Roethlisberger returns from suspension

By Justin Cohen

Contributing Writer

Before this wild 2010 NFL season began, most people looked at the Steelers with disinterest as their starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, would be on the bench for six games due to a sexual assault case at a Georgia nightclub. The Steelers would have a six game period, including their bye, where they could go under .500 without their star quarterback. Most people were already awarding the division to the Ravens, who looked like a much better team on the offensive side of the ball while maintaining their usual defensive stinginess. This year did not look like it was going to be a good year for a city with six Super Bowl titles, and, if they were going to save themselves, they would need to rely on their defense more than ever to even keep them in the divisional race.

Fast-forward five weeks and the Steelers are 3-1, coming out of their bye in solid contention in their division. Oh, and Ben Roethlisberger is coming back. With the help of backup quarterbacks Dennis Dixon, Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch, the Steelers won their first three games of the season and lost the fourth in an extremely close game against the Ravens. The Steelers have never looked better on defense with their hard hitting linebackers and Troy Polamalu making spectacular plays. Rashard Mendenhall is also averaging 102.8 yards per game, which is second only to Houston’s Arian Foster.

Although their defense and rushing attack have been outstanding, the true star has been Roethlisberger, who hasn’t even played a down in 2010, as he managed not be a distraction for the team while he was suspended. His suspension could have hung a cloud over the Steelers and undermined their quest for a successful season, but now they are poised to take the NFL with full force, and, with three divisional games in the last five weeks of the year, they will rely on Big Ben to lead them to a possible postseason berth and maybe to even greater heights. During his first couple practices with the team, Mike Wallace could not remember Ben throwing a bad pass. The Steelers realized from the moment he took his first practice snap that “Ben was back.”

Roethlisberger has handled his suspension with class as he constantly worked out on his own over the first four weeks of the season. Commissioner Roger Goodell reduced the suspension to four games after Roethlisberger showed good behavior and remorse over his actions in Georgia. Roethlisberger returns to the lineup on Sunday when the Steelers face the Cleveland Browns. It will be exciting to see how Roethlisberger fares in his first game of an already wild 2010 season. Ben’s return to the league shows Goodell’s crackdown on the personal conduct policy has been working and that it has taught the players who make foolish choices to be truly sorry and not to make them again in the future. Roethlisberger will make an immediate impact on and off the field.

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