Battered Big Ben Stumbles Through Shaky Showing

The Pittsburgh Steelers laid another egg on the road for the second time in three tries this season, falling to the previously 1-4 Dolphins by a score of 30-15 that was not as close as the scoreboard actually would indicate.

Once again, a lot of that rough performance had to do with the play from the quarterback position, but this time, Ben Roethlisberger had an excuse. He suffered a left knee injury late in the first half on a play in which he scrambled away from a defender only to throw an interception, and he briefly left the game as a result.

He returned for the second half, only to throw another interception on another ill-advised throw, and his lone touchdown pass came with the game nearly already out of reach. The score made it an eight-point game, but the Steelers could not get the onside kick with about a minute to play and two timeouts. The Dolphins sealed things with a 62-yard touchdown run to follow.

Overall, Roethlisberger completed just 19 of 34 pass attempts for 189 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions, with the vast majority of that production coming with the game already slipping out of reach, late in the third quarter and into the fourth quarter.

On the Steelers’ final scoring drive alone, Roethlisberger completed eight of 10 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, and he added another two completions on four attempt for nine yards on the final drive after Miami scored again.

In other words, prior to the team’s final scoring drive, Roethlisberger had completed just nine of 20 passes for 83 yards and two interceptions. By that point, the Dolphins defense was already playing highly conservatively, trying not to risk giving up a deep play. The only deep completion on that entire scoring drive was the 23-yard touchdown pass into the end zone for Cobi Hamilton.

It needs to be said, of course, that Roethlisberger was not playing particularly well prior to his injury, either. He completed two of three passes for 10 yards on the opening drive, with an incompletion on third down. He went two-for-two for 15 yards on the next drive, which ended in a 60-yard rushing touchdown.

He then went two-for-four for 20 yards, and then threw an interception on the one-play drive on which he was injured. The majority of his passing success came on underneath throws, with Le’Veon Bell leading with six receptions and Eli Rogers next up with four. Bell was the only receiver with at least 40 receiving yards in the game.

It wasn’t all on Roethlisberger, of course. The Dolphins’ pass rush was productive, notching a couple of sacks and several pressures, but the Steelers were also playing with a wounded receiving group—as should be indicated by the fact that their lone passing touchdown went to a guy just called up from the practice squad. But Roethlisberger, both before and after his knee injury, was a contributing factor in the passing game’s struggles, and the injury will now have to be monitored going forward. He was seen limping badly in the locker room after the game.

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