Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger just played arguably one of the worst games of his career—certainly one of the worst halves. While he only threw one interception, he had at least two other throws that were dropped by defenders, and he had two balls batted down as well. He muffed a center exchange, and those are just the glaringly obvious problems.
For the game, he completed just 20 of 38 pass attempts, with none of those incompletions being drops (a rarity), completing just 52.6 percent of his passes. He threw for just 170 yards, averaging an anemic 4.5 yards per attempt, with one touchdown pass to pair with his 10th interception of the season.
Among the many failings in the game was his terrible performance down the field. He completed just one pass out of 12 attempts thrown 10 or more yards down the field, and that was his touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson on their opening drive of the third quarter, which went for 23 yards, one of just four total explosive plays on the day for the offense.
He was also off the mark on all of his deep-ball attempts, including a late attempt on 3rd and 10 to Chase Claypool that the officials in hindsight insisted should have been flagged for pass interference. Perhaps they had a point, but the throw was still poor.
But how much of this has to do with his throwing arm? After all, he did tear three tendons in his throwing elbow about 15 months ago, and he has attempted more passes this season than anybody else in the NFL.
He was asked after the game by Aditi Kinkhabwala if he truly feels 100 percent in his arm. “I don’t think anybody that plays this game at any level, at any position, in week 16 feels 100 percent, so I would say, no, I don’t feel 100 percent”, he said. “But nobody does right now”.
I mean, of course he’s not going to feel 100 percent. I don’t think any quarterback who has thrown hundreds of passes is going to say that their arm feels 100 percent. That doesn’t mean that your arm can’t do what it’s supposed to be doing.
But can Roethlisberger’s arm do what it’s supposed to be doing? It really hasn’t been in recent weeks, and in certain areas, it hasn’t been all season. At this point, the limitations of this offense are pretty well established. But they have to figure out a way to work around them.