It is one thing to talk about something and another to show it. For the past two weeks, I have talked up the fact that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is more frequently hitting throws that he had not been earlier this season.
That’s fine and all, but without visual evidence, such a claim will simply be either accepted or rejected based on the reader’s bias. I do believe that Roethlisberger has been making higher-quality throws lately, throws that few quarterbacks can hit with any kind of consistency, and below are some examples of such.
Not every throw is rewarded, of course, and a couple of his passes that I wanted to feature here demonstrate that. The Steelers had an odd early rash of drops in the game, but Roethlisberger doesn’t get penalized in this exercise because of that. this early throw to Martavis Bryant found him in space that would have at least set up first and goal, if not scored.
Just a handful of plays later, he threw a pass to Justin Hunter on second and goal from the two that definitely should have gone for six. Roethlisberger made sure to throw the back shoulder to where only his receiver could get it. Despite having two hands on it, however, he couldn’t secure it to the ground.
Of course there was no shortage of successful hits, either. He would pair up with Bryant again midway through the second from 17 yards out, delivering a textbook arcing ball clear over the defender and into the basket of the receiver’s just for the touchdown.
He followed it up with another fine play, including before the pass, on the two-point conversion, using a hesitation fake to help bait the cornerback as Antonio Brown slipped around him for the smooth connection and a tie game at 14.
One of the nicest passes all season was the fade score to Brown at the end of the third quarter. This is what the kids refer to as dropping dimes, putting it right on the money for the receiver to lap up. Of course, because of the separation, it was virtually uncontested on air.
Funnily enough, I’m not even going to talk about the 23-yarder at the end of the game. I want to wrap this up taking a look at this third-and-six conversion in the fourth quarter, one which Roethlisberger was able to hit Eli Rogers in stride. He has been hitting receivers on the move better lately.
He has been doing virtually everything better lately, really, but most important is the fact that he is making what Mike Tomlin would call the ‘necessary plays’, hitting windows and angles of a higher degree of difficulty that separate failed plays from successful ones, and successful ones from explosive one.