Before you settled into your Barcalounger Sunday, two more NFL players had been ejected from games. And then, before the early games were complete, another player had been disqualified.
Add it all up, and NFL officials already have ejected more than twice the number of players as they did during all 17 weeks of the 2015 regular season. The total of 10 disqualifications puts them on pace to set at least a 15-year high and continues a two-pronged effort by the league to restrain what it considers to be unsportsmanlike player behavior.
Roethlisberger won that 2010 game after Haloti Ngata busted his nose and left the crushed bone looking, the quarterback said, “like corn flakes” on the X-rays.
“Hands down,” Harbaugh told ESPN.com when asked if Roethlisberger is the toughest competitor his teams ever faced. “Oh yeah, yes, yes, his physical power, the strength, just a brutish athlete. He’s incredible. The guy’s a Hall of Famer, a lock.
“But it’s his vision, too. How does he see down the field? He’s got people bouncing off him, falling off him, he’s shrugging them away, moving in the pocket, and all the time where are his eyes? I mean, how does he feel these guys? His eyes are downfield all the time. You look at his size, arm strength, accuracy, the fact he’s at the line doing everything, calling their offense at the line. I don’t think there’s any other quarterback in history that you can compare Ben to. Who would you compare him to?”
Roethlisberger didn’t do enough ducking and dodging to steal this game. He usually struggles in these comeback games (especially since he’s forever expediting his returns), and Sunday was no exception. Roethlisberger spent most of the day missing open receivers, dropping shotgun snaps, absorbing hits on delivery and acting like a quarterback who should’ve waited to return for next week’s showdown against Dallas and QB Dak Prescott.
When it was over, the losing quarterback revealed he decided he was fit enough to go a couple of hours before kickoff, and blamed himself for the substandard play to come. As to how his body felt, Roethlisberger said, “You never walk out of a Baltimore game feeling as good as you went in.” And then the NFL’s reigning king of pain grabbed the handle of his travel bag and started rolling it out of the ballpark with a noticeable limp. Ben Roethlisberger won’t go down as the best player in the Brady-Manning generation. He will go down as the toughest.
As the chart shows, NFL ejections typically have remained in single digits for a full season. Historically, the short season relative to other sports has made the league reluctant to use the ejection as a deterrent. There have not been more than 13 in any season since at least 2001, which is as far back as the ESPN Stats & Information database goes.