Earlier this year, I made the decision to (make an attempt to) track the turnover-worthy throws this season. While that decision ended up facing some criticism, nobody actually bothered to comment on my first quarterly installment.
I ended up forgetting about this project in part because of that, but for now, here is the second quarter, covering Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s throws of this nature, running through the Jaguars game through the Lions game. I have identified eight plays here that I would like to discuss.
While he threw five interceptions against the Jaguars, a number of them included mitigating factors. In this first instance, because of a missed blitz pickup from James Conner, he was hit as he threw. Still, he should have pulled this ball down instead of forcing it on second down.
At the start of the second half, he was picked off by Telvin Smith after his pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage. Had the Steelers run Le’Veon Bell out into the flat, it could have placed Smith out of that throwing lane. Instead, he returned it for six.
Just a couple of minutes later, on third and 17, he overthrew Antonio Brown deep down the field. Jalen Ramsey was able to climb over the top, batting the ball down to his teammate, Barry Church, who also returned his interception for a score.
In the fourth quarter, as Roethlisberger was looking for JuJu Smith-Schuster, the rookie got tangled up with the cornerback and slipped. Obviously that was a compelling factor in this pass being intercepted, but that is not a window he was going to hit anyway with that throw.
The final interception was a product of his inability to look off the safety, who had his eyes to the backfield the entire play. Another pass that shouldn’t have been thrown.
A week later against the Chiefs, Roethlisberger had one more pass intercepted, but this was due to Brown stopping on an in-breaking route on third down when the quarterback expected him to continue on.
Finally, in week eight, Roethlisberger forced a ball to Brown into triple coverage for no compelling reason. Yet again, another throw he never should have attempted. This came out of 22 personnel on first down, so it’s no surprise the defense covered Brown as they did. The ball was delivered too deep and picked off by the safety.
Feel free to debate upon which of the above you believe to be throws that were truly worthy of a turnover, as I’m sure there won’t be universal agreement. The good news is that Roethlisberger has been trending in a positive direction since that Jaguars game, as we’ll see in the third installment next week.