Cleveland’s secondary is decimated by injuries and players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, so reaching that milestone today is not entirely out of the realm of possibilities. Should four touchdowns happen in four quarters, it won’t be a first this season — Roethlisberger did it Week 9 versus the Bengals. That’s also the night he happened to become only the seventh quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 60,000 yards in a career.
I know, Week 9 seems like moons ago, given the season’s ups and downs. But if the offense can produce a rhythm as they did most recently versus the Colts, only out of the gun and not in the last 30 minutes, hitting the milestone is feasible.
And how fitting and exciting would it be for this accomplishment to happen tonight versus Cleveland? After all, it was the Steelers’ 2007 season opener — against the Browns — when Big Ben set a then career-high in touchdowns with four. Just seven games later, he would eclipse it with five versus the Baltimore Ravens.
But, even with all the injuries, this is a different Browns team than ’07. And let’s not forget, this is playoff football. The Browns are in it to win it just as much as the Steelers.
A second more attainable milestone, and equally-impressive feat, is touchdowns thrown on the season. Roethlisberger put up three scores in what was his regular-season finale versus the Colts, so he needs only one to tie his career-high of 34 — set in 2018 — or two to surpass. And then he’d be halfway to 400, might as well keep going.
There’s a great supporting cast to help Roethlisberger pull it off. Options are aplenty. And the beauty is — it doesn’t matter who it’s to — be it JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool or James Washington. Heck, even an endzone toss to Eric Ebron, James Conner or Ray-Ray McCloud will do.
What’s cool is that should Ben not manage four touchdowns but defeats Cleveland, he’ll have another shot at obtaining the record in the 2020 season in Buffalo in the divisional-round.