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Ben Roethlisberger Not His Normal Self This Season On Third Downs


Since coming into the league in 2004, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has always been regarded as a clutch third down quarterback. In fact, heading into this season, he had the 5th highest third down completion ratio dating back to 2004 when compared to other quarterbacks that have had 600 or more attempts over the course of those nine seasons. In addition, his 46.7% third down conversion ratio of all passing attempts ranks him third on that same list of 25 quarterbacks. This season, however, Roethlisberger has seen a dip in his third down production.

Heading into the Week 16 game against the Green Bay Packers, Roethlisberger has completed only 58.5% of all third down passes and that’s his lowest percentage since 2009 when he completed just 56.8% of all third down attempts. In addition, only 69.6% of Roethlisberger’s completed third down passes this season have resulted in a first down or a touchdown. In 2009, that number was 77.3% and you have to go all the way back to Roethlisberger’s second year in the league to find a lower percentage.

Now, I am in no way suggesting that Roethlisberger is “losing it” when it comes to his statistical drop on third downs as so many variables are involved here, but it is something definitely to dig deeper into after the season is over. Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley will only meet with the media one more time this season, assuming of course they don’t make the playoffs, and it would be interesting to hear if he has any thoughts on Roethlisberger’s dip as far as third downs go.

Ben Roethlisberger Career Third Down Passing Stats

YEAR COMP ATT COMP% YDS TD INT SK YPA FD/TD FD/TD%
2013 79 135 58.5% 929 8 3 18 6.9 55 69.6%
2012 75 124 60.5% 918 10 1 14 7.4 59 78.7%
2011 87 140 62.1% 1211 7 3 13 8.7 73 83.9%
2010 70 108 64.8% 939 8 1 18 8.7 54 77.1%
2009 75 132 56.8% 998 7 5 23 7.6 58 77.3%
2008 81 140 57.9% 980 5 6 24 7.0 60 74.1%
2007 84 130 64.6% 1177 13 6 17 9.1 68 81.0%
2006 89 140 63.6% 1109 6 9 16 7.9 65 73.0%
2005 47 83 56.6% 581 4 4 8 7.0 31 66.0%
2004 66 104 63.5% 847 7 3 15 8.1 46 69.7%
TOTALS 753 1236 60.9% 9689 75 41 166 7.8 569 75.6%

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About Dave Bryan

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

    It seems to be a normal variation if you analyse carefully. 2005, 2008 and 2009 he was worse than 2013. This year he is just below the average.

  • mem359

    Heath Miller? Wondering how much of a difference there is with and without a pass catching tight end able to go over the middle.

  • Joe Longo

    Or Hines for that matter. How many drops has Sanders and Wheaton had on 3rd downs?

  • JAMESH

    After reading the article, that was the first thing that popped into my mind.

  • Brandon Krementz

    Well when you run WR Screen on every damn 3rd and 8+, you are going to complete a lot less third downs percentage wise.

  • Jacob Dixon

    Wheaton has never really seen the field on offense so you can’t blame him for any offensive struggles that the team has had

  • Elijah Stevenson

    Sanders is the problem not Wheaton because he’s been limited on the field, u really only c him on special teams

  • Elijah Stevenson

    Maybe Ben’s third down will increase because he’ll b facing a bad GB defense

  • Jeff

    This is based just off of observation and no statistical backup to this, but I feel like there were a lot of dropped passes this year on third down. My first thought was that drop that AB had that resulted in a tipped interception. No Heath Miller didn’t help either….

  • Rick M

    The one stat that is not provided – and that seems really important – is what is the average third-down distance he faced this year versus previous years. It’s a heck of a lot different if you’re facing an average of 3rd and 2, than an average of 3rd and 5.

    I would guess that he was facing a more manageable third-down distance in 2013 than in 2012 because of better overall protection and the presence of Le’veon Bell. If so, the dip in third-down passing production is a little more troubling. But without the relevant ‘down and distance’s stat versus previous years, it’s kind of hard to make a judgement.

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    Not only missing heath for some time but I can recall third down completions when the route was to short and the defender made a good tackle to hold the receiver short of the sticks. In addition, I bet there were more than a few 3rd down passes dropped that would have been conversions. Seems this year, we have dropped an unseemly number of passes , period.

  • cencalsteeler

    Lack of a run game and a lot of dropped passes probably pad that stat. But, the one that has me screaming at the TV are the low percentage throws. I don’t know how many times the Steelers are in third and manageable and Ben throws the deep ball to Sanders. Sanders is not a jump ball receiver. High percentage dump passes to Dwyer or Bell. Curl routes to AB or Heath. Will Johnson in the flats. Throwing the deep ball should be brought out on second and short, not third downs IMO.

  • Bob Loblaw

    He was fine last year without Hines.

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