Ben Roethlisberger impresses teammates with gritty effort in critical win

PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not say much about the stomach virus that prevented him from warming up before a 27-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

And the 11th-year veteran flat-out ignored a question of how close he came to not playing Sunday night.

But several of his teammates attested that Roethlisberger had more than just a touch of the flu after getting sick on Sunday.

“I appreciate him because a lot of guys would have sat down in that situation,” left guard Ramon Foster said. “Tough dude. He didn’t bat an eye. Shocking that he played his butt off.”

Roethlisberger shook off the virus to throw for 317 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. He achieved a slew of milestones in leading the Steelers to their fifth AFC North title since he became the starting quarterback in 2004. Among them:

  • Roethlisberger shared the NFL passing title with New Orleans’ Drew Brees (4,952 yards), becoming the first quarterback in Steelers history to accomplish that feat.

  • Roethlisberger became the 18th player in NFL history with at least 250 passing touchdowns after a 21-yard catch and run for a score by rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant.

  • Roethlisberger established franchise records for yards, completions (408), completion percentage (67.1) and 300-yard games (nine) in a season.

His performance against the Bengals won’t go down as one of Roethlisberger’s best games this season. But that is how high the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback has set the bar, and when you factor in the circumstances…

“He’s a true soldier to fight through that,” Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey said.

Roethlisberger led the Steelers to victories in their final four regular-season games. It is the first time they Steelers have done that since 2005, when they won four more games in the postseason to capture the franchise’s fifth Lombardi Trophy.

“Hopefully the journey’s not over,” Roethlisberger said when asked if he has been on a team that has made the strides that the Steelers have following an uneven 3-3 start. “I think that we are getting better, and that was always the goal. We said that we have to get hot at the right time. I don’t think we’re hot, but we’re playing pretty good football and we just have to keep getting better.”