By Matthew Marczi
In light of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s injury a year ago, many commenters have suggested that the veteran signal caller was having perhaps the best year of his career, and an MVP-caliber one at that.
It is no secret that he struggled upon his return in the last four games of the season, so I thought it would be interesting to revisit the first half of the 2012 season to see just what kind of numbers Roethlisberger was putting up.
By the end of the year, Roethlisberger finished with 3265 passing yards, completing 284 of 449 passes for a completion percentage of 63.3. He averaged 7.3 yards per attempt, throwing 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions with a quarterback rating of 97.
2287 of those yards came in the first eight and a half games of the season, as did 17 of the touchdowns. Just four of his eight interceptions came in that time. He also completed 209 of 316 passes for a completion percentage of 66.1, although his yards per attempt was slightly lower at 7.2.
So what would those numbers from the first eight and a half games look like if projected across a full season—a supposed MVP-caliber season?
Maintaining the same pace that he sustained prior to his injury, Ben Roethlisberger would have thrown for 4305 yards, which would have been 23 yards short of his career-high set in 2009. He would have thrown for 32 touchdowns, tying his career-high set in 2007, and just eight interceptions, which would have been shy of only his 2010 mark, during which he missed the first four games.
On the other hand, Roethlisberger threw a touchdown on 5.4 percent of his passes prior to his injury; yet he finished with a touchdown percentage of 5.8. He also threw for a higher percentage of touchdowns in three other years.
On the positive end, he threw an interception on just 1.3 percent of his passes prior to injury, despite finishing the year throwing an interception on 1.8 of his passes. That 1.3 percent would have been the best season total for his career—even better than his 2010 season in which he threw just five interceptions in 389 attempts.
Roethlisberger’s pre-injury totals amounted to a quarterback rating of 100. He only twice reached a quarterback rating of 100 or greater during his career, topped by a 104.1 rating in 2007.
Given the fact that Roethlisberger and many of the other players on the offense were supposedly not in sync with offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s new system—not to mention the instability at running back and along the offensive line—it is not unreasonable to suspect that his tenth season may be the best yet in his career.