Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been under fire this offseason, being criticized for his leadership skills and his handling of a variety situations. But last season he put a lot of defenses under fire, putting up some of the biggest passing numbers of his career, setting new highs in completions, yardage, and touchdowns.
So it’s no surprise to read that he was also among the league leaders in what Pro Football Focus calls ‘big-time throws’, finishing second with 42 over the course of the season, second only to Patrick Mahomes, who threw over 5000 yards with 50 touchdowns.
Ben Roethlisberger threw 42 big-time throws a season ago, the second-most among QBs in 2018. pic.twitter.com/UUNjTslUaV
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 19, 2019
As I have previously written about, Roethlisberger led the league in big-time throws from a clean pocket—it helps that he had the most throws from a clean pocket—with 30, so the majority of his big-time throws came when he wasn’t under pressure.
As I explained in the previous article, the ‘big-time throw’ is obviously not an official statistic and is subject to the interpretation of the observer, but there is a link in that article that goes into some of the nuances of how they classify such a throw.
Generally, it’s about the quality of the pass and the degree of difficulty, hitting a receiver in-stride on a deep throw, under pressure, things like that. a big-time throw also isn’t necessarily a big-time completion, as such a pass can be dropped.
On another note, PFF also considered Roethlisberger among the best passers on second down last season, finishing with the fourth-best overall grade on second-down throws. Of course, the site graded Roethlisberger 17th overall in passing grade.
Big Ben had the NFL’s fourth-highest passing grade on 2nd down last year pic.twitter.com/VZWGL6kVkO
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 18, 2019
Overall, he attempted 232 passes on second down last season, completing 166 of them for a strong completion percentage of 716. That translated into 1832 passing yards, averaging 7.9 yards per pass attempt, throwing nine touchdowns to five interceptions. He posted a 98.6 passer rating.
JuJu Smith-Schuster caught 40 of the 53 targets he saw from Roethlisberger for 551 yards, the completions and receiving yards being the most, along with one touchdown. On 54 targets, Antonio Brown caught 37 passes on second down for 445 yards, but with five touchdowns. Jaylen Samuels also had two touchdowns, and the other belonged to Jesse James.
On third down, Roethlisberger completed 102 of 158 pass attempts for 1135 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions, averaging 7.2 yards per attempt, with a quarterback rating of 91.1. Nobody had more third-down receiving yards than Vance McDonald, but having a 75-yard touchdown helps. It’s worth noting that only 98 of those completions generated a first down.
On first down, the quarterback completed 177 of 276 pass attempts for 2061 yards with 15 touchdowns and five interceptions, averaging 7.5 yards per attempt with a passer rating of 97.2. He attempted only nine passes on fourth down, completing seven for 58 yards (six for a first down) with no touchdowns or interceptions and a passer rating of 93.5 with 6.4 yards per reception. Only one of his nine attempts were deep passes (15 or more yards through the air) and that was completed for 19 yards on fourth and 15.