Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has managed to do some fairly remarkable things this year, starting with leading the team to an 8-4 record when he was on the field. The Steelers went just 2-2 in the games that he missed. He also came up just shy of 4000 passing yards in spite of the fact that he missed four entire games, plus parts of several others.
He has led the league in yards per game for the past two seasons, and this year posted the third-highest number ever in that category with 328.2 yards per game. He threw for 3938 yards, and had he played every game, that would have prorated out to a season of 5251 yards, the third-most in a single season of all time.
He also posted the highest completion percentage of his career, ticking in at just around 68 percent, which topped his previous best of 67.1 from just las season. But in other ways he was the least efficient that he has been in years.
Roethlisberger threw just 21 touchdown passes this year in 12 games, after throwing 32 last season. on 469 passes attempts, 4.5 percent of passes as touchdowns is the lowest figure in that category that he has posted since 2011, and the fifth-lowest of his career overall.
Even more concerning is the fact that he threw the second-most interceptions that he ever has, even while missing a quarter of the season. his 16 interceptions was only bested by the clear outlier of 23 interceptions in 2006, the year in which he had an offseason motorcycle accident, an emergency appendectomy, and a concussion.
More to the point, however, his 3.4 percent of passes as interceptions was also the third-highest figure of his career, behind only the aforementioned 2006 season and his rookie year. He has only posted five total figures of over five percent in his career, and the over four were all within his first five seasons.
What does it say about his performance this year, then, that he has been playing some of his least efficient ball ever in terms of scoring and protecting the ball, in spite of the fact that he has been able to put up some eye-popping passing numbers?
After all, just last season he had the best season of his career, posting a 32-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and still put up nearly 5000 yards while leading the league in yards per game, averaging over eight yards per pass attempt.
Obviously, Roethlisberger has dealt with multiple injuries this year, which surely will have played its role in these numbers, although he had only four touchdowns (two of them essentially in garbage time) and two interceptions during the first two-plus games before his injury.
It hasn’t exactly been getting better. Seven of his 16 interceptions have come in just the past four games, and he has only thrown six touchdowns in that span. He had his best game of the season the week before that with four touchdowns and no interceptions, but it is clear that the Steelers need a much sharper Ben Roethlisberger to make any kind of dent in the postseason.