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Where the 2022 Steelers miss Ben Roethlisberger most

The 4th Quarter Factor has been night and day.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It’s unfair to compare Kenny Pickett to Ben Roethlisberger on any metric at this point. But a quick comparison of the 2021 and 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers offenses reveals one key factor. It can explain why last year’s team went to the playoffs, and this year’s squad is facing a generational nadir: the lack of clutch fourth quarter quarterback play.

Even though the 2021 Steelers passing attack was ranked 29th in net yards per pass attempt, Roethlisberger saved his best stuff for the fourth.

  • 132 completions in 189 attempts for a 69.8% completion rate.
  • 1,373 yards, just 100 yards less than his entire first half resume.
  • 7.3 yards per attempt, compared to the normal average that season of 5.4.
  • 12 touchdowns and only 1 interception. This is exceptional, considering Ben only had 10 TDs in the 1st three quarters combined last season.
  • 19 plays of 20+ yards.
  • A QB rating of 109.6.
  • A 46.2% conversion rate on 3rd down (31/67).

Pickett’s numbers in the fourth quarter just can’t compare.

  • 33 completions in 54 attempts for a 61.1% completion rate. His rate is 73.4% in the other 3 quarters.
  • 315 yards
  • 5.8 yards per attempt, compared to the normal average this season of 6.2.
  • Zero touchdowns. 5 interceptions and 1 fumble lost. Whether or not these are all deemed “turnover-worthy plays” for Pickett, fourth quarter turnovers are never insignificant.
  • 3 plays of 20+ yards.
  • A QB rating of 38.73.
  • A 30.7% conversion rate on 3rd down (4/13).

For those curious on how Mitch Trubisky compares in the 4th quarter this year.

  • 17 completions in 29 attempts for a 58.6% completion rate.
  • 201 yards
  • 6.9 yards per attempt. Mitch’s best here has actually been the 2nd quarter at 7.4.
  • 2 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
  • 3 plays of 20+ yards.
  • A QB rating of 102.8.
  • A 42.8% conversion rate on 3rd down (6/14).

This is not meant to compare Kenny Pickett to Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger was practically the best in all of NFL history when it came to fourth quarter comebacks. With Ben in the game, any Steelers offense had a shot in the fourth, including Matt Canada’s 2021 edition. The biggest difference between last year and now, is the lack of that fourth quarter clutch factor. One could say the identity of the 2022 offense is the exact opposite: Bizarro Ben in the fourth.

Kyle Chrise is the host of the BTSC podcast “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout.” New episodes drop every Thursday. Check out the latest episode in the player below: