Why Isn’t Ben Roethlisberger Starting for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10?

Article Highlights:

  • Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger won’t play in Week 10 because of COVID-19
  • The two-time Super Bowl champion self-reported symptoms ahead of a home clash with the winless Detroit Lions
  • Although veteran backup Mason Rudolph will start in Roethlisberger’s place, don’t be surprised if you also see Dwayne Haskins

Pittsburgh Steelers fans have likely long circled a Week 10 matchup with Jared Goff and the winless Detroit Lions as an easy win. The road to a 6-3 start, however, just became significantly tougher. 

Those who expected to watch Ben Roethlisberger carve through a mediocre Lions defense will instead watch Mason Rudolph — and possibly a bit of Dwayne Haskins — on Sunday, Nov. 14, while Roethlisberger is in COVID-19 protocol.

Ben Roethlisberger will miss the Steelers’ Week 10 clash with Detroit while on the COVID-19 list

A rash of injuries and positive COVID-19 tests have knocked some of the NFL’s top quarterbacks out of action recently. Arizona Cardinals star Kyler Murray (ankle) and Green Bay Packers great Aaron Rodgers (COVID) were both inactive in Week 9. 

Although Rodgers will be back in Week 10, he essentially traded places with Roethlisberger. The two-time Super Bowl champion went on the Steelers’ COVID-19 list on Saturday, Nov. 13, after self-reporting symptoms and testing positive. 

Unlike Rodgers, the 39-year-old Roethlisberger is vaccinated, which theoretically speeds up his possible return to the field. Depending on how he tests this coming week, he may be eligible to play in Week 11 against the Los Angeles Chargers. 

Roethlisberger has played sharp despite the Steelers’ overall offensive woes. He entered Week 10 with a 65.6 completion percentage, 1,986 yards, 10 touchdowns, and four interceptions on the season.

Mason Rudolph (and his helmet) is starting for the Steelers once again

With Roethlisberger on the mend, the Steelers will turn to Rudolph, a fourth-year quarterback from Oklahoma State, just as they have in past years. 

Steelers fans saw plenty of Rudolph when he made eight starts, winning five, in 2019. Roethlisberger missed all but two games that year with an elbow injury. 

The 2018 fourth-round pick completed 62.2% of his passes for 1.765 yards, 13 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. However, that wasn’t enough to keep the Steelers from finishing 8-8 and out of the NFL Playoffs. 

Rudolph is perhaps best known for his role in a Thursday Night Football brawl with Cleveland Browns All-Pro pass-rusher Myles Garrett. Garrett ripped Rudolph’s helmet off and swung it at the second-year quarterback with five seconds left in a 21-7 Browns victory on Nov. 14, 2019. 

Garrett, who is Black, later accused Rudolph, a white man, of using a racial slur that night. Rudolph denied the claim, and the NFL said they found no such evidence. 

Rudolph completed 25 passes in 43 attempts for 324 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception in 2020. He did not take an offensive snap in the 2021 campaign’s first nine weeks. 

Don’t be surprised to see Dwayne Haskins see snaps against the Lions


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Roethlisberger’s absence not only propels Rudolph to the starting role, but it elevates Dwayne Haskins, a 2019 first-round pick of the Washington Football Team, to the backup spot.

If Rudolph struggles or the game gets out of hand quickly, don’t be surprised to see Steelers coach Mike Tomlin send Haskins onto the field. The Ohio State product completed 60.1% of his passes in Washington for 2,804 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions across 16 games and 13 starts.

Washington cut Haskins last December amid maturity issues. He has had no reported problems since joining the Steelers in January.

For the Steelers’ sake, they can only hope Rudolph and Haskins play better than Jordan Love did amid Aaron Rodgers’ absence in Week 9.