There’s something happening here and it’s not quite clear what it is. Ben Roethlisberger threw six touchdown passes for a second consecutive game, leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 43-23 win over the Baltimore Ravens, gaining a bid edge over them in the AFC North playoff race.
How weird is it that Roethlisberger has thrown 12 touchdown passes in two games? Just as weird as it is to see the Steelers suddenly looking so consistent on offense and in general, winning a third consecutive game. A team that had a run of almost two full games without a touchdown earlier in the season is suddenly clicking on every possibly piston and cylinder, averaging 41.3 points over the last three games and improving to 4th in the NFL with 294.4 passing yards per game.
Roethlisberger threw for 340 yards, completing 25-of-37 passes. he connected with five different receivers for the scores, including twice finding Martavis Bryant in the end zone. Antonio Brown, as always, was the big star of the performance, catching 11 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown. He’s now only four yards away from reaching 1000 yards for a third season in four years, and has caught for over 100 yards for the fifth time this season.
The Ravens keep struggling on offense, and Joe Flacco once again threw an interception. He did have a couple of touchdown passes, finding Torrey Smith in the first quarter to take their only lead of the game and later on with a pass to Crockett Gillmore, but the only other time the Ravens entered the end zone was on a big 108 yard kickoff return by Jacoby Jones. The Ravens got nothing from their ground game (only 63 yards) and it felt like they allowed a touchdown on every drive, although the Steelers did punt six times.
So once again – how special is Big Ben’s six touchdown accomplishment? Only six other players have more than one six-touchdown game in their career: Peyton Manning, the only player with three, Tom Brady, George Blanda, Y.A. Tittle, Sammy Baugh and Charley Johnson. Tittle is the only player with two such games in one season, and Roethlisberger is the only player with two such games happening back-to-back.
The Steelers’ protection is still far from perfect. Roethlisberger was sacked three times and hit quite a lot. The same happened to Flacco as well. Yet Roethlisberger is avoiding the bad throws and the fumbles (most of the time). His receivers seem to be in position and in sync no matter how quickly he needs to get the ball out of his hand. The Steelers at 6-3 seem far from a perfect team or the kind good enough to be consistently good, sometimes even great. But their quarterback is pulling off a very special season under difficult circumstances.
Keeping this up? The six-touchdown thing is an anomaly, but winning? The schedule doesn’t seem too difficult, especially with games against the Jets and the Titans to carry them into the bye week. After that? A bit more tricky with two games against the Bengals and also the Kansas City Chiefs to face. Yet despite the struggles of keeping with the standards of three or four years ago, this Steelers team is more than just mediocre, and a special season from their quarterback seems to be keeping them above the mundane existence of other teams.