The Steelers offense starts with Bell, But the team goes as far as Ben takes them (Mike Pelaia's Column Nov. 22)

Finally, the Steelers put up a massive amount of points in a game this season. It happened in their last game against the Tennessee Titans when they dropped 40 on the shell-shocked team from the South.
The Black and Gold may have only had three days in between games but that didn’t show. They were firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball. But, perhaps the most important aspect of the blowout victory was the play of their captain, Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger has had a mediocre (by his standards only, of course) season to date, despite the team having a 7-2 record entering this past week. Just last week I had written that the team, while displaying a great record, didn’t feel great to me. Something was missing, and the biggest thing missing was the play of Roethlisberger, the man who has been so good for so long.
Well, he stepped up and showed the world what he’s still capable of, this past Thursday, Nov. 16, when he tossed four touchdowns to go along with his 299 yards. And oh by the way, he didn’t throw an interception. Perhaps even more wonderful to see was the elusiveness in the pocket that has been his trademark for so many seasons, yet seemed to be missing through the first nine games of this current campaign. Against the Titans, Roethlisberger was not easy to bring down, he scrambled (in only a way he can) to extend plays and he made some laser sharp throws.
I have stated on multiple occasions this season that the offense must start with Le’Veon Bell and I will not deviate from that. He is the key to the offense getting things going, but as we have seen in recent seasons and finally again against Tennessee, the team goes as far as Roethlisberger takes them.
When Big Ben is off of his game, lacks accuracy or is just having a bad day, the team may win, but they tend to struggle, or at least scrap their way to victory. Even when Bell is cutting through defenses like a hot knife through butter, the team doesn’t have as easy of a time as they often should, if Ben isn’t firing on all cylinders.
However, when Ben is on and throwing darts to Antonio Brown at a record pace, when he’s escaping the pocket and making his trademark plays and not making the big (or any) mistakes, this team is as good as anyone in the league.
Every team with Super Bowl aspirations needs to have a superstar quarterback. Ben is just that. He’s proven that time and time again. He’s had what we’ll call a slower start to this season, but he seemed to have finally arrived on Thursday night, Nov. 16. If he’s going to play like he did against Tennessee, then many special things are ahead for the Steelers.
The schedule, outside of New England, is relatively weak the rest of the way, and these final six games may serve as the necessary time for Ben to get on a massive roll before the postseason.
Ben Roethlisberger, the captain, the vet, the two-time Super Bowl champ, is the key to the long-term success of this team and they will go as far as Number 7 takes them.


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