We still won’t have snap counts for a bit, but we do know this: in a game in which he attempted 46 passes, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger not only managed to target seven different players, but he also connected on at least two passes with all seven of those.
That included three players whom he targeted at least 10 times, each of whom caught at least four passes for 50-plus yards and at least one score, the primary contributors to his 26-of-46, 333-yard, four-touchdown evening, his best game of the season to date—and perhaps warming up at the right time.
Two of those completions on this day did go to third-year wide receiver James Washington, who made those grabs on his two lone targets on the day. He made the most of them for 30 yards, both of them positive plays on the offense, the first helping to set up their first touchdown.
“I enjoy the group of guys” that the Steelers have at the skill groups this year, Roethlisberger said after the game. “We rotate guys in. There was a time today where I was yelling to the sideline to get James [Washington] in the game”.
Washington’s reps had fallen precipitously over the past three weeks as the team focused more of its offense into an 01 personnel group that features Ray-Ray McCloud inside as the second slot receiver, with Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool playing outside.
“Let’s get guys in. I trust every single on those guys to make a play when I call their number”, Roethlisberger said, “and I think they trust me to get them the ball. It’s really fun, because a lot of times people talk about there’s not enough football to go around. I don’t sense that at all from any of them. I’m not trying to force anybody the ball. I’m trying to get guys the ball that’ll make plays, and that’s right now kind of everybody”.
While the Steelers do not have the most prolific passing game in the NFL in terms of yardage totals, they may have one of the most evenly distributed. They now have five different players who have caught at least 20 passes for over 200 yards and have scored at least three touchdowns, and are nearly on track to have five different players finish the season with 500-plus receiving yards.
Both Claypool and JuJu Smith-Schuster went over 500 yards in today’s game, and Johnson is now within striking distance to do so as well. Tight end Eric Ebron now has 323 yards through nine games, while Washington now has 232, though given his playing time lately, he’ll have to make some headway. He has to average over 38 yards per game to reach 500.