Much has been written in recent times about Ben Roethlisberger’s struggles on the road for the Pittsburgh Steelers when compared to his home performances, and it appears another chapter will be added in 2018 if the first game of the season is anything to go by. As exceptional as Big Ben frequently plays on home turf, away matchups have been less kind to him lately and that variance was once again on display against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1.
While it would be unfair to blame the outcome purely on Roethlisberger, five turnovers will be credited to him at the end of the day, even if he wasn’t technically responsible for all of them. A total of 335 yards passing is decent, but 23 completions in 43 attempts is not. Neither is a ratio of three interceptions to one touchdown.
The weather might have been terrible, but so were some of his throws. The timing of several of the turnovers was heartbreaking too, often coming at critical moments or at critical positions on the field. The first interception came with the ball at the Browns’ 18-yard line in the middle of the first quarter, almost certainly taking points off the board — his third with the ball on Cleveland’s 37 yard line as the team was driving near the end of the first half.
If the Steelers had a shot in the dying seconds of the game, it went out of the window when Roethlisberger fumbled with 48 seconds left in overtime and the ball at his own 38-yard line. Plays were left on the field when he missed open targets, and it would be fair to question if his limited action in the preseason hadn’t left him a little rusty early in the game.
Whether by design or circumstance, Justin Hunter was the surprising target for a number of passes on the day and it’s clear the two players don’t have the kind of chemistry Roethlisberger enjoys with Antonio Brown or JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Set to face the Kansas City Chiefs at Heinz Field in Week 2, Steelers Nation should be looking forward to seeing the home version of Big Ben next Sunday.