In case you missed it, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger celebrated his 34th birthday on Wednesday and while I wasn’t going to write it about initially, I felt I had to after seeing the official NFL transaction release late this evening. In short, Roethlisberger received a very different kind of birthday present.
While we’ve known for a few weeks now that veteran Detroit Lions cornerback Rashean Mathis is retiring after 13 seasons in the league, it was finally made official on Wednesday as he was placed on the Reserve/Retired list.
So why is that somewhat of a birthday gift to Roethlisberger in my eyes? Probably because he’s been kryptonite for the Steelers quarterback for most of his career.
Including the playoffs, Mathis intercepted Roethlisberger 5 times in the 7 games that he faced him and three of those he returned for touchdowns on top of it. Two of those interceptions, of which one Mathis returned one for a touchdown, came in the Steelers playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the 2007 season. The Steelers of course lost that game 31-29 even though Roethlisberger threw for 337 yards and two touchdowns.
In total and including the playoffs, Mathis recorded 34 total interceptions during his career with 6 of them coming in games against the Steelers.
Strangely enough, while Mathis certainly seemed to be Roethlisberger’s main kryptonite over the course of all these years, there is still at least one player in the league that has intercepted the Steelers quarterback more than he did. That player is Cincinnati Bengals safety Reggie Nelson, who has picked off Roethlisberger a total of six times now with three of those coming just last season.
Nelson will officially become an unrestricted free agent next week and it would be a great belated birthday present for Roethlisberger should he wind up signing with a team outside of the AFC North in addition to one that won’t play the Steelers until he retires.