This was one of those performances where you look at the box score and aren’t blown away by Big Ben’s stats. He completed only 59.6% of his passes, but he didn’t turn the ball over and made very smart decisions based of game-sensitive circumstances.
Where Ben was the most valuable to the team was his command of the offense on third downs. The Steelers converted 10-out-of-16 third downs, a massive efficiency that helped drive the Steelers’ time of possession, keeping drives alive and the Steelers’ defense fresh.
One of the most vet-savvy plays Ben made was actually a negative play. With under two minutes to go and nursing a seven point lead, the Steelers lined up for a 3rd-and-long while Baltimore had no timeouts remaining. The Steelers tried to throw for a first down to put the game away, but Baltimore played wit well. Ben ate it and took a sack, ensuring the clock would tick down at least another 40 seconds. Little things like this is why he is so valuable to the team.
In case you were wondering how valuable he is, Ben scrambled earlier in the 4th quarter and ran for a long gain, but got tackled hard and laid on the ground for a long time. Imagine this team without Ben. All Super Bowl hopes disappear rapidly. It turns out Ben just had the wind knocked out of him, but had to sit out one play. And that actually sets up our next stand-out player.