Roethlisberger takes punch, gives plenty back

Ben Roethlisberger finally looked like the Ben Roethlisberger of old in leading the Steelers to a 35-3 pounding of the Oakland Raiders. Here's Mike Prisuta's take:

Ben Roethlisberger had talked leadership prior to a Sunday afternoon clash with the Raiders destined to dictate the course of the Steelers' season, and also about how it was "time for me to turn it on."

He delivered on both accords.

Roethlisberger's rush to get in between Chris Kemoeatu and Richard Seymour following a 22-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders inadvertently got Seymour thrown out of the game just prior to halftime. Seymour slugged Roethlisberger and Seymour was gone.

That's what leadership can do for a team.

Prior to that, Roethlisberger had completed 12 of 19 passes for 152 yards and the Sanders score, numbers that on their own didn't dazzle but were nonetheless significant in a wrestling match such as this. When he had to be, Roethlisberger was on time and on target. And he achieved those 12 completions by hooking up with eight different pass catchers.

That's turning it on.

His finest moment might have been the 16-yard scramble that produced a rushing touchdown when Roethlisberger vacated the pocket, headed up the field, cut back at the Oakland 10-yard line rather than jog out of bounds, then ran through Tyvon Branch and extended into the end zone.

That's an example of leading by turning it on.

What Roethlisberger exuded mostly against Oakland was a sense of, "Let's go, get on my back, y'all be where you need to be and I'll put it there,'" wide receiver Antwaan Randle El said.

There were other elements that stood out in what became a resounding and reassuring 35-3 victory over the once-hated Raiders.

The Steelers stayed persistent with Rashard Mendenhall and got what they needed out of the ground game.

The defense slammed Darren McFadden and then attacked Jason Campbell in stark contrast to the sit-back-and-get-carved-up approach that had proven so ineffective against Tom Brady.

And the kicker didn't make any excuses, mostly because there was no need to rely upon Shaun Suisham for anything other than kickoffs and extra points.

But mostly this one was about Roethlisberger doing what he had set out to do. The urgency he displayed resonated.

Not that Roethlisberger was alone in his perception that beating the Raiders was a really big deal for the Steelers. It was announced late Sunday morning that Ramon Foster would be replacing Trai Essex at right guard. And once the game began, the Steelers did what they could to attack in a manner that was both aggressive and out of the norm. We saw the first five-wide receivers sets of the season. And we saw a throwback-gadget from Randle El to Roethlisberger, who then threw downfield on a play that was more revealing than it was ultimately effective.

Getting a lead for a change seemed to be paramount. Roethlisberger and the offense provided one and the defense took it from there.

In the end, Roethlisberger finished with a passer rating of 127.8 that was the second-highest number he's posted since his return. He threw zero interceptions for just the second time and matched his season-high total for TD passes with three. He even rushed for a career-high 55 yards on 3 scrambles in leading the Steelers to their most-lopsided and perhaps their most significant victory of the season.

The satisfaction with his performance was evident as Roethlisberger jogged off the field.

"A little better, huh?" he offered.

A lot better, actually, on all fronts.


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