I was curious to find out how many times Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sacked on 3rd down pass plays during the 2010 regular season and thought while I was at it, I would compile the same stats for all 32 teams to see where the Steelers ranked at in protecting the quarterback on 3rd downs. I had a feeling I knew what I would find and the results confirmed it.
The sortable table below shows that Steelers quarterbacks where sacked 24 times on 3rd down pass plays during the 2010 regular season. 17 of the 24 times it was Roethlisberger getting sacked with Charlie Batch next at 3 times, Dennis Dixon sacked 2 times on 3rd downs and Byron Leftwich just 1 time in his mop up job in week 17 against Cleveland. In all, a Steelers QB was sacked once every 7.5 3rd down pass plays. That was 2nd worst in league behind only the Bears.
Now this not one of these post to say the reason for these numbers is because Roethlisberger holds the ball too long. You are a fool to think that Ben is not one of the best quarterbacks in the league at extending plays. The flip side of those sacks is his first down conversion % on those 3rd down plays. Steelers quarterbacks (mostly Roethlisberger) converted 41% of all 3rd down pass plays compared to the Bears 34% (mostly Jay Cutler). In the 2010 Mike Martz offense, you can bet that Cutler didn\'t hold the ball very long either. Had Roethlisberger not been so lethal at converting these 3rd downs, it would have put even more pressure on the top notch Steelers defense and it surely would have cost some games along the way. The offensive line does not get off easy here either as it was porous at times in pass protection. The unit must improve in 2011.
Another thing that sticks out in these numbers is that the top 4 worst teams at allowing sacks on 3rd downs all made the playoffs. 3of the 4 teams had top notch defenses with the Eagles being slightly above average according to Football Outsiders. In addition, the Steelers, Bears and Ravens all had a healthy dose of explosive plays (plays of 20 yards or more) in 2010.
Wondering about the numbers on Ben in 2009? 171 3rd pass plays, sacked 23 times on 3rd down for a 7.4 P/S number. He also converted 64 of those 3rd downs into 1st downs at a 37% success rate. Pretty close to the 2010 team numbers. 2008? 194 3rd down passes and Roethlisberger was sacked 21 times on 3rd down for a 9.2 P/S number. He converted 77 of those 3rd down passes into 1st downs at a 40% success rate. He is a pretty consistent QB for sure. Imagine if the pass blocking improved just a bit. Even if it doesn\'t, you can bet Big Ben is the guy you want under center as your quarterback. He gets the job done.
Looking at the other end of the list you think the Cardinals, 49ers, Redskins and Panthers need quarterback help? Wow!
2010 NFL Regular Season 3rd Down Sacks Allowed & 3rd Down Pass Play Conversions