All things considered, the Pittsburgh Steelers have done a hell of a job this season, given that they have posted an 8-4 record since Ben Roethlisberger went down. They had high aspirations for this season coming in with fresh talent and a new mentality, Roethlisberger coming off of a 5000-yard, 34-touchdown season.
And he made it through a game and a half, both losses, without getting into the end zone. Yet the Steelers are still in position to make the playoffs without him. That fact itself is pretty stunning. But make no mistake about it, this team would be way better with him on the field, especially after watching two different quarterbacks toss four interceptions in a game.
While he suffered an elbow injury that required surgery, Roethlisberger has remained a presence at almost every game, except for the first travel game out west after he had surgery. And he has been consistently a voice in the ears of Devlin Hodges and Mason Rudolph. He’s remained engaged on the sidelines, as we’ve seen on a weekly basis.
And we have also seen his beard expanding on a weekly basis. Now we know why—or at least the reason behind it. His beard is growing because he’s not shaving. But it was reported last night during the broadcast that he has said he will not shave until he is able to resume throwing.
Coming off an elbow injury, he is still not expected to be able to throw the ball for another few months at the least, so one can only imagine how thick that beard is going to grow in. I just hope that his wife is a fan of facial hair—and that he keeps it clean.
Almost everybody wrote off this season as soon as it was learned that Roethlisberger’s elbow injury would cost him the entire season. The Steelers, from the front office down to the locker room, never took that approach, and all of their actions, words, and deeds since then have spoken to that, including from the man himself.
Nevertheless, especially after nights in which the young guns are struggling, it’s hard not to look ahead to getting him back on the field next season, with a healthy JuJu Smith-Schuster and a pair of young guys in James Washington and Diontae Johnson who gained a lot of experience and showed growth over the course of this season.
Considering they have been able to make a playoff push without him, there’s no reason to think the Steelers shouldn’t be one of the top contenders in football next year. The Baltimore Ravens will inevitably be the frontrunners for the AFC North, but their divisional opponents are about the only ones to have played them tough since Week Three.