Ben Roethlisberger is more than just the quarterback who has rewritten the NFL record books over the past two Sundays. He's more than the physical specimen from earlier in his career. At 32 years old and in his 11th NFL season, the Steelers quarterback is the total package.
Roethlisberger is the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 12 touchdown passes over two games, but he also hasn't thrown an interception during this stretch. In fact, he's been prudent in general this year. Roethlisberger is on pace for five interceptions this season, which would tie his career low.
“I think I’ve played some good football before, because I still feel like during that game last week there was a lot of — going back and looking at it — a lot of plays I wish I could have made,” Roethlisberger said. “So as long as we win that’s all that matters to me.”
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The knock on Roethlisberger throughout his career is that he was just a physical specimen — a 6-foot-5, 241-pound hulk of granite who is nearly impossible to take down. But he's never been known as a pocket passer. That's changed a bit over the past few weeks as his numbers have gone through the roof.
Stopping Roethlisberger will be no easy task for a depleted Jets defense. Last year Roethlisberger was a bit reckless with the ball, trying to force throws in an effort to make plays. This year he is patient and spreading the ball around, in particular finding wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell.
It has the Steelers at 6-3 this year and primed for a return to the postseason.
“He is in rhythm, but I think so is the whole unit I think for him to put up the type of numbers that he has put up, particularly in recent weeks. It is not a one-man job,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. “I think the offensive line has done a really good job of protecting and giving him time to do what it is he needs to do. I think the young wide receivers corps is really rounded into form and doing what they need to do in terms of getting open and catching the football.”
“He's taking care of the ball,” safety Dawan Landry told Metro. “[He's] reading the read real quick, getting the ball out of his hands real fast, but he's still Big Ben and taking those chances down the field.”
Roethlisberger's understanding of the game and the ability to read defenses has matured this year, leading to an increase in average yards per completion and a decrease in turnovers.
“He's an amazing human being No. 1,” former Steeler and current Jets right guard Willie Colon told Metro. “I know him personally; I love the guy. I've been a part of his growth as a quarterback. He's grown into his own. He's always been an elite quarterback. Twelve touchdowns the past two weeks doesn't suddenly make him that.”
Roethlisberger is a combined 47-for-61 for 539 yards with three touchdowns in his last two regular season games against the Jets. He hasn't thrown an interception during those two games.
The Steelers won both games.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.