Nine games through the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has now thrown at least two touchdown passes in all but one game, and has at least one touchdown pass in every game. He came into Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals with 18 touchdown passes, on pace for 36 on the season, which would be a franchise record—which he owns, at 34, set in 2018.
Of course, he wasn’t done after throwing just two touchdown passes in the first half, one to Diontae Johnson and another to JuJu Smith-Schuster. He fired off two more to Chase Claypool in the second half, the rookie now with seven receiving touchdowns on the season and nine total offensive touchdowns.
That also gives Roethlisberger 22 touchdown passes on the season. It is tied for the most touchdowns that he has ever had in his career through nine games, and just the fifth time that he has thrown at least 20 touchdown passes through the first nine games. He previously threw 22 touchdown passes twice before, in 2007 and 2014. He threw 12 touchdowns in a two-game span in 2014.
Although he got off to a slow start, completing just three of his first seven passes, it ended up being a statistically successful first half overall. By halftime, he completed 17 of 27 pass attempts for 243 yards and two touchdowns. Coming into the game, he had been averaging 241 passing yards per game on the season.
He ultimately finished the game completing 27 of 46 pass attempts for a season-high 333 yards, with of course the four touchdown passes, but equally important, zero interceptions. It is the third consecutive game in which he has not thrown an interception, and the sixth in seven games. He has been free of interceptions in seven of the nine games played—though of course he has had some close calls, and Jessie Bates III nearly had himself one yesterday.
But he didn’t, and at the end off the day, Roethlisberger has a 22-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio with seven games to play. With 334 passes attempted in 2020, he now has an interception rate of 1.2 percent, which is the lowest that he has ever had in his entire career, and his 6.6 touchdown percentage is the second-highest of his career.
Put simply, we have never seen him have a ratio like this before in his career. Right now, he is on pace to throw for 39 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He has only thrown fewer than eight interceptions three times, and he played 12 or fewer games in each of those three years.
Can he keep this up all year? This Steelers team does not need him to drive up and down the field and put up tons of yardage. They just need him to capitalize on their chance and minimize their mistakes. That’s why they’re 9-0. He is giving them exactly what they need this year.