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Crunching the Numbers: Big stats and playoff wins don’t always go hand-in-hand

Ben Roethlisberger has much lower numbers in post season games where the Steelers are victorious.

Indianapolis Colts v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are headed into the 2020 NFL postseason and are about as healthy as one could expect. Ben Roethlisberger, along with three other Steelers’ captains, were able to take off in Week 17 in order to get some rest for their playoff run. With the Steelers running game being almost nonexistent, the success of the Steelers offense lies very heavily on Ben Roethlisberger’s shoulders.

Interestingly enough, when looking at Roethlisberger‘s playoff performances over his career, in games the Steelers were victorious are not necessarily the games in which Roethlisberger produces the best statistics. With a 13–8 playoff record, it’s quite surprising how much Steelers’ postseason success comes when Roethlisberger does not have to carry so much of the load.

In this installment of Crunching the Numbers, we’ll take a look at how Ben Roethlisberger’s numbers haves compared in playoff wins vs. playoff losses.


In order to compare how Ben Roethlisberger does in playoff wins versus playoff losses, it’s good to look at a baseline number. For his career, Roethlisberger average is 250.3 yards per game passing in the postseason. His completion percentage overall is 62.4% in his 21 career playoff games. On average, Roethlisberger also gets 120.3 rushing yards per game to support his passing attack.


In the eight playoff losses in Roethlisberger‘s career, he averages 321.4 passing yards per game. In these losses, Roethlisberger completes 64.0% of his passes and the Steelers running game does not offer as much support as they average 97.3 yards per game.


In the 13 playoff victories in Roethlisberger‘s career, he average is only 206.5 yards per game through the air and has a completion percentage of 60.9%. In these games, Roethlisberger also gets a lot of support from the running game where it averages 134.5 yards per game.


To get even more specific, in the 6 home playoff wins in Roethlisberger’s career, he doesn’t even average 200 yards passing and has only gone over the 200 yard mark twice. With an average of 195.5 passing yards per game, Roethlisberger only has completed 58.2% of his passes in home playoff wins while getting 137.7 rushing yards per game in support.


In his playoff career, Ben Roethlisberger has never thrown for more than 275 yards in which the Steelers were victorious. Roethlisberger hit the 275 yard mark in the 2005 AFC championship game in Denver against the Broncos. The only other games in which Roethlisberger has passed for more than 250 yards in a playoff win were in Super Bowl XLIII and the 2008 AFC Championship Game. The most yards Roethlisberger has ever thrown in a Wild Card win was 229 against the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2015 postseason.


The most completions Roethlisberger has ever had in a playoff win is 21 which he has achieved two separate times. Roethlisberger completed 21 passes in the 2005 AFC championship game in Denver as well as Super Bowl XLIII. The fewest completions Roethlisberger has ever had in a playoff victory was 9 in Super Bowl XL.


The most passing attempts Rothlisberger has ever had in a playoff victory was 33 in the 2008 AFC championship game against the Baltimore Ravens. In that game, Roethlisberger only completed 16 passes and had a completion percentage of 48.5%.


The most touchdowns Rothlisberger has ever thrown in a playoff victory for the Steelers was in the 2005 Wild Card against the Cincinnati Bengals. Throwing for 3 touchdowns, it’s only one of five games in which Roethlisberger has thrown multiple touchdowns in a playoff win. On the other end of the spectrum, Roethlisberger has won 3 playoff games without throwing a touchdown pass.

So there are some numbers in regards to Ben Roethlisberger in winning performances in the postseason. While sticking strictly with Rothlisberger‘s numbers, I thought it was important to also explain how much he was getting in support in the run game. With the Steelers struggling to run the ball the second half of the 2020 season, expecting Roethlisberger to pull out a win with low passing statistics does not seem probable the way this team is designed. But with such an impressive Steelers defense, anything is possible.

So will a big game by Ben Roethlisberger lead to a Steelers victory against Cleveland Sunday night, or will the Steelers passing statistics look much like those in Week 6 (14 of 22 for 162) when they had a decisive win over the Browns? Regardless of the statistics, the most important thing when it comes to the postseason is finding a way to win no matter what.