Fourth-Quarter Comeback A Sign Of Things To Come?

By Matthew Marczi

If you really think about it, there isn’t all that much that separates this season from many other years in Ben Roethlisberger’s career. The majority of the games end in close scores with the victor decided in the fourth quarter.

Sure, the scores may on average be higher, partly due to the defense slipping with the injection of some inexperience in favor of aging veterans, but on the whole, even this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have often been in the games they’ve lost.

One of the big differences has been the seeming disappearance of Ben Roethlisberger’s late-game heroics.

That is part of what made this victory over the Detroit Lions as exhilarating as it was, for the hope that it represented something more: the idea that Roethlisberger, now in a rhythm, has rediscovered that magic.

There really is no way to determine the validity of such an observation other than to wait for it to play out, but this fourth-quarter comeback was extra satisfying given how some of the other games this season finished.

Even dating back to last season, after he recovered from his injuries, he essentially sealed losses against the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Bengals with worrying late-game interceptions.

Against the Chicago Bears, Roethlisberger pulled the Steelers to within four before the defense gave up a touchdown. The Steelers’ last three drives ended with a Roethlisberger fumble that was returned for a touchdown, a turnover on downs, and an interception.

The following week, Roethlisberger had a chance to tie the game in London against the Minnesota Vikings until he took a sack on third and goal and fumbled the ball, recovered by the Vikings.

Even against the New England Patriots, Roethlisberger helped bring the Steelers back from a large deficit to tie the game before the offense and defense both completely stalled in the fourth quarter.

Over the last few years, Roethlisberger does not have too many fourth-quarter comebacks and overtime victories. Not the way it used to be. The Steelers lived by the late-game magic the last time they won the Super Bowl in 2008.

Is this a sign of Roethlisberger starting to regain some of the form that he lost when he went down with a shoulder injury last season? Over the last three games, he has thrown for 971 yards, nine touchdowns, and three interceptions, averaging 7.9 yards per attempt.

With Will Johnson and Jerricho Cotchery accounting for the last two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the Steelers now know again that they can win close games. But will they?

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • 2443scott

    if coaching staff lets ben play the way he naturaly playes and the steelers def stops following their own game plan and running around field with out careing whats going on with in the field and start staying in the def game plan there will alot more to come ….and that falls on coaching staff so since tomlin sits at the head of the table he needs to make sure his coaches make the players follow game plan ….not run around the field like a chicken with its head cut off


    I do not understand why Will Johnson is not utilized more.

  • Rory

    If he can call his own plays, perhaps.

  • Chad H

    I would look at getting Will 3 to 4 touches a game if possible.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    That being said, I recognize him as our currently best tight end on the roster. Heath Miller just… doesn’t get it done anymore especially Paulson who really shouldn’t be on our roster. Put Matt Spaeth on IR, give Michael Palmer more PT and Will Johnson more reps at tight end.

    To think our true flaws on the offense side truly is the tight end, not offensive tackle. I can’t believe this when I wrote this!

  • Ahmad

    I sure hope it’s a sign of things to come. I noticed Ben called most of the plays and the Steelers put up 37 and if not for bad execution could have put up over 40. If the Steelers want to salvage this season, they better let Ben do his thing.

  • Shea Fahr

    It was nice to see them utilize Will Johnson down there and score. This was a very good win.

  • SteelerFanInMD

    Ben’s late-game heroic’s disappeared when Todd Haley took over as OC. Haley did not tailor the offense to Ben’s strengths the way that Bruce Arians did. When Ben is comfortable with the playbook, he makes big plays. I think Haley sees that now and slowly moved in that direction. As Dave and Dave said on a podcast, Haley’s offense is looking more and more like the Arians offense.

  • Alan Felicia

    Good God, now Will Johnson is their best “Tight End”? You seem to know a good amount of football (from the messages you’ve posted), question, do you really believe Johnson has the ability to run precise routes in the middle of the field and do you have the confidence that Johnson is smart enough to not only find the open or soft zone area but also make tough catches when defenders are draped on him? Cause I don’t. Yes, he catches the ball in the flat or coming off the backfield and runs hard after the catch but a TE Johnson is Not.

  • Eric Crook

    Ben is a 4th quarter comeback general…..but I gotta ask why the hell do they still have McBriar punting, now I didnt see his 70 yard punt, but he has shanked at least 5 punts in 2 games. Can we please call Drew Butler or Jeremy Kapinos please!!!

  • Eric Crook

    does anyone know how many 4th quarter comebacks Ben has in his career? I know it has to be a decent amount, he has to be somewhere in the top of the league in that category.

  • Eric Crook

    I am not sure if any of the other wins this year came in the 4th quarter, but with the win yesterday, I believe that gives him 24 4th quarter come from behind victories, which ties him 11th all time since 1960 with the likes of Eli and Dan Fouts

  • Mike Carroll

    Really nice to see Ben and the Steelers come back in this game. Unfortunately, this feels much more like the kind of comeback win they might have gotten in 2009 (like the win over GB 37-36) rather than the comebacks they generated in their SB year of 2008. This defense just isn’t good and no where close to 2008. Their horrendous performance in the second quarter was another reminder of how poor they can be versus experienced QBs. The analysis done by the guys at Football Outsiders says the same thing. Going into yesterday’s game they ranked the Steelers defense 27th, the offense 16th, and special teams 13th. I think that’s an accurate assessment of this year’s team (despite whatever conventional yardage stats may say).

  • gevins

    The difference I believe is that the Steelers started in the no huddle this game. This gets Ben into a rhythm and I think mentally he is more there when he feels he is calling the plays. I would start every game like this. Maybe every other drive unless it is not working. Give Ben the rains and let him be Ben. I would rather have three good years of Ben instead of 5 or 6 year of holding him back worried he is going to get hurt.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    I went back through Roethlisberger’s entire career game log, and when the Steelers get the ball in the fourth quarter when the game is within 7 either way, the Steelers are terrible under Big Ben. Turnovers, Picks, 3 and outs. At least he did succeed against Arizona in SB. 4th quarter comebacks are over-rated, especially as a whole number…If you put 4th quarter drives as a rate stat, either in pts/meaningful possession or simply successes/fails, Ben would rate way down.

    Ben and the Steelers were 2 for 2 yesterday, with two TD’s which is the only time that has ever occurred in his career.

  • Cwatt

    I don’t know if Johnson can do it for sure, but he did originally play WR so that has to speak for something.

  • Josh

    Maybe not a pure tight end, but who would you prioritize as a mid- to short-range target: Palmer, Paulson or Will Johnson? He would likely help the team with more touches one way or another.

  • charles

    But that is because once again our Oline is in tatters again. This game showed the relevancy of Foster. Whimper held up…barely, but any rushes to the left were blown up because whimper was two yards in the backfield.

  • charles

    Go to chff cold hard football facts

  • Alan Felicia

    Yes, but he played mostly as an H-Back. To me, Johnson lack size/height (ideal 6’5″) and just don’t think he has good enough hands to be a TE.

  • Alan Felicia

    Haven’t seen enough plays on Palmer but Paulson does have good hands. Problem is his lack of blocking skills and physical toughness. Combine Paulson ideal size and hands to Johnson toughness, you’ll have an ideal TE like Miller. I would pick Paulson b/c I think the more reps, the better he gets. Coaching staff feels his blocking is so bad that he’s move down third in the depth chart.
    Johnson is perfect coming off the backfield.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    I thought Mike Adams is their best TE?

  • Alan Felicia

    Actually, he’s their Biggest TE!!

  • RMSteeler

    Great teams are up by 2 or more touchdowns by start of 4th quarter. Then even a mediocre defense can T up the front line and let the DB/LB’s seal it with INT’s. With this year’s team, the DEF is too inconsistent and the offense can’t seem to move the ball until the last possession before half time. Let Ben play hurry up the first two possessions even if they are scripted drives, and for God’s sake, let him audible more, like the “elite” QB’s do. He’s got the experience to make the change at the line without TH whispering in his ear. I believe he’s got the brains to make those adjustments too. Let the hound off his leash! That dog CAN hunt.

  • Riverstko

    Ben is Special! They would be crazy to trade or release Ben.

  • Riverstko

    My Bad i knocked Will last week! There still is room for the Fullback in the NFL. Good Game Will

  • Eric Crook

    hmm…interesting info