By Annie Kelly
The long, four-week wait for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s return that Steelers fans have yearned to be over will finally end on Sunday when the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) take on AFC North division leader Cincinnati Bengals (6-0). “Big Ben” has been recovering since he sprained his MCL and suffered from a bone bruise after being sacked during week 3 against the St. Louis Rams.Embed from Getty Images
The Steelers have gone through both their second and third-string quarterbacks over Roethlisberger’s four-week absence. Veteran, second-string quarterback Michael Vick started in weeks four, five and part of six when the team played against the Baltimore Ravens, San Diego Chargers, and Arizona Cardinals. The Steelers lost to the Ravens, but won against the Chargers and the Cardinals.
However, Vick suffered a left hamstring injury during the game against the Cardinals. Cue third-string quarterback Landry Jones. Jones took Vick’s place in the Cardinals game and led the team to a win, causing head coach Mike Tomlin to officially list Landry Jones as the number two quarterback and demote Vick to number three. Jones then started in Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs, but unfortunately did not pull through. According to ESPN, Jones threw for 209 yards, but also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.Embed from Getty Images
The Steelers were able to go 2-2 with their backup quarterbacks, but fans eagerly await Roethlisberger’s return. ESPN reports Tomlin saying about Roethlisberger’s return: “We don’t have any reservations or limitations about his ability. As I sit here today, we’re comfortable where he is in his overall ability. We’re going to need him, obviously.” And obviously is correct, seeing as the Bengals are 6-0 overall and 1-0 within their division, while the Steelers are 4-3 overall and 0-1 within their division.
Roethlisberger explained to radio station 93.7 FM the reason why he could not participate in the game against the Chiefs: “I felt good in practice, but then Thursday night it just didn’t feel real good, it kind of ached on me a little bit, didn’t sleep a lot. It was a little discouraging, but I guess that’s part of the rehab process.” Roethlisberger’s teammate, running back DeAngelo Williams, said of the quarterback, “We have the best quarterback in the world.”Embed from Getty Images
Overall, Roethlisberger averages 1.62 passing scores per game, completes 66.35 percent of his passes, and averages 289.2 yards per game. From 2013-2014, he averaged around 600 passing attempt per year, while in his first five years he averaged 381 passing attempts per year. In entire career, he has thrown 255 touchdown passes and 133 interceptions. However, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, when Roethlisberger returns from an injury all of those stats decrease. His throwing percentage drops to 59.5 percent and he averages 192 passing yards per game. Fans can only hope that on Sunday, that is not the case.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis said of Roethlisberger: “You knew he was a special one. You could see it. He was limited in terms of his opportunities. It wasn’t even a question mark. When you have players like that, even if the numbers don’t say it, you see it.” Roethlisberger is a fighter and will come back fighting hard for a win against the Bengals. It would be an understatement to say that Tomlin, Roethlisberger, and all of the fans are nervous about the upcoming game, but all they can do is hope the superstar quarterback is able to pull out a win.