The 2020 version of the Pittsburgh Steelers have done something that no other team in the history of the storied franchise has ever managed to accomplish: begin a season 8-0.
Led by head coach Mike Tomlin and veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh on Sunday came from 13 points behind in the second quarter to slip by the Dallas Cowboys, 24-19, thanks to 15 fourth-quarter points.
With the win, the Steelers remain the league’s only undefeated team.
A big reason why they were able to stay unblemished on Sunday was because of the play of the 38-year-old Roethlisberger. The two-time Super Bowl-winner completed 29 of 42 attempts for 306 yards and three touchdowns, with two of them coming in the game’s final quarter, despite briefly leaving the game in the second quarter with a knee injury.
The win was Roethlisberger’s 68th career 300-yard passing game — another franchise record and one more than Hall of Famer Dan Marino for sixth in NFL history.
Yet in his postgame press conference, Roethlisberger was sure to compliment the resilience and effort of his teammates multiple times.
“I can’t say enough about the skill guys,” he said, “the way that they’re able to do things on the fly, and the line blocking, and I’m just really proud of everybody.”
Later, he added, “I don’t want to let [my teammates] down. So I want to give everything I have and fight.”
In 2019, Roethlisberger suffered a right elbow injury in Week 2 and missed the remainder of the season. He’s opened up more since his return about how his perspective has changed throughout his career and the greater purpose he seeks to live for every day. In June, Roethlisberger was asked about his faith in Jesus.
“Three years ago now I made the decision to be baptized because I felt like I needed to do that,” he said. “I wanted to have a closer walk, a better relationship with Jesus, with my wife, with my kids, with my family — become a better person. So I think the person that brought me to Him was Jesus. Jesus is the One who brought me back to Him, and I’m so thankful for it because I feel I’m a better Christian, a better husband and a better father today because of His forgiveness of me.”
Later, he added, “One of the things that I want to tell guys and tell people out there is that I could be a really good athlete and a Christian. It’s not one or the other. You can do both. I want that to be known, especially to all you young men out there. It’s cool to be a Christian and be an athlete. Go ahead and be the best athlete you can possibly be, and see if you can be a better Christian.
“That’s what I’m trying to do now. I’m trying to be a better Christian than I am athlete and football player.”
“I didn’t necessarily go away from my faith; I always believed,” Roethlisberger said on the podcast. “I didn’t lose my faith in Him, but I didn’t grow. I didn’t grow as a Christian in college, and I wish more than anything I would have. I wish I would have been on the path of growth and trying to get closer to Him all through college because I can only imagine where I’d be now if I would have done that.”
So even as Roethlisberger has fought hard to come back from injury at this late stage of his career and lead his team to an 8-0 start, he knows he can rest in Jesus, who has always guided his life and brought him into a deeper relationship with Him.
The Steelers take the field again on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET in a home game against AFC North-foe Cincinnati.