When Roethlisberger Connects, Steelers Finish Strong


The Steelers have strung together a nice string of wins – three to be exact.  Those last three games that the Steelers have won this season, they’ve been ahead quite handily by halftime.  During Week 5 & 6 the second half was such a different story.  The Steelers continually failed to hold on and finish strong each of those games.  This week, however, was a different story – and Big Ben was the sole reason for that difference.

In the games against the Titans and the Jaguars, the Steelers offense, and more specifically Ben Roethlisberger got off to a hot start in the first half.  Big Ben threw for over 100 yards in the first quarter in each of those games.  The second half in those games saw a much cooler and inconsistent Ben.  There are those out there that argue the running game leads to the passing game, but Ben’s gunslinging in the first half led to big yards from the running backs.  Once Ben cooled off, defenses committed more guys to the box and began slowing the running game – thus keeping the Steelers to many three and outs and leaving the door open for comebacks.

Yesterday, Roethlisberger stayed consistent for the most part and continued scrambling and connecting with his receivers.  The Steelers gained 26 first downs and were a decent 50% on 3rd down conversions.  I’m not a big fan of the QB rating – but Ben was over 120 for the day.  He was only sacked twice for a loss of seven yards and did not give up an interception for the second game in a row.  A good solid game overall from the big guy.

He still struggled to connect with his receivers on deep routes.  Interesting stats: he’s completed less than 25% of his passes between 20-40 yards deep.  Surprisingly, he’s connected 3 out of 4 of passes over 40 yards.  It’s unclear why he continues to overthrow receivers like Brown and Sanders (and sometimes Wallace).  Is he not throwing enough to these guys during practice.  Wallace may be faster – but the three of them have similar 40 times… at least close enough that he shouldn’t be overthrowing these guys by 5+ yards.  It appears that there is a bit of communication issues sometimes – Ben’s expecting them to pickup the blitz and make route adjustments.  And, that will improve over time.

But one thing is for sure: as long as Ben Roethlisberger connects with his receivers for a full 60 minutes, the Steelers win – handily.  We can get into the defense being the ones this time to allow a team to come back a bit during the 4th quarter later this week.  But, Big Ben and the Steelers offense continued to produce yards and move the sticks – giving them a time of possession of over 35 minutes, which helped keep the Cardinals offense and Larry Fitz. off the field.

If Ben can continue to perform well in the second half after the hot starts in the first, this team has one hell of a chance to beat New England AND Baltimore to take a very commanding lead in the AFC North…. woah, did I really just say that?!  Awesome!