<b>The Morning After --</b> Every week, uncut, honest thoughts first thing Monday morning, win or…
Steelers, Ben fold in AFC title game
"It's tough," Roethlisberger said. "We had a record-breaking, storybook season. Unfortunately, a lot of people will see it as all for nothing."
Roethlisberger, in fact, is one of those people, if we are to judge him by his response to a later question. He was asked if he could consider this a successful season.
"There were times it was successful," he said after his first loss in 16 NFL games. "But the ultimate goal this year for this team was to win a Super Bowl. We didn't do that and so I can't say it was successful."
Even though there was no precipitation, Roethlisberger changed his routine and played without a glove on his passing hand. He explained the ball, with the AFC championship logo, felt fine in his hand, but his first pass of the game was intercepted by free safety Eugene Wilson.
Roethlisberger threw high and behind Antwaan Randle El. The ball was tipped by Asante Samuel and caught by Wilson. The Patriots turned it into a 3-0 lead on their first possession.
Down 10-0, Roethlisberger hit Ward for 19 yards, but overthrew him on third-and-6 from the New England 25 and the Steelers settled for a field goal.
At 17-3, Roethlisberger moved the Steelers to the New England 19 and made his biggest mistake of the game. His pass to tight end Jerame Tuman was intercepted by Rodney Harrison, who returned it 87 yards for a touchdown as Roethlisberger was dumped on his backside by blocker Mike Vrabel.
Harrison slowly jogged the final 20 yards for the score. It was the second 80-plus interception return served up by Roethlisberger in the Steelers' two-game playoff season. Reggie Tongue returned an interception 86 yards for the New York Jets.
"It was extremely frustrating," Roethlisberger said. "I saw Harrison driving on it. I thought I might be able to squeeze it into Jerame and I made a bad decision. When you see him make a play, and he's got a blocker, and I'm the only guy back, you're only hoping that he trips."
Roethlisberger wasn't helped much by his main man, Plaxico Burress. On a bomb on the next series, Burress lost his feet and the pass fell incomplete. On a fade pass in the end zone in the fourth quarter, Burress let the pass bounce off his right hand up above a smaller cornerback.
Roethlisberger did complete a 34-yard screen pass to Randle El to set up a touchdown and he completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Ward. A 26-yarder to Ward set up a 20-yard field goal. Roethlisberger also threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Burress during mop-up time.
For the game, Roethlisberger's stats belied his mistake-prone performance. He completed 14 of 24 passes for 226 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also threw 3 interceptions, giving him 5 in two playoff games.
"It wasn't a great game on my part," Roethlisberger said. "Defense kept us in it for awhile. We scored a couple times, but I just made too many mistakes today."
He was asked if it had to do with New England's defense.
"They're pretty tough," he said. "If a veteran quarterback's in there, and he reads it, maybe he does better. But you saw what they did to (Peyton) Manning."
"Ben did some things well but you just can't throw three interceptions, not in a game of this magnitude," said coach Bill Cowher. "But the kid'll learn. He's going to be a good quarterback. He really will. It's a very tough learning experience and I feel bad for our football team."
SteelCityInsider.net Recommended Stories
College Week 13: 10 Saturday Takeaways
Breaking down all the battles that mattered this weekend.Read More
NFL Week 12: Previews, Scores, and Recaps
It's a wild slate of games this Sunday with several matchups that involve playoff seeding implications and a few divisional showdowns.Read More
OU's Perine rushes into record books
Norman has seen a lot of special days, but few will compare to what Samaje Perine did Saturday in rushing for 427 yards and five touchdowns.Read More
Week 12: Game Time Decisions
Every week, Fantasy Football Expert Rob Warner posts his big-name players to watch as they heal at the last minute before the games begin on Sunday.Read More
Apache Administers Death to Taliban (VIDEO)
The Apache helicopter is one of the most famed and efficient killing machines in the U.S Army. Get the skinny on this 'steel dragon' and watch what one does to a platoon of Taliban fighters in…Read More