Ben Roethlisberger thinks game-winning touchdown pass from Super Bowl XLIII should be a bigger deal

For the first time since 2004, the Steelers will head to training camp without Ben Roethlisberger. For the first time since 2004, Roethlisberger won’t be focused on getting ready for football season.

But he’s still present, in Pittsburgh. And he’ll possibly have plenty to say about the team with which he spent a generation.

Earlier, we posted about his comments to Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette regarding the perception that former Steelers G.M. Kevin Colbert didn’t want Roethlisberger back for 2021, coach Mike Tomlin was lukewarm, and owner Art Rooney II made it happen. Although Roethlisberger was a shell of himself as a player, it worked. The fans got closure, given that 2020 unfolded without fans at Heinz Field. And the Monday night that marked his final game in Pittsburgh provided a moment for the ages.

The truth nevertheless may be a click away from the way that Roethlisberger characterized it. Some believe that the Steelers offered him a reduced contract in 2021, thinking that he wouldn’t take it. Some in the organization, we’ve heard, were surprised when he did.

It’s no surprise that, when asked by Cook to identify the favorite play of a career that eventually will land in Canton, Roethlisberger went with the game-winning touchdown pass in Super Bowl XLIII. Although the catch helped receiver Santonio Holmes win the MVP award, Roethlisberger’s throw was a thing of beauty.

“That’s what I dreamed of as a kid, to win the game,” Roethlisberger told Cook. “It wasn’t like it was to a wide-open guy. I still don’t think that pass gets enough credit. The catch was spectacular, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think the whole combination gets enough credit.”

Some also think that the failure of Roethlisberger to win the MVP award for that throw in Super Bowl XLIII resonated into Super Bowl XLV, prompting former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians to craft a game plan designed to help Roethlisberger, in his third Super Bowl, win the prize. As the theory goes, the desire to promote Roethlisberger undermined the broader effort to win the game. After the following season, the Steelers nudged Arians into “retirement,” and some believe it happened because he and Roethlisberger had gotten too close.

Still, he’s right. The Super Bowl XLIII pass should be more heralded. The fact that Holmes caught nine passes for 131 of the total 256 yards that Roethlisberger generated likely made the difference in the pass catcher winning the award over the pass thrower.

And who knows? Maybe the fact that Roethlisberger didn’t win the MVP award for Super Bowl XLIII skewed the offensive game planning in Super Bowl XLV, which resulted in 40 passes and 23 runs. In Super Bowl XLIII, the Steelers had 26 runs and 33 throws — and won the game. In Super Bowl XL, the Steelers ran it 33 times and threw 22 passes. They also won the game.