in Week 1 and losing their home opener to an explosive Kansas City Chiefs team in a Week 2 shootout.

There were several headlines going into Week 3’s road trip to Tampa Bay. The Steelers were 0-1-1, their running back was sitting out after not signing his franchise tender, and a receiver got into an online spat with a former employee, making a veiled “trade me” threat while apparently missing meetings too.

With those storylines aside, the onus for the upcoming Monday Night Football matchup against the Buccaneers was on Pittsburgh’s defense, which had just given up 6 touchdown passes to the Chiefs Patrick Mahomes.

How would they hold up against the red-hot Buccaneers, who were coming off of back-to-back 400-yard games from Ryan Fitzpatrick?

In short, the Steelers desperately needed a win to get their season back on track. The defense certainly did more than its fair share to win the game, forcing four turnovers (including a pick-six in the first half).

But an untimely breakdown in the second half forced the offense to make a big play to hold onto their dangerously thin 30-27 lead late in the game.

Pittsburgh fans held their breath after a first down run with 2:40 left on the clock went nowhere and it looked like they might have to punt the ball back to the Bucs and pray for their defense to make a stop.

Staring down a 2nd-and-long, the Steelers turned to their future Hall of Fame quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, to close out the game with a win. As you would expect an all-time-great to do, Big Ben answered the call, stepping up at a critical moment.

On one of the best plays of the 2018 season, Roethlisberger took the snap on 2nd-and-10 with 2:30 left and held onto the ball for what seemed like an eternity. Three Buccaneers defenders got a piece of Ben, but he did what he has done so many times in his long career: extend the play.

Roethlisberger shook off a bull-rushing Gerald McCoy, sidestepped past Vinny Curry, avoided a sack from William Gholston, and threw a pinpoint pass across his body into a tight window to JuJu Smith-Schuster for 11 yards to pick up the first down.

The play was vintage Ben. Juju himself showered Roethlisberger with praise for the play on his YouTube channel, calling Ben an “artist,” proclaiming that the throw was “huge” and that he still doesn’t know how his quarterback saw him.

Ben clinched the game on one of the most underappreciated plays of the 2018 season that would’ve been picked up immediately by the national media if the throw had been made by Aaron Rodgers or Patrick Mahomes!

Finally securing a precious win, the Steelers moved to 1-1-1 heading into a primetime home matchup against the Ravens. Had Roethlisberger not completed the pass, the Steelers might have found themselves without a win three weeks into the year… and we are aware of how Week 4 went as well!

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