During the course of the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers have had to endure four games, and five starts, without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, during which the offense struggled to move the ball for the most part.
Starting last week, however, the team has seen a reversal of fortunes as Roethlisberger seemed to be hitting his stride, while the defense has run into a string of backup quarterbacks that figures to continue for the rest of the season.
It started last Sunday at home when the Steelers hosted the visiting Colts. Indianapolis was playing its fifth game of the season without Andrew Luck, who then was out with a ruptured spleen, and remains out. In his place was Matt Hasselbeck, who had won his first four starts, but he mustered just 10 points against Pittsburgh.
On Sunday, the Bengals had Andy Dalton to start the game, but he fractured his thumb at the end of the opening drive after he threw a red zone interception trying to tackle the defender. The rest of the game was played by AJ McCarron, a second-year former fifth-round pick getting his first extended playing time.
Next week, the Steelers are likely to see Brock Osweiler, who has started the last four games since replacing Peyton Manning five games ago. In that time, he has thrown for 1140 yards on 170 attempts with five touchdowns and three interceptions, fumbling once and taking 17 sacks.
Osweiler is in his fourth season as a former second-round draft pick, but had not received significant playing time before this past month or so. Through the first three years of his career, he had thrown just 30 passes, completing 17 for 159 yards with one touchdown, taking two sacks. He has a career passer rating of 85.
The Broncos managed to win his first three starts, but they have not been scoring. They have scored just 87 points in his five games, averaging 17.4 points per game, and that includes a punt return and interception return in those numbers.
After Denver, the Steelers finish up against two wounded division rivals on the road, first taking on the listless Ravens, who have just been officially eliminated from postseason contention. With Joe Flacco already on injured reserve, they have turned to Matt Schaub, and Schaub is currently battling concussion, missing Sunday’s game, which was quarterbacked by Jimmy Clausen.
Pittsburgh closes things out against Johnny Manziel, who is the Browns’ starter after putting Josh McCown on injured reserve. Manziel started the last game against the Steelers in a 30-9 loss, but was benched for off the field indiscretions and dishonesty in favor of Austin Davis.
Davis started only one game before being benched again in favor of Manziel, as the Browns realized that they have to see what they have in him at this point. He has started four games thus far this season, completing 97 of 159 pass attempts for 1203 yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions, winning two games, including the Browns’ last one.