Somewhat lost in the aftermath of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ perplexing last-second loss to the heretofore winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the fact that the team’s franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, had a strong game, despite taking five sacks and losing a fumble on one of them that resulted in seven points the other way.
He finished the day with his highest passer rating thus far of the season, throwing for over 300 yards with three touchdown passes while completing nearly three quarters of his throws. And lest we forget, he was the victim of several dropped passes.
Roethlisberger had a high completion percentage last week, and threw for two touchdowns, but he also had a somewhat inefficient night in terms of moving down the field. He threw for under 200 yards on 30 pass attempts, averaging only 6.5 yards per attempt.
Yesterday, he averaged nearly eight yards per attempt, throwing for 314 yards on 40 passes. And it could have been a lot more without the drops.
If you go back to the Baltimore game, you see Roethlisberger misfiring on passes throughout the night en route to completing less than 60 percent of his passes. His receivers even helped him out at times.
While he did get some help yesterday, such as Antonio Brown’s second touchdown catch, the same Brown was also guilty of a pair of dropped passes himself. Justin Brown and Heath Miller also dropped a pass each, off the top of my head.
The quarterback’s accuracy, in other words, was superior to his actual completion percentage, and as attested to by the yards per attempt, it wasn’t all just sideways. The Steelers were able to get vertical some, even though they lacked polish on the home run ball.
After today, Roethlisberger has 1092 yards on the season, improving his touchdown to interception ratio to 6-2, though he did add a lost fumble to give him three total turnovers for the year.
His current completion percentage of 68.1 would be the best in his career, and his quarterback rating of 99.4 would rank third.
On the year, he is currently just under his career average of 7.8 yards per pass attempt, but he is also on pace to take more sacks than he has since the 2009 season, when he was dropped an unconscionable 50 times.
Also worth noting is that, after throwing an interception in each of the first two games, he has gone without for the last two. His two interceptions on 141 passing attempts is the best ratio in a season thus far in his career, by a good margin.
Though, by that same token, his touchdowns per pass ratio is also about half of what it was a season ago, when he set a franchise record with 28 touchdown passes. He got off to a slow start by throwing only one in the first two games, but he now has five in the last two. With the way the defense has been holding up, that upward trajectory must continue.