Roethlisberger threw for a season-high 316 yards and hit four straight passes to set up Jerome Bettis’ game-winning 1-yard run with 4:57 to go, leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 33-30 win over the New York Giants.
“I am amazed, but he is an awesome quarterback,” receiver Antwaan Randle said after Roethlisberger led the Steelers (13-1) to a team-record 12th straight win and handed the Giants (5-9) a seventh straight loss.
“He might have a long way to go, but he has this great poise,” said Randle El, who caught five passes for 149 yards and a TD and also threw his first career TD. “You can have all the ability in the world but if you don’t have to the poise to do it, it won’t happen.”
Roethlisberger, who has not lost in 25 straight college and pro starts, showed his poise in moving the Steelers from their 33 to the New York 8 after a Tiki Barber 1-yard run had given New York a 30-26 lead.
“He has been making good decisions with games on the line,” coach Bill Cowher said of the 11th pick in the NFL draft. “In the fourth quarter, he has a feel for the game and an understanding of the game and he manages it well.”
Until Saturday, Manning has struggled in losing his first four starts. The No. 1 pick in the draft was horrible in his last two games and seemingly had lost his confidence.
Using a game plan filled with plays he liked, Manning found himself against the NFL’s top-ranked defense. He threw two touchdown passes and set up Barber’s go-ahead touchdown with three completions of 15 yards or more.
“I had fun because we were getting some stuff done,” said Manning, who completed 16 of 23 for 182 yards. “We were making plays, running the ball, the line was protecting, receivers were making catching. We got in a rhythm and it was back to playing football again. It was a good feeling.”
Roethlisberger hit five passes of 34 or more yards in a much-hyped matchup with Manning, who only had one over 20 yards.
The two talked before the game and they congratulated each other after it was over.
“I don’t ever want to remember what it is like to lose,” said Roethlisberger, who also threw two interceptions.
Randle El caught a 35-yard touchdown pass and threw a 10-yard shovel pass to Verron Haynes for a touchdown. Jeff Reed kicked four field goals, Hines Ward had nine catches for 134 yards despite finishing the game with a hip pointer and Bettis ran for 140 yards for the Steelers.
Manning threw touchdown passes of 2 yards to Jeremy Shockey and 1 yard to Marcellus Rivers. He also hit Amani Toomer with two 17-yard passes and he added a 15-yarder to Ike Hilliard to set up Barber’s go-ahead TD run.
Manning was sacked on a 2-point conversion attempt.
Roethlisberger then sandwiched passes of 9 and 11 yards to Ward around a dump off to Bettis before hitting Randle El for 36 yards to the Giants 8. Three straight runs by Bettis got the ball in the end zone.
Willie Williams picked off a deep throw to a tripped Toomer on the next series and the Steelers ran out the clock.
Giants receiver Willie Ponder took the opening kickoff 91 yards for a score. It was the Giants’ first game-opening kickoff return for a touchdown in a regular-season home game in their 80-year history.
The Steelers used trickery to tie the game with Randle El making the shovel pass after taking a lateral from Roethlisberger.
Manning, who had led the Giants to only one touchdown in 45 possessions since replacing Kurt Warner at quarterback, hit Shockey for a TD on the next series.
Manning gave New York a 24-23 lead with his TD pass to Rivers.
Reed put Pittsburgh ahead 26-24 with is 28-yarder early in the fourth quarter.
Steelers RB Duce Staley and WR Plaxico Burress missed the game with hamstring injuries. …Bettis set a Steelers’ record with his 48th 100-yard rushing game, one more than Franco Harris and fifth best in NFL history. … After New York went six games without an interception, Frank Walker and former Steeler Brent Alexander had picks for the Giants. … The last time the Giants returned an opening kickoff for a TD in a regular-season game was Dec. 4, 1966, a 90-yard score by Clarence Childs at Cleveland. It was the Giants’ second kickoff return for TD in three games. Derrick Ward had one vs. Washington. … Toomer has catches in 97 straight games.