The Pittsburgh Steelers 25-17 win over the New England Patriots was truly a team effort. There were contributions abound, from the usual big-name suspects as well as from young guys trying to uphold the standard. We'll get to the myriad players deserving of recognition in due time early this week, but first a quick word on an impressive individual accomplishment for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
After leading his team to a resounding 25-17 win over the New England Patriots, Ben Roethlisberger now has 75 career wins as a starting quarterback in the National Football League, with an all-time regular season record of 75-31 (.708) half way through his eighth season in the league. Needing only 106 career starts to reach 75 wins, Roethlisberger becomes the fourth fastest to win that many games since the start of the Super Bowl era (1966). Tom Brady (99), Roger Staubach (99) and Ken Stabler (105) are the only quarterbacks to have won 75 games in fewer career starts than Big Ben.
Here were Roethlisberger's numbers on the night: 36-of-50 (72.0 %), 365 yards, 2 TDs 1 INT. The former first round draft pick in 2004now has 1,154 yards, 11 TDs and just 2 INTs during the Steelers four-game winning streak this past month.
It's impossible to overstate what a special competitor and play maker Roethlisberger is for the Steelers. He may be good for one or two unnecessary mistakes most weeks, but hardcore NFL fans should know how hard it is to play an entire 60 minutes of clean football week in and week out.. Even if Big Ben never cleanses himself of the occasional costly mistake, he'll still always be one of the NFL's very best quarterbacks because of what he does successfully -- make all the throws from every imaginable angle, distribute the ball equitably in a way that keeps defenses off balance, play through pain each week, put the past behind him in order to focus on the present, etc.
Roethlisberger's one major mistake against New England was his second quarter interception that set up one of just two Patriots touchdowns. Facing a 3rd and long deep inside his own territory, Big Ben didn't see a linebacker float into the window he was throwing into. He didn't get enough trajectory on the ball, and Gary Guyton jumped to pick off the pass, his first of the season. In addition to that one miscue, Roethlisberger probably could have thrown the ball away or checked down on several instances. His pass protection wasn't stellar, but it was good enough where the Patriots shouldn't have been credited with five sacks on the night.
I suppose that's one of the blessings in disguise from the Steelers win over a Patriots team you know the locker room is ecstatic to have beaten. The bottom line is the score could have, and should have been more lopsided if the offense had not turn the ball over deep inside its own territory and finished off drives more effectively once it breached the Patriots' red zone. As is, Mike Tomlin and the rest of the Steelers coaching staff have plenty to chirp about this week as the team prepares for their Week 9 home tilt against the Baltimore Ravens. The beautiful thing though is that Roethlisberger will likely be the first to tell you that he can and will play better. It's that kind of mindset, combined with insane natural ability of course, that has allowed Big Ben to win so many games in such a short period of time so far in his already decorated career.