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Things are getting ugly in Pittsburgh. Really ugly.

Ben Roethlisberger started the first nine games of the season, but things are getting ugly quickly in Pittsburgh. After suffering a right shoulder injury and bruising his ribs against the Chiefs, Byron Leftwich started last weekend against the Ravens. Leftwich injured his ribs against Baltimore, leaving Pittsburgh to now turn to Charlie Batch against the Browns tomorrow.

When was the last time a team started three different quarterbacks in consecutive games? Three teams last year pulled off that feat. After Jason Campbell started the first six games of the season, Kyle Boller started the next week before the team permanently switched to Carson Palmer.

Matt Schaub was the Texans starting quarterback for ten games, but a foot injury ended his season. Matt Leinart took over, but a broken collarbone ended his season, leaving the reins in the hands of rookie T.J. Yates. In St. Louis, an ankle injury caused Sam Bradford to miss a December game against the 49ers, leaving A.J. Feeley to start. Feely injured his right thumb, but Bradford was back the next week. He would miss the rest of the year due to his ankle, though, and Kellen Clemens started the last three games.

So it’s actually not all that rare for a team to go with three different quarterbacks in three weeks; at some point this season, it’s possible the Cardinals will, as well, with John Skelton, Ryan Lindley, and Kevin Kolb. From 2000 to 2011, teams started three different quarterbacks in consecutive games on 36 different occasions:

HOU201110-12Matt SchaubMatt LeinartT.J. Yates
OAK20116-8Jason CampbellKyle BollerCarson Palmer
STL201112-14A.J. FeeleySam BradfordKellen Clemens
CAR20108-10Matt MooreJimmy ClausenBrian St. Pierre
MIA20108-10Chad HenneChad PenningtonTyler Thigpen
MIA20109-11Chad PenningtonTyler ThigpenChad Henne
MIN201013-15Tarvaris JacksonBrett FavreJoe Webb
TEN20109-11Kerry CollinsVince YoungRusty Smith
TEN201010-12Vince YoungRusty SmithKerry Collins
CLE200811-13Brady QuinnDerek AndersonKen Dorsey
KAN20081-3Brodie CroyleDamon HuardTyler Thigpen
KAN20085-7Damon HuardBrodie CroyleTyler Thigpen
SEA20084-6Matt HasselbeckCharlie FryeSeneca Wallace
MIN20077-9Kelly HolcombTarvaris JacksonBrooks Bollinger
STL200711-13Marc BulgerGus FrerotteBrock Berlin
STL200712-14Gus FrerotteBrock BerlinMarc Bulger
NYJ20053-5Chad PenningtonBrooks BollingerVinny Testaverde
PIT20059-11Charlie BatchTommy MaddoxBen Roethlisberger
STL200510-12Marc BulgerJamie MartinRyan Fitzpatrick
SFO20056-8Alex SmithKen DorseyCody Pickett
ARI200411-13Shaun KingJohn NavarreJosh McCown
TAM20044-6Brad JohnsonChris SimmsBrian Griese
TEN200314-16Billy VolekSteve McNairNeil O'Donnell
OAK20037-9Rich GannonMarques TuiasosopoRick Mirer
CAR20026-8Rodney PeeteChris WeinkeRandy Fasani
CAR20027-9Chris WeinkeRandy FasaniRodney Peete
CIN20023-5Gus FrerotteAkili SmithJon Kitna
PHI200210-12Donovan McNabbKoy DetmerA.J. Feeley
STL20024-6Kurt WarnerJamie MartinMarc Bulger
STL200212-14Kurt WarnerJamie MartinMarc Bulger
TAM200214-16Brad JohnsonShaun KingRob Johnson
TAM200215-17Shaun KingRob JohnsonBrad Johnson
WAS20023-5Shane MatthewsDanny WuerffelPatrick Ramsey
DAL20014-6Quincy CarterAnthony WrightClint Stoerner
SDG20003-5Moses MorenoRyan LeafJim Harbaugh
SDG20009-11Jim HarbaughMoses MorenoRyan Leaf

Excluding the 1987 season, the 1974 49ers were the only team since the merger to start four different quarterbacks in four weeks. As you can imagine, their story is interesting. Joe Reed entered the season as the starter, after splitting time with a 38-year-old John Brodie (who retired after the season) and Steve Spurrier (who suffered a severely dislocated shoulder in the final pre-season game in ’74) in 1973. He started the first three games of the year, and played miserably, so the team moved on to Dennis Morrison, who had been a 14th-round draft selection in 1973.

Morrison started the 4th and 5th games of the season for the 49ers, which is when the streak began. Morris started game five in Detroit, but threw three interceptions, so in week 6, the 49ers went back to Reed. Reed went 2/8 for 1 interception and was promptly traded later that week. So in week 7, 13th-round rookie Tom Owen started the game and performed reasonably well, but he was just the interim quarterback. That’s because in connection with the Reed trade, San Francisco acquired Norm Snead from the Giants, who sent Snead to San Francisco after acquiring Craig Morton from Dallas. Injuries and ineffectiveness limited Snead to just that one start for the 49ers in ’74, however, and Owen would go on to play (somewhat competently) for the remainder of the year.

  • Chase Stuart

    The 2014 Vikings join the list, with Matt Cassel (week 3), Teddy Bridgewater (week 4), and Christian Ponder (week 5) starting in a matter of 12 days.

  • Todd Malone

    The 2013 Packers joined this list last year with Aaron Rodgers-Seneca Wallace-Scott Tolzien. And they might have joined the 1974 49ers with 4 qbs in four weeks if they could have gotten Matt Flynn sooner. Flynn replaced Tolzien in his second start.