There seems to be narrative floating around about Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that centers around him not only throwing deep too often on third and short, but also that he’s inaccurate when doing so. So, let’s have a look at that based on what has happened so far this season.
For starters, Roethlisberger is 5-of-10 passing this season for 269 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions on deep passes (15 yards or more) thrown when the offense is facing a third down of 3 yards or less. Additionally, two more passes were attempted that meet that criteria and while both were incomplete, one resulted in a pass interference call for a gain of 29 yards while the other was ruled a no play because of a defensive offsides.
Now let’s look at the other five completions as I have the gifs of all of those plays.
Two of Roethlisberger’s deep incompletions that fit the aforementioned down and distance criteria came in the regular season opener against the New England Patriots. The first appeared to be a miscommunication between Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown on a back-shoulder throw while the second is a pass that wide receiver Markus Wheaton probably should’ve caught even though it was slightly overthrown.
In the Steelers game against the Oakland Raiders, Roethlisberger again had a deep pass incompletion on a third and short and on this one he overthrew Brown, who had clearly beaten his defender.
The only other two deep pass incompletions on third and short that Roethlisberger has had so far this year came against the Seattle Seahawks and both went to wide receiver Martavis Bryant. The first one was a great pass that went right through Bryant’s hands. The second one, while underthrown, probably should’ve been caught by Bryant as well as he did get both hands on it as he was going to the ground.
Now, if you want to talk about deep passes on third downs with 4 or 5 yards to go, Roethlisberger has indeed had his issues in those situations as he’s completed just 1-of-7 attempts for 41 yards in those situations. 3 of those passes, however, came in the game against the Indianapolis Colts and all of them were throws to the end zone. In fact, 2 of them were great throws that probably should’ve been caught by Darrius Heyward-Bey and Bryant respectively.