Risky Business- The Effects of Roethlisberger’s Turnovers


Risky Business- The Effects of Roethlisberger’s Turnovers

                Warren Buffet didn’t become a billionaire by being conservative.  One could say his aggressiveness has made many people richer many times over.  Same thing could be said about QBs and their teams’ results.  Confident quarterbacks often try to fit passes in tight windows or anticipate a play that can lead to dramatic victories.  On the other hand, these same decisions can result in a momentum changing turnover.  A quick look back into Week 3 and one will find out that four of the last six Super Bowl winning QBs (Roethlisberger, Brady, Brees, and Rogers), combined for 10 turnovers (Peyton Manning–DNP, Eli Manning – no TOs).

The most troubling stat trend from Week 3 might be Ben Roethlisberger’s 2 lost fumbles.  That gives him a not even Tarvaris Jackson "Tarvaris Jackson-like" 3-TD to 8-turnover ratio.  I will investigate further into how these turnovers are playing a role in two of Pittsburgh’s first three games…

Week 1: vs the Ravens (L 7-35) – 1 TD pass, 3 INTs, 2 lost fumbles –  

6:01 in the first quarter, Ravens with a 7-0 lead and the Steelers moving the ball close to midfield.  Terrell Suggs sacks Ben and forces a fumble and Ngata recovers on the Steelers 37 yard line.  On the ensuing drive, Baltimore takes it down and builds a 14-0 lead…

14:49 (3rd quarter) – Short pass intended for Mike Wallace intercepted by Ray Lewis and Ravens take over on Steelers 17 yard line.  Turnover on downs as Steelers D keeps Ravens from converting on 4th and 1…

13:00 (3rd quarter) – Pittsburgh moves the ball from their own 9 to the Ravens 20 yard line.  On first down, Ben then serves up an Ed Reed interception at the Baltimore 1 yd line trying to find Heath Miller in the end zone.  Baltimore takes it down and converts a 28 yd field goal.  Ravens push ahead 32-7…

13:57 (4th quarter) – A no huddle, strictly shotugun drive and Ben leads the Steelers from their 20 yard line to the Ravens 20.  Again, Ben tries to find Miller in the end zone and Ed Reed intercepts it in the end zone…

4:57 (4th quarter) – The drive starts at their 28 yd line and Roethlisberger completes a 55 yd pass to Miller (finally), but is called back after a holding penalty on Willie Colon.  Three plays later, Suggs sacks and strips Ben and the Ravens take over on the Steelers 9 yd line.  Steelers defense then holds as the Ravens are forced to kick a 30 yd field goal.  Ravens 35-7…

Game 1 Tally

2 interceptions in the red zone on first down –

2 fumbles in own territory – 

1 interception inside own 20 yd line –


Week 2: vs the Seahawks (W 24-0) – 1 TD pass, no TOs


                Week 3: vs the Colts (W23-20) –

1:39 (1st quarter) – Ben is sacked by Robert Mathis on their own 48 yd line and Mathis recovers the ensuing fumble at midfield.  Colts take it down and convert a 20 yd field goal.  Steelers still lead 10-3…

6:14 (2nd quarter) – Steelers take over on their 20 yd line and move it up into Colts territory.  On 2nd and 10, Freeney strip sacks Ben at the 42 yd line and Jamaal Anderson runs it in for a TD.  Game tied 10-10…

1:46 (2nd quarter) – Ben is intercepted on the first play from scrimmage (Steelers 20 yd line) by Joe Lefeged.  Colts convert the drive into another Adam Vinatieri field goal.  Colts lead 13-10…

Game 3 Tally

2 fumbles in Steelers territory –

1 interception in Steelers territory –


4 fumbles in Steelers territory – 1 returned for TD…  Converted to 20 points

2 interceptions in Steelers territory – Converted to 3 points

2 interceptions on 1st down in the red zone – Point potential loss – 10.3 points (based on Steelers average pts scored per red zone trip over the last two years)… 

                Now I know there are a myriad of factors involved: such as deflections, rushers (9 sacks allowed so far), WR running a wrong route, etc.  However, it does give you a glimpse into the end results of Ben and his turnovers.  Historically, Ben’s turnover numbers should regress to the mean, especially considering he is on pace for 41 turnovers, but that doesn’t mean that Steelers fans shouldn’t be alarmed by Ben’s sudden penchant for turning the ball over. 

                Another factor not taken into account is the toll that these turnovers have taken on the Steelers defense.  In the two games that Ben has turned the ball over, the Steelers have allowed 30 pts/game. And vs. Seattle?  The Steelers defense pitched a shutout when Ben had no turnovers.    The Steelers have the oldest starting defense in the league and how much of a toll will all the extra pressure/possessions take on them? 

In games 1 and 3, Ben turned the ball over 6 times in Steelers territory and the defense only allowed 1 TD and 3 FGs (one sack fumble was returned by Colts D for a TD), so they have given up only 16 points in 5 chances, a measly 3.2 points per possession.  Considering over the course of the last three years, the average NFL team has allowed 4.7 pts/possession in that situation, can Pittsburgh’s defense keep bailing out Big Ben and the offense in these situations?

                Ben’s turnover tally bears watching over the next few weeks considering the competition, the lack of an established running game,  shoddy offensive line play, and early season bad luck.  Big Ben’s turnovers may not only stunt his offense’s efficiency, but in the long run may start to wear down the vaunted Steelers defense, greatly reducing the Steelers chances of getting "Number 7".


Til next time…

Bryan Nichols doesn’t always blog, but when he does …  

Bryan is TPFBlog’s featured NCAA basketball writer and team blogger for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Visit us on Twitter orFacebook. Email him at










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