The last time Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was in action, the Steelers’ offense mustered just 10 points total against a stout Kansas City Chiefs defense, resulting in a 36-10 blowout loss in Week 16 at Arrowhead Stadium.
While the performance was not entirely the fault of the veteran quarterback, who appears to be leaning towards retiring after the season, Roethlisberger wasn’t good enough on a day in which he needed to make some plays — any plays — for the Steelers’ offense to have a shot.
A poor interception on the second possession of the game seemingly doomed the Steelers and Roethlisberger from the onset, as the veteran signal caller finished with his third-lowest QB Rating of the season at 73.4, threw for just 159 yards, and had his lowest yards gained per pass attempt number of the season (4.54) and lowest adjusted average yards gained per pass attempt of the season (3.83).
It was a slog out there for Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense, which once again looked exactly like it has all season: Throw very short, hope to run long (spoiler: They don’t run long). Roethlisberger’s rough performance against the Chiefs on the road caught the attention of NFL.com analyst Gregg Rosenthal in a negative way, as the longtime NFL scribe dropped Roethlisberger one spot in the weekly QB Index ahead of the Week 17 matchups.
After sitting at No. 21 one week ago, Roethlisberger fell to No. 22 overall in Rosenthal’s QB Index, one spot behind Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield, whom the Steelers will face off against in Week 17 at Heinz Field.
“Every Steelers reception is either a tightly contested 4-yard grab, a checkdown to Najee Harris or a fantastic play by Diontae Johnson or Chase Claypool,” Rosenthal writes. “This is not a repeatable formula. Roethlisberger is starting to predetermine throws, like on his flea-flicker interception in Kansas City. The only question left is whether he’ll get to enjoy one last win.”
On Thursday, Roethlisberger hinted at his retirement during his weekly media availability, stating that Monday’s home finale against the Cleveland Browns could be the last time he plays in front of home fans in his remarkable 18-year career.
That said, Rosenthal is spot-on in his assessment of Roethlisberger at the moment. Is it entirely his fault? Absolutely not, but the offense is what it is, and there’s no improving it anytime soon. The offensive line can’t protect long enough, Roethlisberger can’t extend plays, and with no run game to really speak of, pass rushes are able to tee off.
Here’s hoping Roethlisberger has one last vintage performance left on Monday night in front of a national audience to remind viewers of just how special he once was.