In his first bit of action—including the preseason—since tearing three tendons in the elbow of his throwing arm, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 21 of 32 passes for 229 yards, throwing three touchdowns passes and zero interceptions. It was his first game with at least three interceptions and zero interceptions since—well, four games ago for him in the penultimate game of the 2018 season.
Most impressive was his improvement over the course of the game. His accuracy was much improved in the second half, especially with the offensive line settling down. He only attempted 11 passes but completed nine of them for 84 yards with one touchdown.
Including the final drive of the first half, he completed 14 of 18 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns. In the first 28 or so minutes of the game, he was 7-for-14 for 78 yards with one touchdown pass. There were some drops involved in that as well.
All around, it was a very encouraging performance about what the future holds with Roethlisberger still under center and showing that he is capable of quarterbacking at a high level. After the game, he told reporters that he said to his teammates that they were the reason that he worked so hard to make it back to play.
At 38, with two Super Bowl rings and a Hall of Fame resume, this wasn’t something he had to do. There is nothing left that he has to prove. But he wanted to come back to see what this group can accomplish if it’s a full strength with Roethlisberger all-in.
Asked if he was relieved about his performance, he said, “I’m excited we won the game. I told the guys before the game, it’s not about me, individually. The reason I came back is for these guys, for this team. It’s a special group of football players, and men. I’m just thankful to be a part of it”.
I for one am grateful that he decided to put in all the work that it took to get him to where he is right now, but from a physical and performance standpoint, and I expect that his playing will continue to get tighter and sharper as the weeks wear on.
The biggest news, of course, was the fact that he said that he felt really good after the game as far as his elbow was concerned. I have no doubt that it felt better immediately following a game than it has in a number of years, as he has previously said that pain was essentially a constant presence for him.
Look around at this team and how much talent it has, how much potential. Now remove Roethlisberger from the equation. I think that’s why Roethlisberger wanted to come back more than anything. He didn’t have to be left wondering what this group could have been. Instead, we’ll get to actually find out.