NFL

What Went Wrong For Ben Roethlisberger Against The Ravens?

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Ben Roethlisberger may have been thrown back into the mix too soon. It makes sense the Pittsburgh Steelers would push to get him back, as Landry Jones is clearly not even the answer to “who will be Ben Roethlisberger’s backup?” much less anything else.

Yet it may be that another week off would have been wise, given how he looked in the 21-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

In the macro view, Roethlisberger looked incredibly rusty and slow, like his recently surgically repaired knee was not quite ready for prime time. At the very least, he didn’t look like he trusted it and lacked velocity and power on his throws.

The Steelers didn’t exactly try to cushion the fall back into game action. While the Ravens certainly sold out to stop Le’Veon Bell, you don’t give arguably the best running back in the NFL 14 carries when his quarterback is coming back from a knee injury. Even when the game was still close, Pittsburgh failed to impose their will on the defense with Bell.

During the fourth quarter, the Steelers attempted a pass on 15 consecutive plays (including two sacks). While they were down 21-7 at the time, that’s an extreme amount of passes even with 6:50 left. It made it easy for the Ravens to defend a team which is only doing one thing, and harder on Roethlisberger to complete passes.

Roethlisberger was also let down by some of his receivers, including tight end Jesse James who had a big drop. The quarterback very clearly audibled out of several run plays to throw the ball as well.

Most of the issue for Roethlisberger was that he clearly is still hurting. Rarely if ever did he step into a throw, using just his upper body on too many passes.

image via NFL & NFL Game Pass

image via NFL & NFL Game Pass

The result was not only a lack of power and velocity, but accuracy. You can’t mess with your mechanics like that and not have it have a negative impact.

image via NFL & NFL Game Pass

image via NFL & NFL Game Pass

It was even a factor on Roethlisberger’s interception.

While was the rare case where he at least attempted to step into his throw, it seemed hesitant, like he wasn’t sure whether he was going to do it or not. That appears to mess with the release point on the throw, causing it to come out more flat than perhaps he intended, and allowing the ball to be deflected at the line and intercepted.

image via NFL & NFL Game Pass

image via NFL & NFL Game Pass

That hesitation, the way he wasn’t stepping into his throws for the bulk of the game is the biggest reason why Roethlisberger needed at least another week of practice. While obviously a knee is critical to anyone’s ability to just move around, for a quarterback a weak lower body is a real issue. As we saw above, it messes with mechanics and will sap power from a player’s throws.

On top of all that, for a guy like Roethlisberger who tends to scramble a ton, not being able to move is a huge issue. Roethlisberger isn’t exactly the most graceful runner on the planet—on a scale of elephant to Russell Wilson, he rates a little below hippo—but when he does run he runs hard and determined.

We saw little to none of that on Sunday, and it helped the Ravens keep him penned up.

The Steelers now find themselves in a tie for first place, with a one game deficit due to this loss. Roethlisberger, for better or worse, is back in the saddle and will be next weekend when they take on the Dallas Cowboys.

Between now and then, Roethlisberger has to find a way to trust that knee, or it’s going to be a struggle to make the post-season.


About Andrew Garda

Andrew Garda is a freelance writer primarily covering NFL football, with frequent side trips to everything else. A member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he is a contributing writer for Sports on Earth and Pro Football Weekly. He also covers fantasy for Footballguys.com. Garda is the host of the At the Whistle podcast and has been credentialed for many NFL drafts, Senior Bowls, pro days and various NFL events.