We’ve all seen Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger come through countless times when his back has been against the wall. The impressive amounts of comebacks and big plays from Big Ben have earned him a spot among the game’s elite quarterbacks.
We saw that again on Sunday night.
Despite a late interception that pretty much sealed the game, the Steelers wouldn’t have been in the game without the performance of Roethlisberger.
He finished the game with decent numbers, finishing 22-of-40 with 245 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but it was his performance in the clutch that kept the Steelers in the game. By clutch I’m referring to third downs, when the Steelers needed their franchise quarterback to make plays, and make plays he did.
Offensive coordinator Todd Haley did his quarterback no favors early on by putting Roethlisberger in countless third-and-long situations. Haley’s predictable play calling brought back memories of Steelers offenses of the past – run, run, pass and then punt. But the Steelers didn’t have Roethlisberger back in those days, so the results were much different.
Roethlisberger was next to automatic on third down, completing 11-of-15 passes for 132 yards and both of his touchdowns. Of the 15 third downs he was presented with, on eight of them the Steelers needed nine or more yards to convert.
That even prompted Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning to complement Roethlisberger’s third-down performance after the game.
Roethlisberger has been doing that his entire career.
Throughout his nine-year stint in Pittsburgh, Big Ben has completed 61.6 percent of his pass attempts on third down and has done so with a 90.9 passer rating. In addition, 47 percent of those pass attempts have resulted in either first downs or touchdowns.
Where does that rank Roethlisberger among the game’s signal callers?
Of quarterbacks who have at least 500 attempts on third down, Roethlisberger ranks only behind Manning (50 percent) and Drew Brees (49 percent). In terms of passing yardage on third down, Big Ben ranks only behind Brees and Eli Manning.
That puts Roethlisberger in elite company, especially considering the fact that he has had to do so with poor offensive line play throughout.
I would expect Haley’s play calling to get better in terms of putting the ball in Roethlisberger’s hands earlier and more often, but if he doesn’t, at least the Steelers have a guy who makes plays when he has to the most.
You hate to have be in so many third-and-long type of situations, but Big Ben has saved his best for those situations.
He’s proven it time and time again.
*Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference*