Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has aired it out all season long, but everything seemed to come together on Sunday nights against the Colts where Big Ben dropped bombs all night long.
Roethlisberger has always thrown a great deep ball, but this season it’s obvious that the team really wants to make the deep ball a big part of their offense.
Ben has completed 36 passes of 20 yards or more this season, in 305 pass attempts (meaning he completes a pass of 20+ yards on 11% of his attempts). For some reference, Carson Palmer (who has played all season) leads the league with 55 completions over 20 yards in 418 attempts, good for 13%. Blake Bortles is next with 54 on 471 attempts which matches Ben’s 11%. Point being, Ben is up there in deep balls…
Oh and by the way, Ben leads the league in 40+ yard completions with 15. The next closest is Andy Dalton and Carson Palmer who have 11 each. Those two guys combine for 189 more pass attempts than Ben.
The Colts defense loves to matchup with receivers and play a lot of man to man. Fortunately for the Steelers, they have two of the toughest receivers in the league to man up with. What we saw was a great matchup for the Steelers offense.
I’m a little worried, because I don’t see the Bengals’ secondary as being as ripe for the taking. In fact, they did a great job of taking away the deep stuff in our first matchup.
Public enemy number 1, Reggie Nelson. Nelson currently leads the NFL in interceptions with 7 on the season, thanks in part to Ben Roethlisberger throwing him 2 of them in their previous matchup this season. Those interceptions ultimately sealed the game for the Bengals.
I don’t have any doubt that the Steelers receiver can win matchups against the Bengals cornerbacks, but Ben needs to be aware when those guys are getting help over the top, especially when it’s Nelson coming over to help. Todd Haley would be wise to try and get receivers in man to man situations.
I’m not saying that the team shouldn’t use one of their biggest advantages offensively, I’m just saying they need to set them up, and pick their time to take shots wisely.
If DeAngelo Williams can get going early it would help pack the Bengals defense in, and not allow them to just play the run and rush the passer with 4 guys. Antonio Brown, Heath Miller (if he’s back) and Markus Wheaton are all very capable of working the middle of the field and winning underneath, which will also bring up the safeties.
The Steelers played a pretty good game last time they matched up with the Bengals, until they started turning it over. If they can limit those this time, they may be able to steal a road victory in a huge game.