Steel City Underground presents "Steelers Throwback Thursday" featuring plays from recent seasons which you may have forgotten about! Now we're "bringing them back!"
The 2012-13 NFL regular season wasn't one of the best in Pittsburgh Steelers history. Pittsburgh faced the eventual AFC West division-winning Denver Broncos in Week 1. NFC East division-winning Washington Redskins in Week 8, followed by the New York Giants in Week 9 who took second place in that division. They then faced the Baltimore Ravens twice at the bottom of their regular-season schedule, splitting the series, before the Ravens beat the New England Patriots on their way to a Super Bowl win over the San Francisco 49ers.
It was a strange year that saw Pittsburgh lose to teams that would finish with a worse record than theirs, but go on a four-game win streak smack dab in the middle of the season before things fizzled into an 8-8 win-loss record and no trip to the playoffs while AFC North rival Baltimore and Cincinnati got in. In Week 15, a rivalry game of another sort was set between the Dallas Cowboys and Steelers at Cowboy's Stadium. Regardless of their backs being against the wall, it was a play by Ben Roethlisberger that would show analysts to what lengths he would go to extend plays in order to earn a win.
With just 34 seconds left before halftime, down by seven, Roethlisberger took the snap from the shotgun on second-and-ten. With the offensive line creating a decent area to work within, aided by Jonathan Dwyer, Roethlisberger looked down the field for an open receiver. After stepping up in the pocket, however, the Cowboys defense started to zero in on "Big Ben". Spinning out of the grasp of one defender, Roethlisberger rolled to the right and pumped the ball - hard. Several Cowboys jumped at his fake. Shuffling into another open spot behind his blockers, Roethlisberger continued to scan the field, his head on a swivel, before finding tight end Heath Miller for a 30-yard touchdown catch-and-run.
Roethlisberger has one of the best, and hardest, pump fakes among all NFL quarterbacks. He has become famous for extending plays. Although that hasn't always worked to the Steelers' benefit, there are many times - like this game in Steelers history - when it has given Pittsburgh exactly what it needed to keep drives alive and win games. This one play also illustrates the almost Jedi-like way that Miller and Roethlisberger could communicate with each other on the field without saying a single word.
In the end, the Cowboys would get the win that day off of the foot of Dan Bailey for the go-ahead field goal. Pittsburgh, however, would go on to count on Roethlisberger to extend plays, especially in critical situations, and use Miller as his go-to guy. Just two seasons later (2014), Roethlisberger would connect with Miller on 66 receptions (91 targets) for 761 yards (11.5 yards per catch), three touchdowns, an average of 47.6 yards per game and a catch percentage of 72.5 - one of the best seasons the duo had together while both were active.