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Roethlisberger making a case as NFL’s MVP

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger’s resume is stacked.

Two Super Bowl rings. Six Pro Bowls. Two passing titles. A spot likely awaiting in the Hall of Fame five years or so after the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback retires.

There is one accolade Roethlisberger hasn’t achieved in 17 years, 153 wins (and counting) and 385 touchdown passes (and counting): a single vote for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award. It might be time he received one. Maybe more than one.

While Roethlisberger is quick to point to Pittsburgh’s unblemished record (9-0) as all the validation he needs for a job well done, the way the 38-year-old is thriving a year removed from a right elbow injury that cost him all but six quarters of the 2019 season is the biggest reason the Steelers are the NFL’s last unbeaten team.

A year ago, they somehow managed to pull out an 8-8 season despite shuffling between backups Mason Rudolph and Devlin “Duck” Hodges.

Now they’ve paired one of the league’s most disruptive defenses with an offense that makes up for it in production what it lacks in hype.

Roethlisberger is on pace to set a career high in touchdown passes and a career low in interceptions (in seasons where he’s played at least 15 games). And he seems to be getting stronger as the weeks pass.

On Sunday, he shook off five days of self-quarantine due to the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols to throw for a season-high 344 yards and four touchdowns in a 36-10 win over Cincinnati.

Playing in the middle of ever-swirling winds at blustery Heinz Field, he completed 27 of 46 passes against a Bengals defense that — perhaps bizarrely — stacked the line of scrimmage to stop Pittsburgh’s lethargic running game, daring Roethlisberger to beat them with his arm.

Done and done.

Oh, and for good measure he hit Diontae Johnson with a 46-yard rainbow down the left sideline late in the first quarter to get going, silencing any concerns about his inability to get the ball downfield with his rebuilt right arm.

“That was the spark that got us going deep down the field like that,” said Johnson, who finished with six receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown.

Roethlisberger admitted he might have had a little extra zip on the ball thanks to a low-key week in which he worked from home when contact tracing conducted after teammate and good friend Vance McDonald tested positive for COVID-19 required Roethlisberger to stay away from the team facility for five days.

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