Ben Roethlisberger Road Struggles

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ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 11: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers gets ready before the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on December 11, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

This season, we have seen a two-faced Ben Roethlisberger. Every week, either good Roethlisberger or bad Roethlisberger will show up; there is no in-between. It can be shown by the fact that Roethlisberger has yet to have a game where his quarterback rating has been between 98 and 78, six games above, six below. He has thrown for three or more touchdowns with no interceptions in four games this season but has three multiple interception games. With five of his six worst games of the season coming on the road, it begs the question, does Ben Roethlisberger have a true home, road split?

Ben Roethlisberger Road Struggles

If the question is about 2016, the answer is most definitely yes. Roethlisberger has played in seven road games this season. In those games, he has averaged out to be a 59 percent completion passer. He averages 231 yards per game, on 6.5 yards per attempt. Roethlisberger has a 3.2 percent touchdown rate to go with a 3.2 percent interception rate. This is bad Ben.

In five home games, Roethlisberger is completing 70 percent of his passes. His yards per game spikes up to 327 and his yards per attempt is an outstanding 8.4. He has an 8.8 percent touchdown rate, to go with a 1.5 percent interception rate. That is not just good Ben, that is a statistical breakdown of the best player in the NFL.

Recent History

With such a small sample size the question becomes, how fluky is this split? While this year is one of the biggest drop-offs in his recent career, he has been historically better at home. Since 2010, he has been a 64 percent passer, with 7.4 yards per attempt, and a 3.4 percent touchdown rate to go with a 2.6 percent interception rate outside of Heinz Field. At home, he is a 65 percent passer, on 8.2 yards per attempt. He has a 6.5 percent touchdown rate to go with a 1.6 percent interception rate. This comes on 35.4 attempts per game at home compared to 36.4 attempts per game on the road.

The big difference is the touchdowns to interceptions. At home, he has been throwing over four touchdowns per interception while on the road he has thrown about 1.3 per interception. In the last 47 games, Roethlisberger threw 109 touchdowns to 27 interceptions compared to 61 touchdowns and 47 interceptions in his past 49 road games.

What is the cause?

So what could factor into this big split? Of course, everybody plays worse in uncomfortable positions, but to essentially expect one interception from Roethlisberger in every road game is a bit alarming. However, it does mean that the defense likely has played worse on the road as well. This is also a defense that is finally coming up from a decline in recent years. Roethlisberger playing from behind could be an issue.

It could also be the play calling. Having more attempts and averaging an attempt per game more on the road, with much lower yards per attempt could mean that he is checking down a lot on the road and not testing the deep ball as much. Having a somewhat close completion percentage shows that Roethlisberger is still completing passes on the road, but the big ones happen at home. Dinking and dunking and working down the field rather than taking it all in one chunk does lead to more opportunity for mistakes. We saw that first hand when Roethlisberger threw two red zone interceptions in week 14 at Buffalo.

The fact of the matter is that this is something to monitor for Roethlisberger. Does this mean that he needs to be benched, or platooned in road starts? No, not even close. He still brings the dynamic ability and upside to provide best player in the league plays at any given moment. However, as the Steelers sit at five losses with three games to go, if they make the playoffs, they will likely be on the road. It will put Roethlisberger into a situation he has not performed well in recently and will be a big hurdle to climb if the Steelers want to make another long postseason run.   

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