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Big Ben Is Quietly Putting Together A Remarkable Season

Big Ben is obviously putting together a career year for himself - he has already surpassed his previous career high for TD passes by the midway point of the season. But after last night's game, Roethlisberger is mathmatically on pace for a somewhat historic season by any quarterback.

Now of course there's that guy Tom Brady lapping the field, but forget about him for a second. There can be more than one QB who posts a remarkable statistical season, and Big Ben is on pace for one of the more efficient and productive seasons for a QB ever.

First, the TD passes:  

You watch your mouth, I heard that. That's only my second time ever on that dump they call MS Paint

At the midway point, Ben's at 20 TDs. Could he really get to 40 and finish with a top-5 season ever in that department? Let's take a look at the schedule to see what kind of defenses we'll be facing the next two months:

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh @ New York Jets

Miami @ Pittsburgh

Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh @ New England

Jacksonville @ Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh @ St. Louis

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore

I see four lousy defenses in that group - Cleveland, Miami, Cincy, St. Louis; one below average defense - NYJ; two supposedly great defenses - New England and Baltimore; and one mystery D in Jacksonville that has gotten pushed around the past two weeks. Basically it's a wash: both the first and second halves of our season have similar elements: tests, traps, and cupcakes, more or less in equal parts.

Here's one piece of data however that makes me believe his TD numbers will taper off: the low % of team TDs that have been rushing. Despite being the 5th-highest scoring offense in the league, the Steelers are only tied for 18th in rushing TDs with just 5. Unless we keep connecting on long TD passes, I'd guess that the distribution would begin to even out. Last year we had 16 rush TDs despite throwing the ball what seemed to be every down in many games. In our Super Bowl year, we punched it in on the ground 21 times, and in 2004, FWP's first year, the Steelers had 16 rushing TDs.

Each year is different - different coaches and changing personnel. Still, I can't see this team finishing the year with just 10 rushing TDs. If not, some of the drives that resulted in passing TDs during the first half would be lost to the rushing game, assuming all other variables (i.e. our total scoring output) remain constant.

What about Big Ben's efficiency this year, as measured by the potentially mis-leading and controversial stat, the quarterback rating? --click through for an interesting read on the system's flaws and some proposals to make it more representative of a QB's performance and effect on particular games.

Ben's rating rests at 111.9. How good would that number stack up historically if it held?

How about fourth best in the past 30 years (and probably even longer, I just stopped going through the league leaders year by year at 1977). The top-3:

1) Peyton Manning 2004: 121.1

2) Steve Young: 1994: 112.8

3) Joe Montana: 1989: 112.4

Not bad company to keep huh?

Honestly, these exercises are worth little more than some fun and exposure to some interesting data submitted by players in years past. I'll finish with one more: remeber how sick Kurt Warner's numbers were in 1999?. Big Ben's actually on pace, minus 800 yards or so passing, for a very similar season in TDs, rating, and completion %. Crazy.

2006 suddenly seems like a distant memory

Anyway, this was fun. It's not meant to be taken overly seriously. Only half the evidence is in, and who knows what's in store for the second half. One thing is clear though: Big Ben just finished a fantastic 1/2 season of football, coming off a year where he made everyone's All-Dud and Most-Overrated List.

Welcome back to where you belong, Ben.