Why Steelers’ Wild Card hopes are at risk if Big Ben misses time

On the heels of Le'Veon Bell's injury, Ben Roethlisberger was carted to the locker room for the second time this season.

| 12 months ago
(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

Why Steelers’ Wild Card hopes are at risk if Big Ben misses time

When it rains, it pours. That’s how it must feel for Steelers fans this season after watching their star quarterback get carted to the locker room for the second time this season.

Roethlisberger missed a month’s worth of game action due to a knee injury in Week 3 at St. Louis. He returned last week at home against the Bengals, but his timing was way off and he graded poorly (-1.4) in their loss.

In Week 9, Roethlisberger suffered a foot injury that took him out of the game against Oakland in a key AFC matchup of Wild Card hopefuls.

Entering Week 9, Roethlisberger was our third-ranked quarterback (89.2) behind Tom Brady and Carson Palmer, respectively. He also ranks sixth in deep passing (54.5) and 11th in accuracy percentage (79.7).

When Roethlisberger was out earlier this season, 14-year veteran Michael Vick took over and started the next three games. The only Pittsburgh win during that stretch actually came in Vick’s worst graded game (-4.0).

It was late in that game when Vick completed what would be his only deep pass of the season to tie the game in the fourth quarter.

This is where the Steelers missed Roethlisberger the most with Vick as the starter. Vick completed just one of 10 deep passes (attempts targeted 20 or more yards downfield) with a TD and interception.

Things changed a bit in the Arizona game when Landry Jones replaced Vick and led the comeback win. While both Jones (50th) and Vick (46th) are ranked poorly in accuracy percentage, Jones has a big edge over Vick in the deep passing game.

Jones ranks second for PFF (71.4 percent) in deep passing accuracy percentage, completing five-of-seven deep passes for 130 yards and a score. It’s that part of the offense the Steelers can’t afford to live without, especially with another star player, RB Le’Veon Bell, out for the season with a knee injury.

As good as Jones appears to be as a deep-passing QB, the fact remains the more he plays, the easier it will be for opposing defenses to exploit his weaknesses—of which he has many—and handle the Steelers until Roethlisberger returns.

  • Sam Doohan

    If Ben misses two week or less than maybe the Steelers will be fine, but if it’s more than that then the season is going to be pretty much done.

    Go look at the schedule for after the bye. Seattle, Indy, Cinci, Denver. That’s a seriously tough stretch for any team. Jones and Williams can maybe handle the Brownies next week but there’s no way they can keep it up down the stretch and every game there is going to really count.

    Here’s hoping he can get it together coming out of the bye.

    • Ross McCorkle

      I don’t see Ben missing that Seattle game. He wants to come back after the bye week with a long time to prepare and he probably wants to prove himself against a “top defense”. Any top player, especially one thats been consistently underrated his entire career, wants to show what they can actually do against a great defense.

      Ben will cruise back in against Seattle and end their hopes of winning the division over AZ.

      • crosseyedlemon

        The skilled competitive athletes always want to play and the coach always wants them in the lineup but bringing a player back from injury too soon usually just creates more problems.

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  • crosseyedlemon

    Coach Tomlin has had to deal with one disaster after another so if the Steelers can somehow manage to hang on for a playoff spot he deserves a few coach of the year votes.