The rule for many years used to be that rookie quarterbacks did not lead playoff teams. It just didn’t happen. The best a team could hope for with a rookie starting most of the games under center was that they would learn enough to be better the next year.
The learning curve for an NFL quarterback usually lasts a few years. There have been exceptions, however. In recent years, Andy Dalton and Joe Flacco have excelled in their first action, among many others. Ben Roethlisberger, however, was the first and probably the best.
Stepping in part way through a Week 2 contest against Baltimore, Roethlisberger never lost a start until the AFC Championship game as the Steelers finished 15-1 (their only loss that Week 2 contest). While playing in an offense uniquely suited to protecting a rookie, Roethlisberger still put up steady numbers and developed a quick reputation for making big plays when all hope seemed lost.
For his 2004 season, Roethlisberger won Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.