Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger might have helped the team defeat the Kansas City Chiefs to move on to the AFC Championship Game, but he didn’t play well. He only threw for 224 yards and had a crucial red zone interception on a tipped pass, without throwing a touchdown all day.
It turns out that Roethlisberger is an entirely different player when he plays at home, versus when he plays on the road.
Over the past three years, we have a pretty interesting picture of how Roethlisberger is far less productive as a passer while on the road. He throws for more than a yard less per pass attempt, while his touchdown pass rate is almost cut into a third. He completes fewer passes and throws more interceptions.
Roethlisberger’s passer rating plummets when he goes on the road. At home, Roethlisberger plays at a level comparable to Tom Brady (112.2). On the road, he more closely resembles Eli Manning (86.0), Trevor Siemian (84.6), and Joe Flacco (83.5). For comparison, Brady leads the NFL with a 98.4 passer rating on the road over that time.
The most shocking split is with Roethlisberger’s short game. Ben has 41 touchdowns to 9 interceptions on 660 passes within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage at home. He has only 11 touchdowns against 12 interceptions on 698 short passes while on the road. The Patriots cannot allow Roethlisberger to get into a rhythm with his short passes.
Last year, Roethlisberger threw for 351 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in the season opener against New England. His passer rating was almost exactly the same as his season average. The Patriots will have to do better this year because if they can make Roethlisberger look like Siemian or Flacco on Sunday, then New England will be in great shape to reach another Super Bowl.