Happy Father’s Day, everybody.
I hope the Cleveland Browns at least got Ben Roethlisberger a nice tie.
I know it’s a little low-hanging fruit but this is as good a chance of any, especially now that Roethlisberger has retired, to revisit the utter dominance Roethlisberger had over the Browns. A reminder of #7’s career numbers against Cleveland.
Ben Roethlisberger Versus The Browns (2004-2021)
Passing TDs: 43
Rushing TDs: 3
QB Rating: 92.2
Wins By More Than 1 Possession: 19
Incredible, incredible numbers. 65.5% of his career games against the Browns ended in wins by 9+ points. His only losses came in 2009, a 13-6 loss, and 2014, a 31-10 defeat. The tie came in the 2018 opener, a game Pittsburgh blew late.
But overall, Roethlisberger owned the Browns as much as anyone has owned an opponent. His first win against the Browns came in 2004, the season where Roethlisberger didn’t lose a game until Rodney Harrison and New England broke the Steelers’ hearts. In a Week 5 matchup, Roethlisberger threw for 231 yards and just five incompletions as Pittsburgh won 34-23, a game that wasn’t as close as the score suggests. Roethlisberger added in a six-yard rushing score that game for good measure.
Roethlisberger won his first ten games against Cleveland. His biggest defeat of them came in 2005, a 41-0 shellacking of the hapless Browns, again clunking their way to the finish line. Roethlisberger didn’t have to do much that day, completing just 13 passes but hit Hines Ward for a seven-yard score late in the first quarter to make it 14-0. Roethlisberger was pulled late in the game and saw Charlie Batch hit Quincy Morgan for a 31-yard score, which on a personal note, is one of my earliest Steelers’ memories. Check out this link for some fun highlights. That win helped serve as a catalyst for the team’s Super Bowl XL run, sending Jerome Bettis out on top.
After that blip in 2009, Roethlisberger rattled off eight more consecutive wins before the 2014 loss. By then, the offense ran through Roethlisberger a lot more and his numbers spiked. Three touchdowns in a 2010 win against the Browns and again in the 2012 regular season finale. 365 yards in the 2014 opener, including leading the game-winning drive.
Throughout his career, Roethlisberger won big, won close, and often played hurt. Some of his most memorable performances came in vintage, limping-around style. His gutsy 2011 performance on Thursday night in Cleveland, somehow ambling his way onto the field for the second half and hitting Antonio Brown for the game-sealing, 79-yard touchdown. Or 2015, a game he didn’t even start but replaced an injured Landry Jones and promptly threw for 379 yards and three scores like it was no big deal.
It’s a level of dominance over a rival that’s hardly been matched, right up there with Tom Brady against the Buffalo Bills (33-3). Not even Terry Bradshaw had that kind of record against a team, going 17-5 in his career versus the Browns (granted, the Browns were better in the 70s). And it’s a level of dominance we’re not going to see in Pittsburgh for a long time.
Winning in the NFL is hard. But when it came to the Browns, Roethlisberger made it look easy.