No Worries From Steeler Receivers On Roethlisberger’s Return Vs. Chargers

Ben Roethlisberger

Mixed in among the myriad of takeaways and exciting moments from Sunday night’s contest between the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers, won 41-37 by L.A., was the return of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to the Steeler offense, and how Roethlisberger looked coming back to the field.

After self-reporting symptoms and having to miss the prior week’s game against Detroit due to COVID-19, Roethlisberger came back and ended up authoring arguably the best of his nine games this season, completing 28 of 44 passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns. Not every throw was where it needed to be, but Roethlisberger looked his best so far this season in Week 11, in how he ran the team’s offense.

Even playing in likely his final season with the franchise, there was little worry from the rest of the team’s offense who went through practices without Roethlisberger until he could make his return. Speaking following Sunday’s loss in a conference posted by the team, top receiver Diontae Johnson expressed there was no worry involved in bringing his quarterback back in, despite the missed time and minimal window to prepare for Sunday night.

“No, I wasn’t nervous at all. I mean, it’s Ben, he going to do what he do, and it’s our job to go out there and make him look good at the end of the day,” Johnson said. “We did that, like I said, we just came up short, and we just got to move on from it and learn.”

Johnson and Roethlisberger combined to make each other look great on multiple plays, including on a 10-yard touchdown pass with just over a minute left in the first half. In total, the two combined for seven completions, 101 yards, and that score.

Johnson wasn’t the only one benefitting from Roethlisberger’s return. Chase Claypool, himself coming back from an injury, had 93 yards on five catches, while tight ends Pat Freiermuth and Eric Ebron each caught touchdowns as Pittsburgh hit the end zone on three consecutive drives during a late-game comeback.

All this came despite all of those players not getting any reps in with Roethlisberger this week, with Ben not cleared until the weekend to play in Sunday’s game.

“I seen the same thing as if he was at practices the whole week, you know, consistency,” Johnson said. “It just felt good to have him back out there and get the offense back going. Not saying Mason [back-up quarterback Mason Rudolph] wasn’t doing his job or whatnot, but Ben, the offense was just playing well tonight and just came up short.”

That comeback was erased by a late Chargers touchdown with just over two minutes to play that ended up being the game’s winning score. Despite the loss, Roethlisberger still finished with his most passing yards since Week 3 of this season, and his most passing touchdowns since the team’s Wild Card game in last season’s playoffs.

The challenge now moves to building on that performance in a divisional game against the Cincinnati Bengals next Sunday. Following the loss to L.A., the Steelers are the first team out of the playoffs, if the postseason were to start tomorrow.

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