Ben Roethlisberger has not exactly conjured up memories of Cal Ripken for his durability, but Pittsburgh’s overly dramatic star quarterback actually does not miss too many starts. In his seventh year as the Steelers’ starting quarterback, Roethlisberger has started 103 of his team’s 117 total games during his career, including all 10 in the postseason.
Of the 14 games Roethlisberger did not start, four came due to an unjust suspension by fascist NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at the start of this season, two were at the beginning of his rookie season in 2004 before he became the starter, another was in the last game of the 2007 regular season when the Steelers had already clinched a playoff berth and had nothing to play for, and the other seven were due to injury, including one more in 2004, four in 2005, and one each in 2006 and 2009.
Unfortunately, five of those 14 games Roethlisberger did not start came against the Steelers’ top rival, Balitmore, with the Ravens compiling a 5-0 record against Pittsburgh in those contests. In contrast, the Steelers are 7-2 against the Ravens when Roethlisberger starts.
Moreover, the only two losses came in a disastrous 2006 season when Roethlisberger should have been placed on injured reserve for the entire season due to concussion-like symptoms he regularly displayed on the field after his infamous offseason motorcycle accident.
In other words, the formula is simple: Roethlisberger starts and Pittsburgh beats Baltimore. He sits on the bench and the Ravens win.
Many Steeler fans expected that formula to hold true after Pittsburgh’s heartbreaking, 17-14, last-minute home loss to the hated Ravens in week four, which marked the last game of Roethlisberger’s suspension to start this season.
Just wait until Ben comes back and we will get our revenge, most Steeler fans proudly proclaimed. But now with both teams tied atop the AFC North with identical 8-3 records and Pittsburgh set to travel to Baltimore for a Sunday night showdown on national television, Roethlisberger’s status is once again unclear.
While all early reports indicate he will play this Sunday, Roethlisberger sprained a foot in a 19-16 overtime win against the Bills last Sunday, and may be in a walking boot this week and miss practice time.
Roethlisberger was a late scratch from last year’s Monday night showdown at Baltimore due to concussion symptoms resurfacing that had not keep him from practicing all week. As a result, then-third-teamer Dennis Dixon was thrust into his first career start with little notice, playing well for the most part but throwing the game-losing interception in a 23-20 loss on Monday Night Football.
Moreover, the entire Steeelers team seemed to then disintegrate in the midst of a 5-game losing streak after a public spat when star receiver Hines Ward questioned Roethlisberger’s toughness through media. Therefore, I would not be totally shocked if Roethlisberger missed this game, considering his past bad karma against the Ravens.
We should learn more about the status of Roethlisberger’s injury at Mike Tomlin’s weekly press conference later today. But if he starts, history is on the Steelers’ side. And if not, Baltimore is your likely 2010 AFC North champion.