When it comes to the topic of interceptions, it’s not uncommon for a quarterback to take it a bit personal. Especially when that quarterback is a veteran and he’s pretty close to the league lead in that category, as is the case with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger, who is playing in his 15th season.
Roethlisberger, who has thrown five interceptions in just the past two games, has now thrown 12 on the season, and his interception numbers have been elevated since 2015, averaging over 14 per season from 2015 through 2017 and on pace to match that once again. Only New York Jets rookie Sam Darnold has thrown more interceptions, though Big Ben’s interception percentage actually ranks 21st. Patrick Mahomes has a worse interception percentage, for the record. But nobody has as many as Roethlisberger’s four red-zone picks this year, the second-most he has ever had.
“I’d have to go back and look at each one, but I look at the red zone and the last one and that’s kind of crazy”, he said of the number during his radio appearance yesterday, referring to the Shelby Harris interception in the end zone. “I think [Jalen Ramsey] made a great play the week before. I know in Atlanta there was probably one at the end of the half where you just try to make a play. Sometimes you’re trying to make plays; sometimes guys just make plays”.
“I can’t control that a d-lineman gets blocked into a ball. I can’t control when a DB like Ramsey makes a play on AB”, he said. “I obviously can control at the end of the half when I throw the ball up for AB to make a play, but we talked about it after that game. I’m not gonna even take that back because he’s one of the best in the business, and I’m gonna give him a chance”.
In the latter example against the Falcons, Roethlisberger threw in tight coverage to Brown on consecutive plays, the latter into double or perhaps even triple coverage, which resulted in the ball being intercepted. He also had a red-zone interception early in the season opener against the Cleveland Browns.
“When it comes to the interceptions, you know, things happen”, he said of his overall interception numbers. “We have a play where AB gets grabbed and that slows him down so the guy ends up making a play. Sometimes those things happen. I’m a quarterback that’s gonna go out and sling it. You talk about gunslinger, whatever you want to talk about. I’m not gonna worry about interceptions. I hate doing them. They bother me. But I’m gonna go out and play my game, and try and help us win football games”.
It’s worth noting that between the second game of the season and the ninth, he only threw four interceptions over an eight-game span. Having two three-interception games under his belt certainly doesn’t help his numbers. But that’s not going to stop him from being a slinger.