Comebacks, hat tricks and climbing ladders

It took quarterback Ben Roethlisberger just under 21 minutes to accomplish more in 2020 than he had the previous season.

The 10-yard touchdown pass Roethlisberger threw to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster early in the second quarter on Sept. 14 against the New York Football Giants was Roethlisberger's first scoring strike of the season and one more than he'd managed in six quarters in 2019 on the way to elbow surgery.

As it turned, out he was just getting started.

Roethlisberger would go on to lead the Steelers to a 26-16, season-opening victory over the Giants, to their 10th postseason appearance in his 17-year tenure, and to their eighth AFC North Division championship in that span.

Following is a look back at a few of Roethlisberger's more memorable regular-season moments in 2020:

Sept. 27: One Up on Iron Mike

Roethlisberger's appearance in Week Three against the Texans was the 221st of his Steelers career. That surpassed center Mike Webster (220) for sole possession of first place on the franchise's all-time games played list.

Roethlisberger started all 15 games he played in 2020, which ran his career totals to 233 appearances (11th among quarterbacks in NFL history, sixth among QBs for one franchise) and to 231 starts (eighth-most in NFL annals).

Sept. 14: Hat Tricks

The touchdown pass to Smith-Schuster against the Giants was the first of three on the night for Roethlisberger. He also connected for touchdowns with wide receiver James Washington (13 yards) and with Smith-Schuster again (8 yards). It was the 50th career game in which Roethlisberger had thrown at least three touchdown passes, the eighth-highest total in NFL history.

Roethlisberger also threw for three TDs on Oct. 11 against Philadelphia, on Nov. 8 at Dallas, and on Dec. 27 against Indianapolis, and for four touchdowns on Oct. 15 against Cincinnati.

Sept. 20: From Way Downtown

The 84-yard, catch-and-run connection for a touchdown between Roethlisberger and wide receiver Chase Claypool in Week Two against Denver was Roethlisberger's ninth career TD pass of 80 yards or more. That tied Roethlisberger with Brett Favre for the most such passes in NFL history.

Nov. 22: Climbing the Ladder

Roethlisberger completed 32 of 46 throws for 267 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 11 victory at Jacksonville. That moved him past Eli Manning (4,895) and into seventh place on the NFL's all-time completions list (4,906). Roethlisberger would go on to pass Dan Marino (4,967) a couple of games later against Washington on the way to finishing the regular season with 5,050 career completions (sixth in NFL history).

Dec. 27: It Ain't Over 'Til it's Over

The Steelers' rally from a 24-7, third-quarter deficit to a 28-24 win over Indianapolis in Week 16 was the 46th occasion on which Roethlisberger had guided the Steelers to victory when they had either been tied or trailing in the fourth quarter. That's the fifth-most such wins in NFL history. Roethlisberger also ended the regular season ranked No. 5 in all-time wins by a starting quarterback with 156.

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