How Ben's 9-year-old son helped devise the Steelers' game-winning TD against the Ravens

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At the time, it was the most critical touchdown pass of the Steelers’ season. Facing a one-point deficit against the Ravens with time winding down, Ben Roethlisberger was leading Pittsburgh on a drive that would determine the rest of its season. A win would keep the Steelers very much alive in the AFC playoff race, whereas a loss would place them further back in the back.

The Steelers found themselves on Baltimore’s 5-yard line with less than two minutes remaining, when Roethlisberger dropped back to pass on 3rd down. Diontae Johnson broke open on the left side, and Roethlisberger fired him the ball to him for an easy score. The Steelers finally took the lead.

Good thing Roethlisberger’s nine-year-old son highlighted the play during practice.

ESPN’s Seth Wickersham came out with an extensive feature piece Friday about Roethlisberger, with the focus on his complicated legacy as the Steelers prepare to face the Chiefs Sunday night in a highly anticipated Wild Card Round matchup. In it, Wickersham contains several anecdotes about Roethlisberger’s personal evolution, including his focus on family.

As the season wound down, Roethlisberger asked Steelers coaches if his kids could attend more practices and meetings. On Dec. 4, one day before the Ravens game, Roethlisberger’s son, Benjamin Jr., was watching film with his dad and quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan.

Benjamin Jr. spotted a play where Johnson was open on a route that started inside and broke out. “‘Dad,'" he said. ‘Diontae's open!,’” Wickersham writes.

Roethlisberger threw the ball to another wideout, telling Benjamin Jr. he was trying to spread the ball around. But when they called the play the next day, Roethlisberger took his son’s advice.

He found Johnson, who once again, was wide open.

“The next day, Roethlisberger joked to Sullivan, ‘Can we bring Benjamin to all the meetings?,’” Wickersham writes.

The profile includes several other fun stories, including how his wife, Ashley Roethlisberger, and longtime friend and former coordinator Randy Fichtner filled Ben’s man cave with chalkboard X-and-O sketches of the most vital plays of his career. It’s a humanizing portrait of Roethlisberger, who may very well be playing his final game Sunday.

Junior Big Ben might be the reason his dad’s career is still going, and will end on the playoff stage.