A loss is a loss, except when you break the team record of one of the most hallowed members in franchise history, right?
Not even close.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” said Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger after he broke Terry Bradshaw’s team record for career passing yardage Thursday night in Nashville.
“A loss is a loss and that’s what means the most.”
Roethlisberger passed for 363 yards to give him 28,066 career passing yards in only his ninth season.
Bradshaw compiled 27,989 passing yards in 14 seasons. It was a time when running the ball was the Steelers’ primary focus, yet Bradshaw was the offense’s centerpiece in winning four Super Bowls.
Roethlisberger will find that latter record all the more difficult to match today after the Steelers fell to 2-3 with the 26-23 loss to the Tennessee Titans on a 40-yard field goal as time expired.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin predictably talked about the result when asked about Roethlisberger’s accomplishment.
“We lost the game and that’s the way we look at it,” said Tomlin. “That’s the way we need to look at it. Individual performances aside, we all could have done more to get out of the stadium. That’s just team football. That’s the ultimate team sport. We didn’t do the job.”
Roethlisberger broke the record late in the third quarter on a 17-yard pass to tight end Heath Miller, whom earlier in the game had become the franchise’s third all-time leading receiver behind Hines Ward and John Stallworth.
Miller’s third-quarter catch on third-and-10 moved the Steelers across midfield and helped set up Baron Batch’s 1-yard touchdown run that gave the Steelers a 20-16 lead.
The lead eventually reached 23-16, but the Steelers fell short when Roethlisberger couldn’t move the team closer on a third-and-7 pass to an open Batch which left kicker Shaun Suisham with a 54-yard attempt that fell short prior to the Titans’ winning kick.
“We put Suisham in such a long field goal,” Roethlisberger said. “I have to complete one more pass just to make it easier on him.”
The performance by Roethlisberger marked the 12th time he’s passed for more than 360 yards in a game, also a franchise record.
However, the Steelers are 6-6 in those games, including 0-2 this season. Roethlisberger passed for 384 yards in the loss to the Oakland Raiders. Perhaps that’s why Titans coach Mike Munchak took Roethlisberger’s productive day as a game-plan plus.
“Our defense stopped the run game,” Munchak said. “Made Ben have to throw it, maybe more than they wanted to.”
It didn’t help Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense that Rashard Mendenhall left the game with an Achilles injury after only six carries, and that his backup, Isaac Redman, left after only five carries after taking a helmet in the knee from Titans linebacker Colin McCarthy.
“We lost,” was all Roethlisberger could say in summation. “We are not scoring enough points or making the play when we need to. I’m probably the most proud of them because there are some guys that are playing some real selfless football and stepping up in big situations and fighting through injuries and playing through injuries and playing for guys through injuries. I can’t say how proud I am of those guys.”
Still, the Steelers are 2-3 as Roethlisberger’s window to match Bradshaw’s greatest record continues to dwindle.
“It stinks,” Roethlisberger said. “Not good. We have to get better.”