Ben Roethlisberger Poised to Surpass Joe Montana, Brett Favre in Playoff Passing

The Pittsburgh Steelers QB should move into third place on the NFL's all-time list on Super Wild Card Weekend

Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the Ravens. The Steelers QB should pass two other famous quarterbacks for playoff passing yardage this weekend.
Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the Ravens.
Patrick Smith/Getty

Already the Steelers’ all-time leader in games played, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is set to start his 23rd playoff game for the franchise on Sunday night when Pittsburgh heads to Kansas City to face the heavily favored Chiefs.

And, win or lose, the 39-year-old is poised to make history by passing both Joe Montana and Brett Favre on the NFL’s all-time list for passing yards in the postseason. Entering the game at No. 5 on the list with 5,757 passing yards in the playoffs in his career, Roethlisberger will move past both Montana (5,772 yards) and Favre (5,855 yards) unless something goes terribly wrong. (Peyton Manning is No. 2 on the list with 7,339 yards while Tom Brady is the all-time leader with 12,449 and counting …)

In his last playoff appearance, a 48-37 loss to the Browns last season, Roethlisberger threw for 501 yards and four touchdowns while completing nearly 70% of his passes, but also tossed four interceptions. That’s somewhat of a pattern for Big Ben as he has thrown at least one interception in five straight playoff games. Over that five-game stretch, which dates back to 2016, Roethlisberger has 12 TDs compared to nine picks. He’s also dropped three straight playoff games. Overall in his playoff career, Roethlisberger has completed 63% of his passes with 34 touchdowns to go along with 28 interceptions and has a record of 13-9 with victories in Super Bowls XL and XLIII.

Though Roethlisberger should move up on the all-time postseason passing list, it won’t be easy for him to improve on his playoff record against the Chiefs as ESPN’s Bill Barnwell has the 18-year veteran ranked dead last of all 14 playoff quarterbacks.

“At this point, Roethlisberger is a shell of his former self, with his team reaching the postseason in spite of — rather than because of — him,” Barnwell said. “He ranked 25th in both QBR and average net yards per attempt and 28th in CPOE (completion percentage over expected). He is clearly the worst starting QB in this postseason. It should be no surprise given his current style of play, but his QBR on passes 20-plus yards downfield was the worst among qualified quarterbacks.”

Ranked as 12.5-point underdogs at most sportsbooks, the Steelers will have to pull off somewhat of a miracle to win — and maybe even cover — against the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes.

Biased towards the Steelers and the quarterback he coached for three seasons, former Pittsburgh coach and current CBS Sports NFL analyst Bill Cowher is confident Sunday’s game will be closer than the pundits and oddsmakers think.

“Every game when I coached, I tried to make it personal,” Cowher said. “You want to go to something where you can challenge the players and make it personal. There’s nothing more, I would say, almost offensive as to be a double-digit underdog when you make the playoffs. Like, ‘Wow, you really don’t think we’re that good, do you.’ This is very easy for Mike Tomlin to make this game personal. … ‘OK, no one is giving us a chance. So we don’t really have anything to lose. So let’s go in there and have fun and play this game.’

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