Steelers' Offensive Surge Makes Roethlisberger MVP Candidate
On fourth-and-two with two minutes left in the game and the ball at the Ravens 33 yard-line, the Steelers were up 36-23, but Pittsburgh still went for it. The result: a 33-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to tight end Matt Spaeth, which increased the Steelers' lead to 43-23 and gave Roethlisberger his second consecutive game of six passing touchdowns, creating a new record of 12 touchdown passes in two straight NFL games.
Roethlisberger has catapulted the Steelers back into the status of contenders in the AFC. The Steelers are currently on a three-game winning streak during which they beat all AFC foes. On the current win streak, Roethlisberger has amassed 14 of his 22 passing touchdowns he has thrown this season. Also during that stretch of three games, the Pittsburgh quarterback completed 74 percent of his passes and totaled 1,127 passing yards. Moreover, the Steelers scored 124 points in those three games.
It is astonishing that the current high-scoring Steelers are the same team that was defeated by the Buccaneers and pummeled by the Browns. Through the first six games of the season, the Steelers put together a mediocre 3-3 record. The Steelers offense was the team's biggest disappointment over the first six games of the season. The Steelers defense was expected to be mediocre, not the offense. The talent on offense was there, but the offense could not execute — especially in the redzone.
The turnaround on offense is the catalyst of the team's recent success. What has changed over the past three weeks: receivers besides Antonio Brown are making plays. Rookie Wide receiver Martavis Bryant caught five touchdowns in the first three games of his NFL career. The reemergence of wide out Markus Wheaton has been a good effect. Wheaton caught two touchdowns in the two previous games — one of which went for 47 yards.
Finally, in his 11th season of his career, Roethlisberger has the weapons around him to add an MVP award to his trophy case. He has one of the best wide receivers in the game in Brown, a good No.2 wideout who can run a multitude of routes in Wheaton, Bryant who is 6-4 and makes plays in the redzone, Heath Miller who is a reliable tight end, and Le'Veon Bell who can make plays on the ground and through the air.
The Steelers boast the best offense in the league over the course of the past three weeks. The Steelers are not going to score 40 or 50 points each week. However, offensive failures like the the games against Jacksonville and Cleveland — games in which the offense failed to score 20 points — are unacceptable from now on.
If the Steelers are going to be win the AFC North or clinch a playoff spot, the offense must perform to its peak ability, and Roehtlisberger must continue his MVP-quality. This is not a normal Steelers team; the defense will not hold down the fort if the offense plays poorly. The offense has to perform well every week if the Steelers are going to win football games.
The Steelers have the 1-8 New York Jets next up on the schedule. Roethlisberger and the offense should continue to play remarkably well.