Ben Roethlisberger : Is He Really A Bad QB On The Road?

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Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown celebrate one of their many touchdown connections. Photo from http://www.zimbio.com

What Ben Roethlisberger has meant to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the fan base, can be summed up by the addition of the two Lombardi Trophies since he arrived in 2004. In addition to being a two time world champion, Ben has built himself a Hall of Fame career by being one of the toughest and most creative quarterbacks in history. He is the only quarterback in NFL history with two 500+ yard games, and has thrown the most touchdown passes (12) over a two game span. Roethlisberger is ranked tenth all-time in passing yards, and is only the second quarterback in history to start out the first thirteen years of his career with at least 15 touchdown passes in each season. For all he has done, it seems as of late, that Ben Roethlisberger is developing a reputation for being a not so roadworthy quarterback. Although his three interceptions against the Bills this past Sunday did nothing to put that sentiment to rest, that reputation seems questionable at best.

Is Ben really that bad of a road quarterback? That depends on your definition of bad. At home, most quarterbacks tend to perform better than they do on the road, where they admit it’s always tougher to play. The best way to find out how Ben Roethlisberger ranks as a road quarterback, and maybe the fairest, is to compare his road record and stats against those of two Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Terry Bradshaw and Dan Marino. Like Marino, Ben Roethlisberger loves to air it out, and just as Bradshaw did, Ben won at least 100 games in his first 150 career starts.

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Stats used are from http://www.pro-footballreference.com

As it turns out, compared to the road records of two Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Ben Roethlisberger is a pretty darn good playing on the road. Across the board, Ben Roethlisberger’s road record tops Terry Bradshaw’s, and compares favorably to Dan Marino’s. In 30 less games than Marino, Ben trails him by only 15 touchdown passes and has 43 fewer interceptions. Projecting Ben’s numbers out for 30 more road games gives him better numbers across the board than Marino, with far fewer interceptions. To make things more interesting, and for further comparison, let’s add a quarterback with a similar style of play to Ben, Brett Favre. Here are Favre’s road game stats:

Road Games-151     Record 73-78    3218/5206   62%  36,272 yards  243 Td’s   179 Int’s

Compared to Favre’s road record, Ben’s numbers, projected out to the same number of games, would be slightly better overall. Of all four quarterbacks being looked at, Ben’s 88.8 is the highest quarterback rating as well. Based on the these numbers it’s fair to say that Ben Roethlisberger is not the bad road quarterback that some of the folks at the NFL Network and ESPN are saying he is, which seems to be the byproduct of the fantasy football crowd. Ben may not be putting up the prolific numbers that he does at home, but he has been more than adequate away from Heinz Field.

Games times, month, days, and teams where Ben has truly struggled the most:

The Steelers have destroyed the AFC North since Ben arrived in 2004, going 48-18. Ben happens to hold winning records over every division in the NFL, but has struggled the most against the AFC West and the NFC South, going 12-10 and 6-4 respectively.

When it comes to game times, Ben Roethlisberger seems to prefer 1:00pm games (67-27) and prime time games (35-16) over afternoon games where he has record of only 20-18. Whether it’s the late afternoon sky, or because of a different routine for afternoon games, these games don’t seem to agree with Ben as much as the other two time slots.

As the season rolls on, the Steelers seem to get better, which is no accident. Ben has had his greatest success in October (32-11), November (30-17), December (36-14), and January (5-0). It’s September (19-19) that Ben probably wishes he could skip, where it seems he has a hard time getting off to a quick start. Maybe it’s those afternoon games against AFC West and NFC South opponents.

With all of the success that Ben Roethlisberger has had in the NFL, he has failed to achieve at least a .500 record against, the Bears, Broncos, Raiders, Patriots and Saints. Sometimes there’s just no rhyme or reason for why somebody struggles against a team or certain group of teams, they just do.

When it comes to the day of the week that Ben is playing, he would probably prefer it be either Sunday (101-52), Monday (12-4), or Saturday (2-0). The day of the week that Ben stands the best chance of losing on is Thursday (7-5). Perhaps this is because Thursday is the least favorite day to play for most NFL players, so much so, that The NFL is contemplating getting rid of them altogether except for the Thanksgiving games.

Every Hall of Fame quarterback has had certain struggles throughout their careers, with certain teams, playing on the road, or on certain days. Big Ben is no different. Sometimes you learn more about a quarterback like Ben through his struggles, like how good he really is compared to others like him. Two important facts have been learned about Ben Roethlisberger during this research. One, Ben Roethlisberger is not nearly as bad when playing on the road, as the media would like you to believe, and two, never bet on the Steelers when Ben is playing an AFC West or an NFC South opponent, during September, on either Sunday afternoon or on Thursday night.

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