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Dispelling the Myth: Ben Roethlisberger’s injury history

When it comes to Big Ben’s durability, sometimes fans are quick to forget

Pittsburgh Steelers v St. Louis Rams Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

A little over a month ago, I published in article about 3 things numerous Steelers’s fans believe but aren’t necessarily true. The general idea was looking at some narratives which seem to be widely accepted but don’t hold a lot of truth. Of course, as life continues on, more of these ideas come up.

One particular incident recently was during a discussion of Ben Roethlisberger returning from elbow surgery. With Ben missing 14 games in 2019, along with the fact he no longer has youth on his side, many feel Roethlisberger missing time is an inevitability. Even the national media speaks about other quarterbacks needing to lead the Steelers into the playoffs which I’ve also addressed in the past. But during this recent discussion, there was one particular question which was asked in order for someone to make their point where I don’t think they realize the actual answer. What was this question?

“When was the last time Ben Roethlisberger played all 16 games in a season?”

It was a serious question designed to prove a point that Ben Roethlisberger isn’t a durable player even before his season-ending injury of 2019. Many fans may ask this question themselves. But the answer, which is quite simple to fans following the team, it’s very shocking to many.


Yes, Ben Roethlisberger played and started in every game the season prior to him landing on the Reserve/Injured List for the first time in his career.

Now some people may be quick to point out that Ben did miss time in 2018. He missed one snap against the Baltimore Ravens with an injury described by head coach Mike Tomlin as simply having “the wind knocked out of him.” Roethlisberger also missed part of the Steelers’ Week 13 game against the Oakland Raiders with a rib injury. Unfortunately, the biggest reason he missed a portion of that game was due to unreliable medical equipment available at the stadium. Roethlisberger was able to return to the game, but his absence was already felt to a point where the Steelers fell in defeat.

Interestingly enough, not only did Roethlisberger play 16 games in 2018, he started 15 games in 2017. The only game in which Ben did not appear was a meaningless Week 17 game against the Cleveland Browns where he rested before the playoffs.

Just a quick recap so far— that’s two seasons and zero games missed due to injury.

The previous season Roethlisberger played in 14 games. Once again, he did not play in a meaningless Week 17 game against the Cleveland Browns so the game was not missed due to injury. The other game missed came in Week 7 against the New England Patriots. In the Week 6 loss to the Miami Dolphins, Roethlisberger only missed 5 snaps. Following the game, he had surgery on his meniscus and was expected to miss four to six weeks. After missing the Week 7 game and the Steelers having a bye in Week 8, Roethlisberger returned for the Week 9 game against the Ravens.

So in the three seasons leading up to 2019, Roethlisberger played in all but three games, and only one was missed due to injury,

To find a season where Roethlisberger missed significant time before 2019 would be in 2015 when he missed four games and five starts. After a Week 3 knee injury against the St Louis Rams, Ben missed the next four games. Two weeks after he returned, Ben left the game against the Raiders with a foot injury. The next week, Landry Jones got the start against the Cleveland Browns only to leave due to injury as Roethlisberger came off the bench to lead the Steelers to victory.

Interestingly enough, the two seasons prior to the 2015 year when Rothlisberger missed four games, he started every game of the season.

So looking at Ben Roethlisberger’s recent injury history before the 2019 season is not the issue many believe. In the six seasons leading up to last year, Roethlisberger only missed games due to injury and two different years. Of those two seasons, one consisted of only one missed game missed while of the other had four contests in which Rothlisberger did not participate.

Of course this history does not mean Ben Roethlisberger will play every snap of 2020. Based on his age and coming off of major surgery, it’s hard to know what to expect out of Roethlisberger. But the narrative that Ben misses games every year due to injury, especially in recent seasons, is just not the case.