Steelers Throwback Thursdays: Ben Roethlisberger becomes the Steelers starting QB

Before the NFL officially gears up for the 2021-22 season, Steel City Underground will be taking fans back in time to feature events, special moments, and historical times in the world of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Steelers Nation. Join us as we revisit these moments in our “Throwback Thursdays”.

With the current state of hysteria among the media and the Steelers harshest critics claiming Pittsburgh needs to get their “quarterback of the future” in place, many of those persons forget how Ben Roethlisberger came to be the team’s starting signal caller at all.

Initially, Head Coach Bill Cowher’s plans didn’t have Roethlisberger as a starter during his rookie season at all. In fact, Roethlisberger was set to hold the clipboard as the team’s third-string quarterback for his inaugural year in the NFL.

However, those plans changed early in 2004.

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Roethlisberger entered training camp behind Pittsburgh’s current starting quarterback, Tommy Maddox, and veteran backup, Charlie Batch. Maddox was entering his fourth season with the team, having taken over the starting role for Kordell Stewart in a back-and-forth 2002 season, one year removed from Maddox’ unlikely return to the NFL after departing the league following the 1995 season.

Maddox would lead the Steelers to a 6-10 record in 2003, setting the organization up with a higher draft selection which afforded them the opportunity to bring Big Ben aboard.

The plan was to ease the young Miami of Ohio quarterback into action, but he assumed the backup role early in the preseason with an injury sidelining Batch. Roethlisberger was then thrust into his first regular season game in the third quarter of a Week 2 encounter against the Ravens where Maddox was too sidelined with an injury.

While he would fail to lead a comeback bid against the Ravens in that game, Big Ben would never see a checkmark in the losing column the remainder of the season, ripping off 13-straight wins and capping off his year with the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

The 13-game streak would also start off with an unlikely scenario against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3. The start time of the game had been postponed due to Hurricane Jeanne, which left the field conditions wet and muddy as rain wrecked the game throughout.

Big Ben would go 12-for-22 with 163 yards passing, a touchdown and an interception as he led the Steelers to a 13-3 victory. The rookie QB would never look back, holding onto the starting role from this point forward as the Steelers amassed a 15-1 record on the season.

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