Stats & Info: Ben Roethlisberger

Bell gashes Titans between the tackles

November, 18, 2014
Nov 18

AP Photo/Wade PayneLe'Veon Bell rushed for a career-high 204 yards in the Steelers' comeback win.
Le'Veon Bell became the first player to top 200 yards on the ground this season. Bell took it straight to the Tennessee Titans on Monday night and ran for 204 yards, including 196 between the tackles.

A big reason for Bell’s career night was a dominant performance by the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line, as 111 of the 204 yards came before contact.

Into the record books
For a team that historically ranks as a run-first team, this was just the fifth 200-yard rushing game in Steelers’ franchise history. Bell rushed for more yards Monday than either Franco Harris or Jerome Bettis ever did in a single game for Pittsburgh.

Bell also became the fifth player to run for 200 or more yards in a Monday Night Football game. He joined Bo Jackson (1987), Thurman Thomas (1990), Ricky Williams (2002) and Shaun Alexander (2006).

Unexpected output
In recent weeks, Bell had been more of a factor catching the ball than on rushes. In his previous four games, he had 215 yards on receptions and 205 yards on the ground.

His 33 rushes Monday were seven more than his previous career-high of 26, set in the Steelers’ second-to-last game of the past season.

The most recent time a Steeler running back carried that many times was in November 2010, when Rashard Mendenhall rushed 36 times in a win over the Buffalo Bills.

Bell averaged 6.2 yards per rush. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no other player in Steelers history has made that many carries in a game while averaging at least 6 yards per run.

Sprinting to the finish
Bell finished strong and racked up 74 yards in the fourth quarter. That's more than he had in total in five of his previous 10 games.

In the Steelers' final, clock-killing drive, they ran 12 plays. Eight of the plays were runs by Bell, including a stretch of six straight plays. The other four plays were two Ben Roethlisberger passes and two Roethlisberger kneel-downs.

Roethlisberger, Steelers focus on Jets

November, 4, 2014
Nov 4
Ben RoethlisbergerJustin K. Aller/Getty ImagesBen Roethlisberger has thrown for six touchdowns in each of his last two games.
Sunday’s game between the Steelers and the Jets has all the makings of a mismatch of epic proportions. Based on Ben Roethlisberger’s historic performance the last two weeks and the season-long struggles of the Jets’ pass defense, the stats strongly support the Steelers.

Through the first six weeks of the season, the Steelers were 3-3 and averaged 20.6 points per game (23rd in NFL). Roethlisberger had as many games with a sub-45 Total QBR as he had with a QBR greater than 65 (two each). In the last three games, however, Roethlisberger has averaged more than 375 pass yards per game and became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw six touchdown passes in back-to-back games.

Opponents have sent four or fewer pass rushers after Roethlisberger on 80 percent of his dropbacks in the last three games, the seventh-highest rate in the league and comparable to the 83 percent rate of standard pressure he faced the first six weeks. Though he’s being pressured at the same rate in the last three games, Roethlisberger has dominated standard pass rushes.

So, after Roethlisberger and the Steelers dismantled the Colts and the Ravens, now along come the Jets, who have allowed 24 passing touchdowns with one interception this year. New York’s 24.0 touchdown-interception ratio is four times worse than the next-closest defense (Washington, 6.0). The Jets’ +23 touchdown-interception differential is greater than any other team’s number of passing touchdowns allowed, and only four other teams have a touchdown-interception differential that’s half as bad.

The blind résumé to the right works shows how bad the Jets have been: They have turned their average opposing quarterback into Tom Brady this season. New York’s 79.6 Total QBR allowed is the worst in the league and is 5.4 points worse than the worst full-season defense during the QBR era (since 2006) – the 0-16 2008 Detroit Lions (74.2).

QB A: Tom Brady
QB B: The composite of quarterbacks facing the Jets this season (Derek Carr, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Kyle Orton and Alex Smith)

Top stats to know: Steelers 30, Texans 23

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
The Houston Texans jumped out to an early 13-0 lead on the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night. The Steelers then rode a late first-half surge to a 24-13 lead at halftime. After the Texans held that early lead, they were outscored 30-10 for the rest of the game.

The Steelers are now 8-2 on "Monday Night Football" under Mike Tomlin, and the Texans have lost three straight after a 3-1 start to the season.

The difference in the game was the quick 24 points the Steelers posted late in the second quarter, leading to their 16th straight "Monday Night Football" victory, the longest streak in the history of the franchise.

Steelers strike quickly
Pittsburgh scored 24 points in a span of 2:54 to completely change the momentum of the game. They had scored 27 points over their previous two games combined.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time an NFL team scored 24 or more points in less than three minutes was in Week 4 of 2002, when the Seattle Seahawks posted 28 points in 1:47 against the Minnesota Vikings.

The Steelers are the first team to score 21 points in the final two minutes of a half since the Texans in 2012 Week 1 (21 in first half versus Miami Dolphins). Furthermore, they are the only team in the past decade to score three touchdowns in the final 90 seconds of a half.

Killer B's attack for Steelers
Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was a jack-of-all-trades, catching nine passes for 90 yards and adding his first career touchdown pass for good measure during that 24-point surge at the end of the first half.

According to Elias, Brown is the third player in NFL history with at least nine receptions and a touchdown pass in a game, joining James Wilder (1984) and Jerry Rice (1995). He also extended his NFL-record streak of at least five receptions and 50 yards to 23 straight games.

With two touchdown passes, Ben Roethlisberger has at least 10 in each of his first 11 seasons. That ties Jim Kelly for the fourth most such seasons to start a career in NFL history.

Roethlisberger completed 23 passes, and 17 of them were either to Le'Veon Bell or Brown. He was 8-for-8 for 88 yards and a touchdown targeting Bell, who eclipsed 100 scrimmage yards for the seventh consecutive game this season. Bell joins DeMarco Murray as the only players with at least 100 yards from scrimmage in each of their team's games this season.

Other notable tidbits
Not to be forgotten was another outstanding effort from J.J. Watt. Watt had a sack and a fumble recovery on Monday, marking his third such game this season. No other player had more than one such game. Additionally, his fumble recovery was his NFL-leading third of the season.

With 77 receiving yards, Andre Johnson moved passed Hall of Famer Steve Largent for 14th on the career receiving yards list.

Keys to victory: No turnovers and kicking

November, 29, 2013

AP Photo/Nick WassRavens kicker Justin Tucker made a career-high five field goals on Thursday.

The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers played yet another close football game. Since 2003, the rivalry is as close as can be, with each team winning 12 games (including playoffs). Nine of the last 10 regular season games between the teams have been decided by three or fewer points.

Quarterbacks shine

Both quarterbacks played well, as evidenced by their Total QBRs of 79.7 (Roethlisberger) and 83.1 (Flacco), well above the average of 50. Ben Roethlisberger had two touchdown passes, giving him 212 for his career, tied with Terry Bradshaw for the most in Steelers franchise history.

He also notched his 25th consecutive game with a passing touchdown, tied with Tony Romo for second-longest active streak (Peyton Manning, 34).

Joe Flacco threw for 251 yards and a touchdown. For the first time since Week 7 (also against the Steelers), Flacco went through a game without throwing an interception. This reflected a larger theme, as it marked the first game in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry not to feature a turnover from either team (40 games including playoffs).

Flacco was effective in targeting Torrey Smith. Flacco was 6-of-10 for 93 yards and a touchdown when targeting Smith on Thursday, good for 9.3 yards per attempt. When targeting seven other Ravens pass catchers, he averaged 6.3 yards per attempt. He went farther downfield for Smith, and his average target depth was more than five yards longer to Smith than it was to his other receivers.

Where Flacco distinguished himself from Roethlisberger on Thursday was on third down, where the Ravens quarterback threw for 118 yards and a touchdown. Roethlisberger was good, but not to the level of Flacco, as he gained more than 50 fewer yards on third down.

Tucker gives the Ravens a kick

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker made a huge difference with his field goals. He made all five of his attempts on Thursday, reaching a career high for field goals made.

In fact, Tucker’s five field goals tied him for the most field goals made in any NFL game this season. After going 0-2 in Week 2, Tucker has made 27 consecutive field-goal attempts.

Did you know?

• Fun facts from the Elias Sports Bureau: Defending Super Bowl champions are 9-2 in Thanksgiving Day games, having won their last 7 contests. The Ravens were the second franchise to host a Thanksgiving Day game as the defending Super Bowl champion (the Cowboys have done so five times).

• The Steelers have not fared well in the national spotlight recently. Pittsburgh has lost four straight primetime games and seven of its last nine primetime games overall.

• The Steelers allowed two completions on passes traveling more than 30 yards downfield for the second time in a game in the last three seasons.

• The Ravens allowed their second rushing touchdown of the season. They have still allowed the fewest rushing touchdowns in the league.

Ravens, Steelers offenses struggling in 2013

October, 15, 2013
When the Baltimore Ravens (12th) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (27th) meet this Sunday, it’ll be the first time since Week 16 of the 2009 season that the rivals will play when both outside the top 10 of’s NFL Power Rankings.

Although both offenses are being led by Super Bowl winners neither unit has effectively moved the ball this season.

Below is a look at how each offense has struggled this season:

Neither team can run
The Steelers and Ravens rank among the worst rushing teams in the NFL this season, as only the Jaguars are averaging fewer yards per rush.

The Steelers’ inability to run may not come as surprise. The team entered the season without a clear cut starter, with second-round draft pick Le’Veon Bell missing most of pre-season with a foot injury.

Felix Jones, who was acquired in August, leads the team with 92 rush yards. Jones is tied for 69th in the NFL in rushing this season with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

Bell has 91 rush yards, and a 2.8 yards per rush average. The 2.8 average is tied for the worst in the NFL (min. 30 rushes) with Willis McGahee and Ravens running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.

Both Rice and Pierce averaged at least 4.4 yards per rush last season, making their struggles more unlikely. This season, the duo is having a tough time even getting out of the backfield unscathed.

The Ravens have been contacted in the backfield on an NFL-high 34 rushing plays this season, which accounts for 22 percent of their total rushes. Last season the Ravens were hit in the backfield on 13 percent of their rushes.

The quick hits have contributed to the Ravens averaging 1.6 rush yards before first contact this season (31st), more than a yard worse than their 2.9 yard average last season.

A lack of run game hasn’t helped either team’s quarterbacks, but those aren’t the only problems on offense for each.

No support for Flacco
After trading Anquan Boldin to the 49ers in the offseason and losing Dennis Pitta to injury, Flacco wasn’t left with much support in the passing game.

Torrey Smith still remains in Baltimore, but he has primarily been used as a deep threat. Since entering the NFL, Smith’s average target has been 17.7 yards downfield, highest in the NFL.

Rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown and veteran Dallas Clark have tried to fill Boldin and Pitta’s shoes this season but they haven’t been able to fill the void completely.

With few dependable options, Flacco has already targeted 13 different receivers this season, two more than all of last season (including playoffs).

Roethlisberger immobile and under pressure
Roethlisberger has always been susceptible to sacks in his career, but this season he has found himself under more pressure than usual.

Roethlisberger has been sacked or put under duress on 30 percent of his dropbacks this season, his highest rate in the last five seasons.

Unlike in years past, Roethlisberger hasn’t been able to escape the pocket and make plays.

Only 20 percent of his passes when under duress have been from outside the pocket (37 percent from 2009 to 2012), which has led to a diminished performance overall when under pressure.

Line struggles hurt Steelers, Giants

October, 4, 2013

Getty ImagesPoor line play has contributed to the Steelers and Giants starting 0-4 this season.
There have been some surprising starts to the NFL season, both good and bad. We take a look at issues that have contributed to 0-4 starts by the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants.

Check out Dean Oliver's in-depth analysis of the specific problems the Steelers and Giants face with their offensive lines.

The Steelers and Giants have combined to win four of the last eight Super Bowls but are off to their worst starts since 1968 and 1987, respectively.

Pittsburgh is the first team since the 2005 Houston Texans to fail to record a takeaway in their first four games. New York has been outscored by 85 points, the worst mark in team history through a season's first four games.

The bad news for the Steelers and Giants -- in addition to the 0-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars -- is that since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, only one team has started 0-4 and made the playoffs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That would be the 1992 San Diego Chargers.

Let’s take a look at some numbers to support why the Steelers and Giants are off to such bad starts.

The Steelers' offensive line struggles have been evident all season, especially after losing Maurkice Pouncey for the season in Week 1 when he tore two ligaments in his right knee.

Pittsburgh is averaging 58 yards per game on the ground, fourth fewest in the league. The Steelers' 232 total rush yards are their fewest through their first four games since 1935.

Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 15 times this year and has fumbled three times on sacks. Both totals are the most in the NFL.

The Steelers are allowing 27.5 points per game, which would be their most in a season since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. They are tied with the Giants for the fewest sacks in the NFL (four).

New York
Eli Manning is off to arguably the worst start of his career. He has thrown a league-high nine interceptions, most in his first four starts of a season.

His Total QBR of 30.0 ranks 29th in the league, worst in his first four starts to a season since 2006.

The Giants can’t stay on or get off the field, a recipe for a bad team. They have converted a league-low 23 percent of third-down plays, and they have allowed opponents to convert a league-high 50 percent on third down. That includes allowing the Chiefs to convert 9-of-16 third downs in Week 4.

The Giants' pass rush has been running on fumes all season. In fact, it extends into last season as New York has gone nine straight games without sacking the quarterback more than twice.

The last time the Giants had more than two sacks was Nov. 25, 2012, when they got to Aaron Rodgers five times in a 38-10 win.

Two of the four sacks they have this year have come with four or fewer pass rushers, or a sack on 1.9 percent of opposing QB dropbacks.

As recently as their 2011 Super Bowl season, the Giants' four-man pass rush sacked opposing quarterbacks on 7.3 percent of their dropbacks, tied for second in the league.

Bengals keep it short and sweet to win

September, 17, 2013

Andy Dalton made good use of the center of the field in the Bengals' win.

The Cincinnati Bengals seem to have turned an important corner when it comes to beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, with wins in the last two meetings. In each instance, they held the Steelers to 10 points.

The Steelers are 0-2 for the first time under Mike Tomlin. This was only the second time in 10 games that Ben Roethlisberger lost in Cincinnati.

On this night, it was a rookie who stole the show.

Bernard makes the Bengals go
Rookie Giovani Bernard scored the first two touchdowns of his NFL career. He’s the third rookie to score two offensive touchdowns against the Steelers in a Monday Night Football game, joining Fred Taylor and Earl Campbell.

He’s also the first Bengals rookie with two offensive touchdowns on Monday Night Football since Stan Fritts in 1975.

Bernard was the first Bengal to score two touchdowns in any game against the Steelers since Terrell Owens in 2010.

Dalton wins by keeping it simple
On a day in which Andy Dalton threw his 50th career touchdown pass, he won by keeping his passes short and letting his receivers do the work.

Dalton finished 17-for-20 for 134 yards and a touchdown on passes within five yards of the line of scrimmage. He also took advantage of the middle of the field, as the image atop this story shows.

Big Ben comes up small
Roethlisberger had a rough go of it against a very stellar Bengals defense.

Roethlisberger completed only two of his first 12 passes that traveled at least 15 yards in the air (he was 2-for-3 on the final drive, with the Bengals in a prevent defense). Roethlisberger had a completion rate of 40 percent on those passes last season.

Roethlisberger threw 11 incomplete passes of that length. On nine of those 11, he overthrew his intended receiver.

Roethlisberger was 1-for-9 when he was under duress from the Bengals defense. The only completion went for one yard.

The Steelers also failed to maintain the success they had rushing the ball in the first quarter. They had 37 rushing yards in the game’s first 15 minutes, and only seven rushing yards the rest of the game.

The Steelers and Cardinals are tied for the longest active streak without rushing for 100 yards (eight games, dating back to last season). That matches the longest streak in Steeelers history, done once in 1933-1934 and again in 1935.

Did You Know?
The Steelers are 0-2 for the fifth time in the last 25 seasons, but they’ve shown the ability to bounce back from those poor starts. In each of the four other instances, they’ve finished the season with a winning record. Three of those seasons ended with a playoff spot.

Top things to know: Steelers at Bengals

September, 16, 2013

USA Today SportsBen Roethlisberger (left) and Andy Dalton (right) look to lead their team to victory on MNF.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals meet for the 86th time in a series that started in 1970 (8:30 ET on ESPN). The Steelers are looking for their fourth straight win in Cincinnati and 11th in the last 12 meetings in the Queen City.

Here are five stats Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will be talking about during the game.

1. One of these teams will be 0-2 after the game. History says an 0-2 start means different things for these teams.

Over the last 25 years, the Steelers have started 0-2 four times. They finished with a winning record in each of the four seasons, making the playoffs three times.

By contrast, the Bengals have never finished with a winning record or made the playoffs in any of the 15 previous seasons in which they started 0-2.

2. Ben Roethlisberger is going for his 14th win against the Bengals, which would break a tie with Warren Moon for the most wins by a starting QB against Cincinnati.

He may need more help from a running game that has gone seven straight games without 100 yards, one shy of the longest such streak in franchise history set back in the 1930s.

3. A.J. Green is coming off a monster Week 1 performance in which he caught two touchdowns and set a franchise record for most receiving yards in a season opener (162).

However, he has struggled at home against the Steelers. Green has just three career games in which he’s been held to a single catch, two coming against the Steelers and both at home (the other was at the Cleveland Browns in 2011).

4. Andy Dalton is just 1-3 against the Steelers. While he won the last time out, he did struggle, throwing two interceptions with no touchdowns. Overall, Dalton has more interceptions (five) than touchdown passes (four) in his career against Pittsburgh.

5. James Harrison spent 10 seasons playing linebacker for the Steelers (2002-03, 2005-12), winning the 2008 AP Defensive Player of the Year award.

In Week 1, he played 62.5 percent of the Bengals’ defensive snaps. In his last five seasons with the Steelers in games he played, Harrison played in at least 84.1 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.

Class of 2012: Best QB class ever?

November, 21, 2012
US Presswire/Getty ImagesAndrew Luck (left) and Robert Griffin III are two of the best rookie QBs we’ve seen in a while.

Are Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and the other Class of 2012 quarterbacks on par with storied the QB classes of 1983 and 2004?

While this week’s Hot Read compares the three classes in their respective infancies, we decided to see how they stack up relative to the eras in which they played through 10 career starts.

Class of 1983: Dan Marino, John Elway, Jim Kelly, Todd Blackledge, Ken O’Brien, Tony Eason
Class of 2004: Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Matt Schaub, J.P. Losman
Class of 2012: Luck, RG3, Brandon Weeden, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill

The NFL has become a pass-happy league since the Class of 1983 made its debut. From 1983 to '86, NFL offenses passed on roughly 53 percent of their plays. So far this season, that number is more than 58 percent. (NOTE: Keep in mind that this includes QB scrambles as rush attempts instead of broken pass plays, as that data is not historically available.)

If that kind of increase doesn’t seem like much, consider this: From 1980 to '89, there were 14 instances of a QB throwing for 4,000-plus yards in a single season. In the '90s that number rose to 22. Since 2000? It’s happened 61 times.

In addition to throwing more often for more yards, quarterbacks are completing a higher percentage and throwing far more touchdowns than interceptions in the current era.

Since that is all NFL passer rating takes into account (Total QBR wasn’t available pre-2008), it makes sense that the league-wide passer rating is 12 points higher now than it was in the mid-1980s (and nearly six points higher than it was from 2004 to '06).

Looking at the QB classes in a vacuum, the Class of 2004 in its infancy rates the best statistically, as it has the highest completion percentage, touchdown-to-interception ratio and passer rating of any of the three groups. Up next would be the current crop, which also had a better completion percentage, TD-INT ratio and passer rating than the 1983 group.

But what happens when we adjust for the eras in which they played?

Through 10 career starts, the classes of 1983 and 2004 put up better cumulative statistics than their respective league averages. That’s not the case for the current crop.

Entering Week 12, the Class of 2012 has a completion percentage nearly 2.5 points lower than the league average. While its TD-INT ratio of 1.22 isn’t bad at face value, it’s actually 26 percent lower than the current league average. The group’s cumulative passer rating of 80.5 -- which would have ranked 13th in the NFL in 1983 -- is more than six points below the current league average.

Of course, there is more to quarterback play than throwing. Led by Luck and Griffin, the current rookies have rushed for 1,059 yards and 12 touchdowns, more than the two previous classes combined at this same early point in their careers.

So it would seem logical that Total QBR -- which measures everything a quarterback does (passing, avoiding sacks, sustaining drives, fumbles, etc.) and at what point in the game he does it -- would paint a more flattering picture for the Class of 2012. While the rookies’ Total QBR measures closer to the league average than other metrics, the current group’s cumulative rating of 55.1 is still below the current league average of 56.1.

Get to know your backup QBs

November, 16, 2012
We know that two backup quarterbacks will start this week, and as many as four. Here’s a look at what they’ve done in the limited playing time.

NICK FOLES, PHI (34.9 Total QBR in Week 10)

Nick Foles
Nick Foles went 22-of-32 with a touchdown and an interception in his NFL debut last week. Although Foles threw only one interception (which was returned for a TD), it could have been worse. Foles had two potential interceptions dropped and another interception called back due to a penalty. It was the fourth time this season that a quarterback had multiple interceptions dropped in game. It wasn’t all bad for Foles. He connected on 4-of-6 attempts more than 10 yards downfield, with two of those completions gaining 30-plus yards. Michael Vick had two 30-plus yard plays in a game only twice this season.

BYRON LEFTWICH, PIT (61.7 Total QBR in Week 10)

In his limited playing time since the start of 2008, Byron Leftwich has posted a 52.2 Total QBR, which means he has played at an average level. If there’s one area in particular that Leftwich has performed below average during that time, it’s on deep throws. Leftwich hasn’t completed a pass more than 20 yards downfield since Week 2 of the 2009 season when he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and has completed just 4-of-21 attempts of more than 20 yards downfield since the start of 2008. That’s the third worst completion percentage of any quarterback with at least 20 attempts.

JASON CAMPBELL, CHI (21.7 Total QBR in Week 10)

Similar to Leftwich, Jason Campbell’s 50.9 Total QBR over the last five seasons puts his performance at an average level, but he may be able to capably fill Jay Cutler’s void. The San Francisco 49ers have sent four or fewer pass rushers 78.8 percent of the time since the start of last season, that’s the second-highest rate in the NFL. Both Cutler and Campbell have posted Total QBRs over 60.0 against such pressure, with Campbell actually posting a better completion percentage.

Don’t expect Campbell to air it out too often, though. Of the 30 quarterbacks with at least 1,000 attempts in the last five seasons, Campbell’s 6.6 yard average throw distance ranks as the shortest. Cutler’s 8.2 average is tied for the ninth highest.

COLIN KAEPERNICK, SF (40.7 Total QBR in Week 10)

Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick’s biggest strength so far this season has been running the ball. Kaepernick has averaged 8.8 yards per rush on 14 designed runs. That rate is best among quarterbacks, and 3.8 yards higher than Cam Newton’s 5.0 designed yards per rush average. However, Kaepernick might be too quick to run on pass plays this season, scrambling on seven of his 38 dropbacks (18.4 percent). Not only is that the highest scramble rate in the NFL (minimum 20 dropbacks), but it’s nearly double that of the next highest quarterback (Robert Griffin III, 9.7 percent).

Big Ben's skills could be tough to replace

November, 13, 2012
The biggest storyline to come out of the Pittsburgh Steelers win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football was Ben Roethlisberger’s strained right shoulder.

The Steelers improved to 86-36 in games Roethlisberger started with their overtime victory, though Roethlisberger was not around for the finish.

Big Ben could be missed
Of greater concern to the Steelers than the win may be Roethlisberger’s health. If he’s out for an extended length of time, the Steelers will miss him in a couple of notable areas.
Ben Roethlisberger
They’ll miss him on third down. The Steelers went 6-for-16 on third down on Monday, but lead the NFL with a 51 percent third-down conversion rate.

Roethlisberger has had a very productive season on third down, completing two-thirds of his passes in those situations. His 47 percent conversion rate on third-down throws this season is second-best in the NFL, trailing only Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

Roethlisberger also has rated as elite in situations in which opponents have rushed four or fewer pass rushers. His 69 percent completion rate and 11-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio both rank in fourth-best in the NFL (tied for fourth in ratio).

The Steelers next face the Baltimore Ravens, a team they’ve had plenty of trouble with even with Roethlisberger at the helm. His 56.8 percent completion rate against the Ravens is tied for his second-worst against any opponent he’s faced multiple times.

Steelers won with defense
In Roethlisberger’s absence, the Steelers defense won the game for him, with an interception in overtime that led to the game-winning field goal by Shawn Suisham.

Pittsburgh’s defense caused all sorts of trouble for Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, who was 1-for-8 against five-or-more pass rushers. This continued a trend in which the Steelers have held their last four opponents to a 30 percent completion rate against such rushes.
In the first seven games of the season, the Steelers allowed opponents to complete 62 percent of their passes against five-or-more rushers.

The Steelers also forced Cassel into 0-for-8 passing on third down. Cassel’s eight third-down pass attempts are the most any quarterback has had in a single game without a completion in the last five seasons.

Coming into Monday, Cassel had completed an NFL-high 69 percent of his third-down passes this season.

The win kept alive a few streaks- the Steelers have won four straight games, won four straight overtime games at home, and won 15 straight home games on Monday Night Football.

The Chiefs did have one notable streak come to an end, as they managed an in-game lead, snapping a run of eight straight games to start the season without one.

Another streak extended though, as head coach Romeo Crennel fell to 0-9 as a head coach against the Steelers, the worst record by any current coach against a team.

Peyton makes mark with 4th-quarter rallies

November, 5, 2012

AP Photo/Tom UhlmanPeyton Manning set an NFL record for the most game-winning drives (48) in the 4th quarter or overtime since the merger in Denver’s 31-23 win over Cincinnati on Sunday.
Peyton Manning had a Total QBR of 94.7 in Sunday’s 31-23 win over the Bengals. It was the fourth time in the last five games that Manning posted a Total QBR better than 90 and the fifth time this season. No other player in the NFL has more than three such games.

When trailing in the fourth quarter Sunday, Manning completed all four of his passes, including a touchdown. Manning led the Denver Broncos on their third game-winning drive of the season en route to setting the NFL record for the most game-winning drives (48) in the fourth quarter or overtime since the merger.

Andrew Luck posted an 89.1 Total QBR on Sunday as he passed for a rookie-record 433 yards and two touchdowns against the Dolphins. In the past five seasons, no rookie had a higher Total QBR (76.1) through nine games than Luck, who already has led the Indianapolis Colts to three more wins than they had all of last season.

Matt Ryan had the most successful rookie campaign over the last five seasons, finishing the 2008 season with the second-best Total QBR (72.4) in the league and leading the Atlanta Falcons to an 11-5 record and playoff appearance. Through nine games, Luck has put up similar, if not better, numbers than Ryan while leading his team to a 5-3 record.

• Eli Manning posted a season-low 14.2 Total QBR in the New York Giants' loss to the Steelers. It was his second-consecutive week with a QBR less than 50 after having topped 50 for eight consecutive weeks dating to last year’s Super Bowl.

• Aaron Rodgers had an 81.7 Total QBR despite completing less than 50 percent of his passes. Rodgers’ QBR was so high because when the Green Bay Packers were within seven points of the Cardinals he completed 60 percent of his passes, including all four touchdowns (2-of-10 when up by more than seven points). Rodgers has a 73.1 Total QBR this season, fifth in the NFL, and has increased his Total QBR in five of his last seven weeks.

• Matthew Stafford had a season-high 92.4 Total QBR in the Detroit Lions' 31-14 victory against the Jaguars. Stafford was 9-for-12 on third down, including 7-for-9 in the first half, with all seven completions going for first downs.

• Luck completed 13-of-16 passes for 12 first downs and a touchdown on third down against the Dolphins. His 12 passing first downs on third down are the most by any player in a game this season. Luck raised his Total QBR on third down to 88.8, second in the NFL behind Ben Roethlisberger.

Total QBR can be used to quantify just how important the quarterback position has become to winning in the NFL. Looking back to previous years, the team with the higher Total QBR has won 86 percent of regular season games since the start of the 2008 season (as far back as Total QBR goes). That is higher than the comparable mark for teams with the advantage in total yardage, turnover differential, and NFL passer rating.

Keep in mind that just because a team wins a game with a lower QBR than its opponent does NOT mean that Total QBR was “wrong” or not as good for that game. That just means that the winning team was able to overcome its QB being outperformed by the opposing QB (on a rate basis), usually by playing better in other aspects of the game (rushing game, special teams, etc.).

Complete QBR statistics for all quarterbacks can be found here.

Better QB: Roethlisberger or Eli Manning?

October, 31, 2012
AP Photo/US PresswireEli Manning (left) and Ben Roethlisberger (right) are two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

Although Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning have the same number of wins over the past two seasons, Roethlisberger is better than Manning in many important situations, including under pressure, on third down and in the red zone.

Over the past two seasons, when Roethlisberger has been under duress or hit while throwing, he has an NFL-high (among 40 qualified quarterbacks) 55.9 completion percentage and eight touchdowns, tied with Michael Vick for the most in the league.

Roethlisberger has also excelled on third down. He leads all qualified quarterbacks with a 97.3 Total QBR on third down this season, much higher than Manning’s 52.2. Roethlisberger has thrown six touchdowns and no interceptions on third down.

Roethlisberger is also much better than Manning in the red zone. Roethlisberger has a top-3 Total QBR of 94.4 in the red zone, compared to Manning’s 46.8, 17th among qualified quarterbacks.

Finally, Roethlisberger is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL this season against four or fewer pass rushers, the most frequent situation a quarterback faces. He has completed 72.1 percent of his passes and averaged 8.1 yards per attempt against such pressure, both highest among qualified quarterbacks.
--Bobby Greenhalgh


Manning’s success in the fourth quarter and on the road makes him a better quarterback than Roethlisberger.

Manning has thrown 20 touchdown passes in the fourth quarter over the past two seasons, more than any other player in the league. He has continued to improve with his fourth-quarter performance over the past three seasons, increasing his Total QBR from 34.6 in 2010 to 84.9 this season, which ranks fourth among qualified quarterbacks.

Manning has also shown the ability to win on the road. Including last postseason, when Manning led the Giants to two road wins, he is 10-4 away from MetLife Stadium and has a Total QBR of 68.5 on the road.

Roethlisberger has not found the same success on the road since the start of the 2011 season, winning six of his 13 road games (including the playoffs) and posting a Total QBR of 61.1 away from Heinz Field.

Throwing the deep ball is another area of strength for Manning, partly due to his two primary targets, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.

Manning has thrown 14 touchdowns on throws more than 20 yards downfield over the past two seasons, the third-most in the league, and nine of those 14 touchdowns have been caught by Cruz or Nicks.

Manning leads the NFL in yards (1,994), attempts (120) and completions (52) on throws of more than 20 yards in the last two seasons.
--Evan Kaplan

Also: Check out AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley's post on the Eli-Roethlisberger debate.

Brady, Sanchez on polar ends of spectrum

October, 29, 2012
Getty ImagesTom Brady shined on Sunday, while Mark Sanchez did not.
After the New England Patriots fell behind the St. Louis Rams 7-0, quarterback Tom Brady took over the game as the Patriots outscored the Rams 45-0 the rest of the way.

Brady’s 98.4 Total QBR on Sunday is tied for his highest in a single game over the last five seasons and is the second-highest for any player in 2012, trailing only Alex Smith's Week 5 performance that netted him a 99.2 Total QBR.

Brady has had a penchant for stepping up in big games on the road the last few seasons. Sunday marked the seventh time he’s had a Total QBR above 90 in a road game since 2010 – most in the NFL.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from Brady is New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez. In the Jets’ 30-9 loss to the Dolphins, Sanchez had a Total QBR of 12.1. Since coming into the league in 2009, Sanchez has had 12 games in which his Total QBR was under 15 – most in the NFL.

To put those struggles in some perspective, Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have combined to have one game with a sub-15 Total QBR in that span.

• Tony Romo dug himself a hole when he posted a Total QBR of 3.3 in the first half of Sunday’s loss against the Giants (27 action plays). Since 2008, only Andy Dalton in Week 4 of last season has posted that low of a first-half QBR with at least 25 action plays and gone on to win the game.

• Matt Ryan had a 95.7 Total QBR in the Falcons’ win against the Eagles, his highest since Week 1 against the Chiefs (97.5). Ryan entered the game with a 45.3 career QBR against Philadelphia, his worst against any team he had faced at least twice previously.

• In their Sunday night matchup, Peyton Manning had a 96.3 Total QBR and Drew Brees posted a 24.2. Manning’s QBR was his highest since Week 15 of 2009 and his second-highest over the last five seasons. Brees’ QBR was his lowest since Week 7 of 2010 and his third-lowest over the last five seasons.

• Ben Roethlisberger posted a 90.2 Total QBR in Pittsburgh’s win over the Redskins, his third game with a QBR of 90 or better in 2012. Roethlisberger had no more than two such games in any of the previous four seasons.

• Russell Wilson had a career-high 93.7 Total QBR in Seattle’s loss to the Lions. It’s the highest QBR by a player in a loss since Matt Cassel in 2010 (Week 6 - 93.8) and the fourth-highest in a loss over the last five seasons.

Total QBR can be used to quantify just how important the quarterback position has become to winning in the NFL. Looking back to previous years, the team with the higher Total QBR has won 86% of regular season games since 2008 (as far back as Total QBR goes). That is higher than the comparable mark for teams with the advantage in total yardage, turnover differential, and NFL passer rating.

Keep in mind that just because a team wins a game with a lower QBR than its opponent does NOT mean that Total QBR was “wrong” or not as good for that game. That just means that the winning team was able to overcome its QB being outperformed by the opposing QB (on a rate basis), usually by playing better in other aspects of the game (rushing game, special teams, etc.).

Complete QBR statistics for all quarterbacks can be found here..

Kyle Terada/US PresswireBrandon Marshall caught four touchdowns to lead the AFC to a Pro Bowl win
1. Brandon Marshall Sets Touchdown Record
Marshall caught four touchdown passes. The touchdown catches came one per quarter and were thrown by three different quarterbacks (Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers and two from Andy Dalton).

The four touchdown catches are the most by a player, rushing or receiving, in one game. Larry Fitzgerald caught three Touchdown passes in Sunday's game. Both he and Marshall are two of just six players to score three-or-more touchdowns in a single Pro Bowl.

It also marks the second time that two players have scored three-or-more touchdowns in the same Pro Bowl. Jimmy Smith and Mike Alstott each had three touchdowns in 2000.

2. The Defenses Rested
The two teams combined to score an even 100 points in the AFC's 59-41 win. The only Pro Bowl where more points were scored was in the 2004 game when the teams combined for 107 points.

The nine highest scoring Pro Bowls have all been since 2000.

Each of the six quarterbacks to play threw two touchdowns (Roethlisberger, Rivers, Dalton, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees).

The teams also combined for a Pro bowl record 1,142 yards.

3. Can I Kick It? No, You Can’t
Shane Lechler was selected to his seventh career Pro Bowl. He had an uneventful Sunday though as the AFC never punted.