Steelers Throwback Thursday: Roethlisberger, Luck battle in 907-yard shootout
Steel City Underground presents “Steelers Throwback Thursday” featuring plays, stories, and recaps from recent seasons which you may have forgotten about! Now we’re “bringing them back!”
This week we thought it’d be fun to go back and look at one of the most historic shootouts that the Pittsburgh Steelers have gotten into in franchise history. In late October 2014, the Steelers hosted the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field; the Colts were riding five weeks of domination by their defense and had just forced multiple turnovers against AFC North quarterbacks: Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens and Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals. With Andrew Luck the beneficiary of a defense that had held opponents to converting four-of-41 third downs in their previous games, and his own ability to find targets in the end zone, the talk was that the third-year quarterback was ready to dismantle the Steelers as well. That’s not what happened, however. Instead, Luck found himself in a record-setting shootout with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
After passing for 370 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Colts’ season opener and adding three more touchdown passes in Week 2 of the 2014-15 NFL regular season, Luck passed Jim Harbaugh for fourth on Indianapolis’ all-franchise list. In Week 3, Luck was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week (the third time he’d won the award) for a 370-yard, four-touchdown game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Luck followed that up in Week 4 by becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 370 yards or more, four touchdowns, and have a completion percentage of 70 percent or above in consecutive games. Before the Colts met the Steelers, Luck has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns, leading the league in both categories.
All week, leading up to the game, Roethlisberger was asked about Luck’s performance. After being polite and saying all the right things to the media, ‘Big Ben’ wasn’t about to be upstaged on the field, however. Instead, Roethlisberger put together the best game of his career to that point.
In the first half alone, with great protection from his offensive line, Roethlisberger threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns. His primary targets during the first half were Markus Wheaton, Martavis Bryant, and Antonio Brown; ‘AB’ grabbed two touchdowns in the second quarter. Tight end Heath Miller also went over 100 yards receiving with one touchdown in the game. By the time the final seconds ticked off the game clock, Roethlisberger had completed 40-of-49 passes for 522 yards and six touchdowns (to no interceptions or sacks) for a quarterback rating of 99.2.
Roethlisberger’s total yards passing tied him for the fourth-most in NFL history with an 81.6 percent completion rate. The game marked the second time in his career that he had thrown for 500-plus yards. He was also the fourth quarterback to reach 100 wins in his first 150 starts, joining Joe Montana, Tom Brady, and Terry Bradshaw.
According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, former Los Angeles Rams quarterback Norm Van Brocklin holds the lead for most yards thrown in a game with 554 during the 1951 season. Prior to the 2014 season, Roethlisberger had a franchise-high 503 yards against the Green Bay Packers. In 2014, Roethlisberger finished the season with 4,952 to Luck’s 4,761.
It would have been fun to see Luck and Roethlisberger go for another memorable game in 2020 but Luck retired last year after missing all of the 2018-19 season due to injury.