PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- Ben Roethlisberger has had plenty of practice when it comes to leading game-winning drives. Entering Monday night's game against the Chicago Bears, the Steelers' 18-year veteran had mounted 49 game-winning drives. He had already tallied an NFL-best three game-winning streaks before he took the field with the Steelers down by a point with 1:46 left.
As he had dozens of times before, Roethlisberger moved the Steelers into field goal range before Chris Boswell drilled the game-winning, 40-yard field goal. Not including his spiked ball, Roethlisberger went 4 of 4 on the drive that included a 22-yard strike to Diontae Johnson and a 13-yard completion to Pat Freiermuth that firmly got the Steelers in Boswell's range. The drive was a response to a gallant comeback attempt by the Bears and rookie quarterback Justin Fields, who gave his team their first lead on a 16-yard touchdown pass to Darnell Mooney. It was the 50th game-winning drive of Roethlisberger's career, tying him with Tom Brady for fourth on the all-time list.
"On the sideline, I felt like they gave me too much time," Roethlisberger said. "I felt that we can go down [and score]. We've got, in my opinion, one of the best kickers in the league. Wasn't thinking about a touchdown, was just thinking about getting us down in field goal range. It felt like everyone contributed on that drive."
Monday's game-winning drive was another notch on the belt of Roethlisberger, who 13 years ago authored one of the greatest game-winning drives in Super Bowl history. But the drive was anything but routine for his four rookie teammates on the offensive side of the ball. Freiermuth, who caught touchdowns prior to that last drive, alluded to Roethlisberger when explaining his mindset at that point in the game.
"I wasn't nervous at all. Ben's been doing this for a long time," Freiermuth said. "We were all confident in each other. I was thinking in my mind that when they scored, there was too much time. It was awesome."
Veteran cornerback Joe Haden was the vicim of several Roethlisberger comebacks during his seven seasons in Cleveland. But the last four-plus years of his career, Haden has been the beneficiary of several vintage Roethlisberger game-winning drives.
"We have a Hall of Fame quarterback," Haden said. "I'm just hoping that they march it down the field. We work on two-minute situations all the time and in practice he gets it down the field on us, so I was just expecting him to do the same."
Roethlisberger went out of his way to credit the Steelers' skill position players for their collective team-first attitude. While Monday night was not a breakout night for anyone sans Freiermuth, Pittsburgh received a handful of critical plays from their skill players. James Washington's 42-yard catch on Pittsburgh's second drive of the second half helped set up Freiermuth's second score that made it a 20-6 game. Najee Harris gained 78 hard-earned yards that included the game's first touchdown. Harris' score was set up by Chase Claypool's 26-yard grab on a third-and-seven play from Pittsburgh's 47-yard-line. Washington, Claypool and Johnson were a vital part of the Steelers' running game, as the trio combined to run for 37 yards on six carries.
"I know it can be frustrating for the receivers sometimes, because the stats aren't there for everybody," Roethlisberger said. "But when you need a play, guys step and make plays and they did that tonight."
While acknowledging that the offense's second half struggles contributed to Chicago's comeback, Roethlisberger was more focused on the end result. After a 1-3 start, the Steelers are 5-3 and just one game back of the Ravens in the AFC North division standings.
"I think if you've done this long enough, you know that very few leads are safe," Roethlisberger said. "Games are never over, no matter how well you're playing or how bad you're playing. I think tonight was one of those nights that hopefully we all can appreciate to know that you've go to play 60 minutes and sometimes more. You can't let up."
When asked about his team's resilience after the game, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin noted that, unlike in recent weeks, it was his offense that rose up and made the key plays with the game in the balance.
"I think we've displayed [resilience] throughout," Tomlin said. "We made plays at the end of the game versus Denver. We made plays at the end of the game versus Seattle. I thought the significant thing, in this one, was the offense had an opportunity to do it. That's the awesome thing about team sports, and football in particular. You're going to face enough adversity that everybody's going to have an opportunity to ante up and kick in. That's a good lesson to be learned throughout this. Hopefully, we grow and grow in the right ways and so can [continue to] deliver like that."