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Steelers ‘Going to Go’ for Big Plays Despite Ben Roethlisberger’s Interception

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The Pittsburgh Steelers have become well-known as a team that isn’t afraid of failure. Head coach Mike Tomlin has notoriously referred to it as not wanting to live in their fears.

They take that mantra with them wherever they go, including to the fourth quarter of Sunday’s matchup with the previously unbeaten Tennessee Titans.

The Steelers were leading by a field goal and were driving deep into Tennessee territory when they were faced with a 3rd and 12 at the Titans’ 19-yard line.

Ben Roethlisberger surveyed the scene and saw that he had JuJu Smith-Schuster working down the seam against a Titans linebacker. He threw for the end zone, eschewing multiple shorter options that might have been more open.

The ball hit Smith-Schuster’s hands, was batted up by the defender and intercepted, giving the Titans new life and making Pittsburgh sweat out the final seconds before Stephen Gostkowski’s missed field goal ended their comeback hopes.

The Steelers didn’t need the touchdown, already ahead by three points. With only 2:40 on the clock, a first down would have nearly ended the game all by itself. But Roethlisberger went for the kill shot on a mismatch.

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“I’ll take JuJu down the middle on a linebacker,” Roethlisberger said after the game. 
“I’ve just got to get it about six inches higher on his back shoulder. You don’t expect the ball to get tipped up in the air and intercepted. You hope it falls incomplete, but they intercepted it.”

While Roethlisberger was taking the blame for putting the ball in a place where the defender could get a hand on it, Smith-Schuster lamented not being able to come down with the ball.

“I was glad Ben threw it,” he said. “Obviously, Ben trusted me enough to throw the ball there. … That’s a play I have to make.”

But despite Roethlisberger’s slight impression and Smith-Schuster being unable to secure the ball, you can expect the Steelers to continue to chase that type of play.

“It’s NFL football,” head coach Mike Tomlin said. “We’re playing to win. We don’t live in our fears. Is it a combat play? Is it tight? Yes. But we’ve got a quarterback that’s been doing that for 17 years. Sometimes, you’ve got to acknowledge that they made the play in the moment. We desire to and that’s why we’re not going to live in our fears. We’re going to go in those instances.”

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