Like a good neighbor Ben Roethlisberger is there. Just like the famous tag line for State Farm, Ben Roethlisberger is always there, except for when he is not. When Ben is not there, it’s usually not for very long and because of an injury that he can’t overcome no matter how hard he tries to will himself. Big Ben has had his share of injuries throughout his career and it’s in these moments that he can’t play that we truly realize just how important and valuable this franchise quarterback is. The Steelers record for the eleven games that Ben has missed throughout his career is 5-6, which isn’t horrible or an indictment of his teammates, but it clearly points out that he is the straw that stirs the drink when you look at the talent that were on these teams over the years.
In 2004, when Big Ben took over for an Injured Tommy Maddox, He was not much more than a game manager. However, from his first snap, through the rest of his rookie season, the skills that made him a special, prototypical quarterback were very apparent. Ben’s most underrated attribute has been his ability to play with pain, something that Steelernation has come to appreciate and respect over the years. A few examples being that he finished a game against Cleveland, after suffering a very painful high ankle sprain, and led the Steelers to a tough win. Against Baltimore, Hali Ngata broke Ben’s nose on a play where a penalty should have been called. Instead of knocking Ben out, it only seemed to anger him as he lead the Steelers to a Come from behind victory. What other quarterback, besides Ben Roethlisberger, would play with cracked ribs where there was a risk of his aorta being punctured? There isn’t a quarterback who would have been able to play, let alone function at that high of a level.
Watching Ben do what Ben does, time and time again, tends to seem “normal” now to those who witness his exploits on a weekly basis. It’s what has come to be expected out of him. The amazing part is that under Todd Haley, Ben is getting even better and staying healthier. These are the first games he is missing since the 2012 season and it’s almost a case of “don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone”. After last Thursday’s Baltimore loss, it became evident just how much his presence is taken for granted. Mike Vick played pretty well considering he only had one day of practice to develop any sort of chemistry with his receivers, but it’s hard not to believe, that had Ben been healthy, he would have shredded the Ravens secondary and led the Steelers to a double digit win.
If the Steelers can tread water until he returns, and it’s looking like it will be for the Kansas City game on October 25th, Ben will still have plenty of time left to lead the Steelers back into the playoffs. This four game stretch without Ben is just a small sample of what Steelers football will be like when he is retired and gone. His absence also accentuates the importance of having a viable replacement ready when his career is over. Why settle for Cliff Stoudt when you could’ve had Dan Marino? Big Ben still has plenty of magic left in that right arm, and when he makes his return, this team’s Super Bowl hopes will return with him. It’s easy to appreciate a one of a kind quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger, and it’s even easier to take it for granted that he’ll always be there, until he’s not.