Is 30 Passing Attempts Or Less The Magic Number For Roethlisberger?

Interesting talk this morning on Trib Live Radio as to the record of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was discussed when he throws over a certain amount of times during a game. I researched Pro Football Reference to pull his regular season stats since 2004 and have them below sorted by attempts below with the cutoff of games in which he passed 31 or more times.

The magic number with Roethlisberger appears to be 30 or less attempts a game as he is 51-9 during the regular season when throwing 30 times or less and 18-22 when throwing more than 30 times. Breaking it down farther above 30 attempts, Roethlisberger is 8-14 when he throws 35 or more times during the regular season.

Now of course the argument will be that he has to throw more when he is behind. The last two columns represent the score after 3 quarters and whether or not the Steelers were ahead, behind or tied at that time. When they were ahead, the Steelers were 2-2 when Roethlisberger threw 31 or more times in a game. 6-15 when trailing after 3 quarters and 2-4 when entering the 4th quarter tied. Only 8 times were the Steelers and Roethlisberger down more than a touchdown entering the 4th quarter and they lost all 8 times in these games based on this stat. He was 6-7 when only down a touchdown or less in these games.

There are a few more variables involved such as run/pass balance through the first 3 quarters and how effective the running game was up until the 4th quarter, but it can not be ignored that the Steelers are less than .500 when he has to throw 31 more a times in a game. I will dig this down further in a future post after I compile more stats. I also plan on comparing this around the league as well.

YEARWEEKOPPSCORECOMPATTCOMP %YDSTDINTRATEYPA4QSB/A/T
2006 8 DEN L 20-31 38 54 70.40% 433 1 3 77.2 8.0 17-21 B
2010 9 NWE L 26-39 30 49 61.20% 387 3 1 97.9 7.9 3-23 B
2009 14 GNB W 37-36 29 46 63.00% 503 3 0 121.9 10.9 24-14 A
2010 14 NYJ L 17-22 23 44 52.30% 264 1 0 78.2 6.0 17-17 T
2006 10 CLE W 24-20 25 44 56.80% 272 2 3 61.9 6.2 3-10 B
2009 1 TEN W 13-10 33 43 76.70% 363 1 2 89.6 8.4 7-7 T
2009 10 KAN L 24-27 32 42 76.20% 398 3 2 109.0 9.5 17-17 T
2008 9 IND L 20-24 29 41 70.70% 280 0 3 59.0 6.8 17-17 T
2005 12 CIN L 31-38 29 41 70.70% 386 3 3 94.2 9.4 24-31 B
2006 11 BAL L 0-27 21 41 51.20% 214 0 2 46.2 5.2 0-24 B
2008 10 SDG W 11-10 31 41 75.60% 308 0 0 96.4 7.5 7-8 B
2011 1 BAL L 7-35 22 41 53.70% 280 1 3 52.9 6.8 7-32 B
2008 5 JAX W 26-21 26 41 63.40% 309 3 1 100.6 7.5 20-14 A
2008 14 BAL W 13-9 22 40 55.00% 246 1 0 81.9 6.2 3-9 B
2009 9 CIN L 12-18 20 40 50.00% 174 0 1 51.5 4.4 9-12 B
2008 15 TEN L 14-31 25 39 64.10% 329 2 2 86.4 8.4 14-17 B
2006 3 CIN L 20-28 18 39 46.20% 208 0 3 30.7 5.3 17-14 A
2010 12 BAL W 13-10 22 38 57.90% 253 1 1 75.9 6.7 3-10 B
2006 7 OAK L 13-20 25 37 67.60% 301 1 4 61.7 8.1 6-13 B
2007 6 DEN L 28-31 24 35 68.60% 290 4 2 108.0 8.3 14-28 B
2009 2 CHI L 14-17 23 35 65.70% 221 1 1 80.8 6.3 14-7 A
2009 6 CLE W 27-14 23 35 65.70% 417 2 1 113.6 11.9 24-14 A
2007 9 CLE W 31-28 23 34 67.60% 278 2 1 99.9 8.2 16-21 B
2007 2 BUF W 26-3 21 34 61.80% 242 1 1 80.8 7.1 19-3 A
2009 15 BAL W 23-20 17 33 51.50% 259 1 1 75.2 7.9 20-20 T
2008 13 DAL W 20-13 17 33 51.50% 204 1 0 80.9 6.2 3-13 B
2008 12 NWE W 33-10 17 33 51.50% 179 2 1 75.2 5.4 23-10 A
2009 4 SDG W 38-28 26 33 78.80% 333 2 0 128.9 10.1 28-7 A
2010 11 BUF W 19-16 20 33 60.60% 246 0 0 83.6 7.5 13-7 A
2010 13 CIN W 23-7 21 33 63.60% 258 0 0 87.7 7.8 13-7 A
2007 4 ARI L 14-21 17 32 53.10% 244 2 2 72.9 7.6 7-7 T
2006 2 JAX L 0-9 17 32 53.10% 141 0 2 38.7 4.4 0-3 B
2007 13 NWE L 13-34 19 32 59.40% 187 1 0 86.3 5.8 13-31 B
2007 14 JAX L 22-29 15 32 46.90% 142 3 0 90.9 4.4 7-22 B
2009 13 CLE L 6-13 18 32 56.30% 201 0 0 75.1 6.3 6-13 B
2007 12 CIN W 24-10 21 32 65.60% 184 2 2 75.5 5.8 24-10 A
2010 15 CAR W 27-3 22 32 68.80% 320 1 0 111.5 10.0 27-0 A
2006 4 SDG L 13-23 20 31 64.50% 220 0 2 58.5 7.1 13-17 B
2006 15 BAL L 7-31 15 31 48.40% 156 1 2 47.2 5.0 7-21 B
2009 3 CIN L 20-23 22 31 71.00% 276 1 1 95.6 8.9 20-9 A

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Steve Duncan

    This has come up several times over the years, and while there is something to it, I think it is more that 30 or less is the magic number for the Steelers than just for Ben. Ben can handle the extra passes, it’s not like he suddenly becomes terrible after 30 attempts. But, aside from the trailing thing you addressed above, there is also to consider:

    1) The effectiveness of the run game overall – if teams are shutting down the run and forcing the Steelers to pass, they also don’t have to respect the run quite as much once the Steelers abandon the run.
    2) TOP – passing a lot doesn’t eat up clock, which leaves our older defense on the field (they have been older for a few years), which then leads to more big plays and points given up
    3) Steelers Ball – The Steelers like to get up early and grind the game out with the run. If that doesn’t happen and they are passing late, something went wrong…
    4) Effectiveness of the defense overall – some games, even when they weren’t behind, we so called shootouts (even if they weren’t high scoring there was a lot of back and forth), and they kept passing to try to keep up

    All that said, I think it is important for them to try to keep it around 30 or less, but more as an overall gameplan thing than as a pitch count for Ben.

  • Thomas

    I would argue that it has more to do with our O line which has been one of the worst if not the worst O line in the league every year for atleast 4-5 years. They need to be run blocking to be effective, if they don’t keep the defense honest and the other team is T-ing of them every play the effectiveness obviously goes down. it’s one of the most obvious and harped on aspects of football ever. That’s exactly why I hate that 5 WR (or 4 WR 1 TE) set so much, I would love to see an article about the stats we have in 5 wides in the game…seems like as long as I have seen that formation in it leads to disaster more often then not. if you wanna pass more then 35 times a game you keep a back in every play like the pats like to do and bunch 3 to one side, there is still always the threat of the draw or the screen on every play and you can still run a short play action if you want and run screens off that. You can also make much better protection adjustments. would be even better if batch wasn’t hurt or had a real Danny Woodhead, sprolls type. we have good pass blockers but it’s not like more has the speed of the wiggle of those guys.