If there is one thing that the 2019 season has shown for the Pittsburgh Steelers and their fans, it is, or at least should be, just how important it is not to take for granted the level of quarterback play they have been blessed with from Ben Roethlisberger over the course of the past 16 years.
Limited to just six quarters of action last year, Roethlisberger was limited with an elbow injury that would ultimately prove to be season-ending. The Steelers had to go the rest of the season with an eventual platoon consisting of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges, who players who had no prior NFL experience heading into the year.
Rudolph, the second-year former draft pick, completed 176 of 283 pass attempts on the season for 1765 yards, with 13 touchdown passes to nine interceptions, posting a quarterback rating of 82. Hodges completed 100 of 160 pass attempts for 1063 yards with just five touchdowns to eight interceptions. He also lost a fumble. The two combined for an 8-6 record, Rudolph going 5-3 and Hodges 3-3.
“You don’t really appreciate something until it’s gone and he’s not there every single day throwing touchdown passes”, veteran center Maurkice Pouncey, who has worked with Roethlisberger for the past decade, told Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m not taking anything away from the other quarterbacks. It’s just that Ben was that comfort blanket for all of us. He always seemed to make things right”.
“Just having him gone you have a whole new appreciation of what someone like that brings to the game”, he added. “When you’re around that type of special player, you have to cherish him and enjoy every moment and realize this is why things have been so good”.
Roethlisberger has posted a record of 144-71-1 over the course of his 16 seasons in the NFL since being selected with the 11th-overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. He has taken the Steelers to three Super Bowls, winning two, as well as five AFC title games. He has thrown for over 56,000 yards with 363 touchdown passes to 191 interceptions with a career quarterback rating of 94.
“We’ve ridden a really good helicopter for a long, long time”, fellow veteran offensive lineman Ramon Foster said. “Now we all see the significance of that position”. He added. “people that complain about our guy, whenever he’s in, stop”.