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AZ_Steeler
11-11-2007, 09:23 PM
Link to story... (http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=cr-steelerswin111107&prov=yhoo&type=lgns)

PITTSBURGH As Ben Roethlisberger rose up and headed for the field after halftime Sunday, Mike Tomlin seized the moment for an unseen coaching session. Trailing the Cleveland Browns 21-9 at Heinz Field and knowing the AFC North lead was hanging in the balance, the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach made sure to pull his franchise quarterback to the side.

"He said 'Listen, you've got a chance to win this (in minute) 29 or 30 of this half,' " Roethlisberger recalled. "I just told him, 'Hey, I'm gonna get this for you.' "

Thirty minutes and 22 Pittsburgh points later, Roethlisberger had done just that, sandwiching a 30-yard scoring scramble between a pair of passing touchdowns. That trio of pivotal plays conjured a 31-28 comeback win and established a suddenly suffocating Pittsburgh grip on the AFC North.

In many ways, that halftime moment epitomized the fingerprint Tomlin has put on this franchise, showcasing his trademark cool in the face of adversity, not to mention his unflappable confidence in his quarterback. And his little pep talk with Roethlisberger came only moments after a halftime speech where the coach put his team at ease with a booster shot of composure.

"We went in and he wasn't panicked at all, and that was important," Steelers linebacker Lamar Woodley said. "We needed to see that he wasn't worried about it. We saw that, and we weren't worried about it. He just said, 'You guys know we haven't been here before (trailing at halftime at home). But we're not going to change what we do. We're going to take it as an opportunity to show our composure.' "

And the Steelers were the definition of poise in the second half, scoring twice to take a 24-21 lead, then bouncing back for a game-clinching score after Browns returner Joshua Cribbs seemingly sucked the oxygen out of Heinz Field with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Cribbs' score put Cleveland ahead 28-24, and set the stage for Roethlisberger, who had rocked the stadium only minutes before with a captivating 30-yard touchdown run.

Suddenly trailing again, Roethlisberger led the Steelers on a 78-yard touchdown drive that punctuated his growth this season. The drive put a spotlight on Roethlisberger at his best side-stepping pressure, progressing though his reads and at the end, delivering a spot-on two-yard dart to tight end Heath Miller. That touchdown would be just enough, as Cleveland's ensuing drive and game-tying 52-yard field goal fell short with six seconds left.

Taken as a microcosm of Roethlisberger's season, the fourth quarter was just the latest brush stroke on an entirely new masterpiece for the fourth-year quarterback. While he still displays the escapability and improvisation that has marked his successes in Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger's decision-making has appeared to reach a new level this season. Gone are some of last year's mistakes, when he was locking on to his primary read or forcing balls into coverage.

Since offensive coordinator Bruce Arians took over in the offseason and installed his spread scheme, Roethlisberger has thrived at finding players in space particularly his check-down options. And his numbers suggest that he belongs in the conversation with the league's elite. As of Sunday night, only Tom Brady had thrown for more than Roethlisberger's 22 touchdown passes. And only Brady boasted a higher quarterback rating than Roethlisberger's 110.2. Such production naturally raises the question of whether he's firmly taken his place alongside Brady and the NFL's other legend in the making, Peyton Manning.

"Maybe someday I'd like (to be included in that company) if I feel like I'm up there with them," Roethlisberger said of the suggested greatness. "Let those guys get talked about. I'd rather talk about the Steelers."

What might place Roethlisberger in the company of Manning and Brady more than any statistic is his newfound knack for manipulating defenses. Not only has he been calling his own blocking coverages at the line of scrimmage, he's begun to consistently identify weaknesses in opposing defenses on the fly. A prime example Sunday came on his 30-yard touchdown run, when he recognized early in the game that Cleveland's linebackers were bailing into coverage in certain looks.

"They ran a lot of that 22 man, where they are zoned in on the receivers and the running backs," Roethlisberger said of his touchdown run. "The lanes opened up and you've got to be able to take that run."

"That's just a bonus," Miller added. "Whenever something breaks down, the receivers are covered (or) someone squeaks though the line, that's where he really becomes special."

That has parlayed into a special start in Tomlin's regime, too. With Sunday's win, Pittsburgh now has a commanding two-game lead on Cleveland in the AFC North, and with the sweep of the Browns, the tie-breaker as well. Sitting at 7-2, they have a very feasible shot at challenging Indianapolis for the AFC's No. 2 seed a pivotal goal, since it would get Pittsburgh out of New England's way until the AFC Championship game.

And it's worth mentioning that this team has yet to match up with the Patriots head-to-head. That will be crossed off the list on Dec. 9, when Pittsburgh travels to Foxboro to see if it can close out the victory that the Colts couldn't. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but the Steelers are earning their stripes along the way, whether by blowout or comeback.

"I thought we needed one of these," defensive end Aaron Smith said. "I didn't want it to be like this, but maybe sometimes you need to see what your team is made of as far as when they are down and what kind of character they have."

Clearly, Pittsburgh proved its mettle Sunday. And next?

"You win your division and make the playoffs," cornerback Deshea Townsend said. "Then we can start thinking big."

Charles Robinson is a national NFL writer for Yahoo! Sports. Send Charles a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

BlitzburghRockCity
11-11-2007, 09:43 PM
In years past the halftime speech would have been filled with expletives and a rah rah session to get the guys fired up. Now with Tomlin it's quiet confidence and nothing but support for his guys. He knew that we gave them 14 of their 21 points in the first half so it wasn't like they were dominating us in every facet of the game but rather if we played like we knew we could and get moving in a positive direction on the field that good things would happen and they did.

SteelerSteve
11-11-2007, 09:49 PM
Great read:bigthumb: At first, early on in this game I was beginning to wonder how good we actually were, but after the half, they showed that they just came out early on with out much intensity or focus and they proved that the Steelers can comeback and show heart when they are down. I am happy with this win.

BBG7
11-11-2007, 10:04 PM
You know...for some reason, I still had a lot of confidence in our guys at half. I knew we were beating ourselves, and we would get out of it. I'm glad Tomlin is so calm and collected when dealing with these guys!!!

DIESELMAN
11-11-2007, 10:20 PM
Good article :bigthumb:


In many ways, that halftime moment epitomized the fingerprint Tomlin has put on this franchise, showcasing his trademark cool in the face of adversity, not to mention his unflappable confidence in his quarterback. And his little pep talk with Roethlisberger came only moments after a halftime speech where the coach put his team at ease with a booster shot of composure.
Definitely like the way Tomlin is coaching the Steelers...Cool as the other side of the pillow.

BlacknGold Bleeder
11-12-2007, 12:04 AM
The defense took a half off, then came out and decided enough was enough... time for STEELERS football...:helmet::tt02:

floodcitygirl
11-12-2007, 12:27 AM
Ok...well i admit it....i was freaking panicked. Glad y'all were so calm. As long as the halftime helped to get the job done....cool. lol

dkanna
11-12-2007, 08:33 AM
I think I had about 3 heart attacks during that game :). I think Tomlin is gonna take this team far. Rothlisberger stepped up so well in this game and surprised even me. Excellent read, thanks.

memphissteelergirl
11-12-2007, 10:42 AM
I think I had about 3 heart attacks during that game :).

*Hand on chest and staggering*
OHHHHH....This is the big one!! I'm comin to join ya, Elizabeth!! LOL

If I still had a habit of biting my fingernails, I would have none right now! :lol:
But this team showed a lot of character in this game. I am especially proud of Big Ben...he is really growing up and taking on the role as leader.

SteelerSteve
11-12-2007, 02:52 PM
You know...for some reason, I still had a lot of confidence in our guys at half. I knew we were beating ourselves, and we would get out of it. I'm glad Tomlin is so calm and collected when dealing with these guys!!!I agree with you, I admit I was starting to worry, but I think that deep down, this was never going to be Cleveland's game. How could it be? we own the browns.
:tt02:

GoBenGo
11-12-2007, 05:09 PM
:bigthumb:
You know...for some reason, I still had a lot of confidence in our guys at half. I knew we were beating ourselves, and we would get out of it. I'm glad Tomlin is so calm and collected when dealing with these guys!!!:plus1: Right On Beeby ,I never thought we would lose either, I believe in our boys like I haven't been able to in a long time. I mean , this team seems better than, alot better, than our XL team even.

SteelersWoman
11-12-2007, 07:00 PM
We can take an entire half off and win against lesser teams--as long as know they HAVE to play the entire 60 minutes as if their lives depend on it against equal (or better) teams.