One thing that stuck out statistically Sunday night in the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19 loss to the Denver Broncos was the play once again of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on third downs.
If you have heard or seen the clips that are floating around after the Sunday night game, you likely saw the post-game exchange between Roethlisberger and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. During that exchange Manning told Roethlisberger, "Good job on third downs, tonight."
I have written many a post on how good of quarterback that Roethlisberger is on third down, so it is no surprise that he once again thrived in this area and was the sole reasons that the Steelers were able to possess the ball as long as they did Sunday night. As bad as the game seemed to go, the Steelers still had a chance to win it with 3 minutes left in regulation and you can thank Roethlisberger for that.
Roethlisberger was a cool 11-of-15 passing Sunday night on 3rd downs for 132 yards and two touchdowns. That equates to a 73.3% completion rating and a 139.4 passer rating. 10 of the 11 completions resulted in either a first down or a touchdown.
On 8 of the total 17 third downs that Roethlisberger dropped back to pass, he faced 9 yards or more to go for the first down.
On third downs for his career, Roethlisberger has a 61.6% completion rate and a 90.9 passer rating. Dating back to 2004, his rookie season, 47% of his third down passes have resulted in either first downs or touchdowns. That ranks him third overall when stacked against quarterbacks that have attempted 500 or more third down passes dating back to 2004. The two ahead of him are Manning (50%) and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (49%). Also when stacked up to the other quarterbacks based on the 500 attempt criteria, Roethlisberger ranks third overall in third down passing yardage behind only Brees and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
Now we all know what the overall quality of what the offensive line has been since Roethlisberger came into the league, so it makes his accomplishments even more astounding.
With the 2012 season now underway, it is good to see that "Third Down Ben" is at it again. That third down quality that he has will give the Steelers a chance in every game that they play this season.