There was certainly a time in Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s career in which he was frequently under duress. The team, who had a very strong offensive line when he came into the league, gradually let it erode in the early tenure of Mike Tomlin’s regime, but they have since rebuilt it, arguably better than ever.
While the quality of protection in front of Roethlisberger may not have remained consistent over the years, however, what has remained consistent has been his ability to perform under pressure. And I don’t mean the abstract notion of needing to accomplish something. I mean literally facing pressure, from a pass rusher.
According to Pro Football Focus, in fact, he has been among the best in the league over the course of the past decade-plus, dating back to 2006, which they refer to as the Pro Football Focus era, since that is when they began recording data.
Posting a graphic yesterday, their data shows that Roethlisberger has since 2006 posted a quarterback rating of 77.6 when he has been under pressure, meaning either being hurried or hit by a pass rusher. Obviously being sacked is not going to generate a passer rating, since there is no pass.
It’s no surprise that Big Ben has been oblivious to pressure over the past five seasons pic.twitter.com/WqAh90wbxZ
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 2, 2017
That is the third-best ranking in their database, and if you were wondering who was ahead of him, it was Russell Wilson of the Seahawks with a 78.1 passer rating, and Aaron Rodgers at the top of the list with a passer rating of 80.6. behind him were Tony Romo at 74.6 and…well, they didn’t post a number five player. Perhaps only four had a rating above 70?
This is a very inexact measure, but I plugged in some numbers into a passer rating calculator just to give you a ballpark idea of what sort of numbers that Roethlisberger has put up over the years, since I don’t have access to the actual numbers that they are using.
According to my trial and error work, completing 96 of 150 pass attempts for 943 yards with 16 touchdowns and 20 interceptions would generate a quarterback rating of 77.58, very much in the ballpark of what Roethlisberger posted.
Of course, there is a lot of adjusting that can be done. Most likely, given the pressure situation, the completion percentage would be lower than the 64 percent that I projected above, and the 6.3 yards per attempt may be a bit higher or lower, but this is just to give you a general idea.
It shouldn’t be surprising that these are not traditionally exceptional numbers. These are the numbers produced on the plays in which Roethlisberger is under pressure; when the defense is successfully doing its job.
For a quarterback to have that kind of success while still getting into the backfield and even getting a hit on him has to be demoralizing. But Roethlisberger has literally made a career out of it, and done it nearly as well as anybody.