Thursday, December 6, 2012
What to expect from Ben Roethlisberger
By Jamison Hensley
Now that the Steelers announced Ben Roethlisberger will start Sunday against San Diego, the only uncertainty is how effective the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback will be.
Based on his history, Roethlisberger will need time to shake off the rust after missing three games with rib and shoulder injuries. When he's been sidelined at least one game with an injury, Roethlisberger has put up underwhelming numbers in his first game back, completing 61.1 percent of his passes and averaging 173.2 yards passing. He has thrown five touchdowns and six interceptions for a passer rating of 73.9.
There's been only one other time in Roethlisberger's nine-year career when he has missed multiple games due to injury. In 2005, Roethlisberger was sidelined three games with a knee injury. In his first game back, he threw for 133 yards in a loss at Indianapolis with one touchdown and two interceptions.
The biggest concern with Roethlisberger's latest injury is his arm strength. It's the reason Roethlisberger didn't play Sunday against the Ravens. But Roethlisberger has showed this season that he doesn't need to throw the ball deep to run Todd Haley's offense.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, 14 of Roethlisberger's 17 touchdown passes this season have been thrown 10 yards or fewer downfield. His average pass has gone 7.2 yards downfield this season. Only three quarterbacks -- Christian Ponder, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Philip Rivers -- have thrown for a shorter average.
There's no question that the Steelers are a better team with Roethlisberger at quarterback. With Roethlisberger, the Steelers averaged 23 points per game. Without him, Pittsburgh averaged 15.6 points and scored four offensive touchdowns in three games.