Home Sports NFL insider notes: Ben Roethlisberger extends Hall of Fame career with Steelers, plus more from Week 18 – CBS Sports

NFL insider notes: Ben Roethlisberger extends Hall of Fame career with Steelers, plus more from Week 18 – CBS Sports

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NFL insider notes: Ben Roethlisberger extends Hall of Fame career with Steelers, plus more from Week 18 – CBS Sports

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It was only fitting that Ben Roethlisberger would extend his career in this manner. It seems fairly perfect, given the arc of his career and the legacy he left for extending plays and always keeping hope alive, that he would walk off the field in Baltimore, beating his bitter rivals on another walk-off win, in overtime, in pouring rain, and doing it by overcoming a litany of third-and-forever and fourth-and-forever to get it done.
While Big Ben was ending the Ravens‘ season with a sixth straight defeat (and pathetic 1-5 record within the AFC North), he was getting help where few expected. The Jaguars, somehow, took it to the Colts for all four quarters in Jacksonville on a day when most Jags fans showed up to protest their owner. Everything has fallen into place, and the future first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback boarded a plane back home knowing that as long as the Chargers and Raiders didn’t tie in the final game of the season, he was going to the playoffs. That Sunday night game perhaps came closer to that tie than he or the Steelers would have preferred, but in the end they got what they needed.
It’s been quite a week, even by Big Ben’s lofty standards. Last Monday night he ended whatever remained of the Browns season, and he received a hero’s send-off at Heinz Field, with the entire football world watching, in what almost certainly was his final home game. Then six days later, after yet another astonishingly slow start for the Steelers and despite losing do-everything running back Najee Harris for much of the day, he executed yet another miracle fourth-quarterback comeback before finishing the deal in overtime.
He pulled something out of nothing, again. Again, nothing could have been more fitting.
Big Ben to Chase Claypool for the Steelers TD.

Steelers take the LEAD! pic.twitter.com/k59cMKGliF

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The Steelers entered the fourth quarter going 1-for-9 on third and fourth downs and sputtering to do anything at all, amassing just 126 net yards on 38 plays through the first three quarters. They went on to produce 188 yards on 37 plays the rest of the way, and did it in vintage Big Ben fashion. With Baltimore’s team-wide pass-rushing failures as evident as ever, and coordinator Wink Martindale’s defense failing to get off the field in the fourth quarter all year, Roethlisberger feasted.
He converted on a third-and-9 (picking up 20 yards) and a third-and-6, and a third-and-7, and a third-and-9, which led to their go-ahead TD. Then tied 13-13 in overtime, facing a fourth-and-8 after a dropped pass negated a potential third-and-8 conversion, magic happened once more. The entire season was on the line at midfield; punting made no sense as a tie would eliminate both teams. All Big Ben did was find Ray-Ray McCloud over the middle to pick up the first down and set up the game-winning field goal.
This Steelers team is not fortified for a real playoff push, and it’s hard to imagine them doing much if they get in. But then again, defying the odds is what Roethlisberger does best, and I’m not sure anyone could have predicted this 9-7-1 finish and this team being as viable as it ended up being. He keeps escaping. He keeps extending. And his career isn’t over yet.
This was mostly a lost season for Trevor Lawrence, but Sunday showed the promise within. After a rookie season filled almost entirely with slow starts and turmoil, the first-overall pick appeared fully out of Urban Meyer’s dark shadow in Week 18, and flourished as rarely seen.
Lawrence was nearly perfect in the first half, taking control of the game on a day when the Colts defense had some issues, Indy’s offensive line was overpowered (a rarity), and Carson Wentz did not play winning football. Lawrence was 19-for-25 for 208 yards and a touchdown and no interceptions in leading the Jaguars to an improbable 20-point lead. And it started on the first drive.
The Colts had to start feeling concerned when Lawrence converted on third-and-12 and third-and-10 and then, finally, third-and-1 to take a quick 7-0 lead. He used his feet exceedingly well and seemed as at ease and comfortable as I have seen him all year.
It’s probably far too little too late to salvage interim head coach Darrell Bevell’s chances of getting the head coaching job there, but the way the Jags played a week after getting destroyed by the Patriots was noteworthy. Now we’ll see if the Khans are truly willing to pair Bill O’Brien with current general manager Trent Baalke in what would be seemingly an attempt to relive the type of toxicity they endured during Meyer’s brief regime. It would be quite a bold strategy.
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