The Pittsburgh Steelers just lost one of their uglier games at home in years, and this time, you can really pin quite a bit of the blame squarely on the shoulders of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who threw five interceptions, the most that he has ever had in a single game over the course of his lengthy career.
What’s worse—far worse—is that two of those five interceptions were picked off and returned for touchdowns, first by linebacker Telvin Smith, whom Roethlisberger never saw (admittedly off of a pass that was deflected), and then by Barry Church, who had the ball batted to him by Jalen Ramsey on an overthrown deep ball.
The entire game was pockmarked by bad play, but it became spectacularly bad in the second half, with four of the interceptions featured after halftime. Although they took out Le’Veon Bell at the end, they did leave Roethlisberger to hand it off to James Conner a few times just to put the team out of its misery by running out the clock.
It’s beginning to feel as though the Steelers will not turn the proverbial corner on offense and become that potent unit that their individual talent suggests is possible, and much of that has to do with the performance from the quarterback position. With the current level of play, I don’t think there is even a corner to turn.
Roethlisberger attempted 55 passes against the top-ranked pass defense, who were also allowing the second-fewest yards per pass attempt. He did complete 33 of them, but an exceeding number of them were short passes for little gain.
Those 55 pass attempts yielded just 312 yards, which was still the most yards that he has thrown for in 11 games. In spite of the volume of attempts, the efficiency of his passes were low, as he averaged just 5.7 yards per attempt, which was exactly what the Jaguars were allowing coming in.
As implied above, this was the first 300-yard passing game for Roethlisberger during the regular season in the past 11 games. He has three 300-yard passing games, including the playoffs, over the past 15, however, and all three of those games have resulted in losses.
In only one of those three games did Roethlisberger ever put his team in a chance to win, that being the Dallas loss from a year ago, when he connected with Antonio Brown late for a go-ahead score. But in all three cases, his yardage total was padded by necessity, and prevent defensive coverage.
It is beginning become rather difficult to believe that the two-time Super Bowl champion has not significantly diminished, particularly over the course of the past season and a half. While there have been a few highlights, such as the Christmas Day comeback over the Ravens, his play on a down-to-down basis is now a concern.