Faneca: It’s not just his passing that makes Big Ben so special


Talk of Fame Network

Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger knows how to win, and he just offered another demonstration Sunday with a last-second, come-from-behind defeat of Baltimore.

But he offered another in the 2005 playoffs when Pittsburgh went on to win its first Super Bowl since Terry Bradshaw was its quarterback – and Roethlisberger didn’t do it with his passing or running. Nope, he did it with his tackling.

Honest.

faneca2-jpegIn fact, if you talk to former teammate Alan Faneca … and we did … he’ll tell you it was Roethlisberger’s game-saving tackle of the Colts’ Nick Harper with 1:09 left in a pulsating 21-18 defeat of Indianapolis that he remembers most that season.

And he’s not alone.

Roethlisberger chased down Harper after he scooped up a Jerome Bettis fumble at the Indianapolis goal line and ran it in the other direction … seemingly to an improbable game-winning touchdown. Except he didn’t get there … and he didn’t because Roethlisberger, who was the only Steeler between Harper and the end zone, made a one-armed tackle at the Indianapolis 43.

“Man, he saved the day, didn’t he?” Faneca said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “That’s the one that saved us there. That was just an amazing play by him. A lot of luck. There’s definitely a ton of luck in getting that one-hand tackle there to save the day. That is the one thing that sticks out the most from Ben that amazing year … is that amazing play that saved everything.”

faneca-jpegFaneca was a starting guard on that Steelers’ team, and he was a good one. In fact, he was so good that he was a nine-time Pro Bowler and eight-time All-Pro. Now retired, he was a finalist for the Hall-of-Fame’s Class of 2016 and is one of 26 semifinalists for the Hall’s Class of 2017.

Faneca not only is a favorite to make it again as one of the final 15 but should make it into the Hall sooner rather than later.

“I don’t think about it much,” he said. “People always like to bring it up. It’s hard not to think about it because it’s such an amazing feat and accomplishment. Any time you’re in the conversation it makes me awestruck.

“It’s hard to think you’re even considered in that class of guys — your heroes, the guys you grew up watching play and idolized. And here you are, being mentioned with those guys.”

Roethlisberger one day will be among the finalists for the Hall and, barring an upset, should join Faneca in Canton. He’s been to three Super Bowls, won two and clinched one of the most memorable playoff upsets with a tackle Faneca can never forget … and not just because we asked him to recall it.

“We got a little penetration on the play,” he said. “I wasn’t able to get around and pick up my linebacker because of the penetration. It was my linebacker that was able to get his hand on the ball and get it out of Jerome’s hands.

“We’re on goal line, man, and, instantly, it’s just a bunch of fat, slow guys on the field. Ben and Jerome are the two fastest guys on the field, and Jerome is all tied up in the pile, and Ben’s back there backpedaling. So you just run, right? You don’t know what’s going to happen until the whistle’s blown. You just start running and, hopefully, something happens, and you get a chance to do something.”

Fortunately for the Steelers, something did happen, and Roethlisberger got his chance.

(Alan Faneca photos courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers)
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