Ben Roethlisberger Played Winning Football (Just Not Enough)

This article is exactly what it says on the tin. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played a great game on Sunday. The only thing wrong with it—other than the sack that he took—was that he didn’t play enough of it, and the fact that he could have played more than he did.

The fact of the matter is that Roethlisberger’s showing against the Oakland Raiders defense—admittedly one of the worst in the league—was statistically one of his best of the year. He completed 25 of his 29 pass attempts for a completion percentage of 86.2, throwing for 282 yards to average 9.7 yards per attempt. He tossed two touchdown passes and led three touchdown drives and two field goal-range drives during his six possessions.

The only blemish was the opening drive, six-play, three-minute possession that ultimately spanned just 20 yards and resulted in the only punt by Jordan Berry while Roethlisberger was on the field. Five of his six possessions ended either with a touchdown in the end zone or a field goal attempt by Chris Boswell, and, well, you know how the latter two possessions went.

Those two possessions ended on the Raiders’ 21- and 22-yard lines, respectively, very much makeable field goal range. The Steelers did not ask Boswell to do anything that should not be routinely expected of even an average NFL kicker. Roethlisberger produced six drives that were worthy of 27 points—4.5 points per possession, which is excellent—which would have been enough to win the game, even with him missed about 25 minutes in the game.

Considering, frankly, how much a part of the problem Roethlisberger had been lately, throwing six interceptions in the three games prior to Sunday, his excellent showing against even a bad Raiders defense on the road is still something to hang your hat on.

The offense moved the ball very well with him on the field. Their three touchdown drives spanned 67, 53, and 75 yards, respectively, while the two drives that he put them into field goal range spanned 54 (aided by 30 in penalties) and 48 yards (in just one play).

With Joshua Dobbs on the field? His four possessions combined produced 64 yards, and resulted in two punts, a turnover on downs, and an interception that should have ended a play earlier with a strip sack that was ruled an incompletion on the field and was not conclusive enough to overturn.

The fact that the offense was so productive with Roethlisberger on the field makes it all the more maddening and frustrating that he was held off for such a long period of time in the game. It’s not unreasonable to say that it’s the biggest reason that they lost, even though his efforts while in the game still should have been enough to win.

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