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Pro Football Focus ranks Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger the NFL's best against pressure in 2014

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Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisbeger has long seemed to thrive on high-pressure situations, often making some of his most memorable plays while being chased around -- and out of -- the pocket. According to Pro Football Focus, 2014 was more of the same for the hard-to-handle gunslinger.

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Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Full disclosure: this article references three different pieces of information from Pro football Focus -- the Tweet above, and these (link) two (link) articles about 2014 NFL quarterbacks under pressure. They all have slightly different information. But they all have one thing in common.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is very, very good under pressure.

The idea of "under pressure" is entirely subjective, of course. So it stands to reason that one person's idea of "under pressure" would differ slightly from someone else's perspective of it. As a Steelers fan in 2011, my idea of "under pressure" doubtless differed from my view of it today, as the protection around Roethlisberger is markedly better now.  Four years ago, I may have been inclined to think he wasn't under pressure until he had already taken his first hit.  Now, I feel like he's under pressure if he holds the ball more than two seconds. Still, I'd think there would at least be a common message from one site.

Heck, I bet David Bowie and Freddie Mercury even had different definitions for "under pressure." But I digress.

The differences don't really change the conclusion, though.  For instance, the Tweet claims his rating under pressure to be 120.3, while one of the links says 112.2. One link says he threw 11 touchdowns to zero interceptions, while the other says he had one interception.

They all agree on one important fact, though: Ben was the best in the NFL under pressure, and it wasn't even close.

The astounding part of it all is that he faced less than the league average of pressure plays, yet managed to throw more touchdowns than all but Jay Cutler. Cutler, it should be noted, faced pressure 30.7 percent of the time, while Roethlisberger found himself hurried just 27.9 percent of his dropbacks. Or 27.3. It depends, once again, on which link you look at. In the end, it points to the idea that teams know how good Roethlisberger is under pressure, and they try to restrain themselves, but coaches still think it necessary to test him once in a while. It should be pretty obvious by now this is only inviting disaster. Yet, somehow, it continues.

He actually is better under pressure than not. His rating -- let's assume the 120.3 reported in June, as it's the most current number -- was 22 points higher than his 98.4 when not pressured.  He threw 11 of his 32 touchdowns under pressure, good for 34.3 percent of all his touchdowns, even though he was only pressured 27.9 percent of the time.  And, at worst, his one interception under pressure amounted to just 11.1 percent of his nine interceptions on the season. That's all indicative of a highly instinctual quarterback, and that helps explain why he has been so dependable in his career on potential game-winning drives.

If you are having trouble picturing it, there's always Super Bowl XLIII. Just sayin'.

Roethlisberger was no slouch without pressure, either: he ranked fourth, by PFF's measure.

As for the rest of the AFC North, Joe Flacco of the Ravens was seventh without pressure, well above the league average, but 27th under pressure, well below the average. Andy Dalton of the Bengals was 27th without pressure, and 31st with pressure.  The illusion that he is a franchise quarterback may finally be fading.

And, of course, the Browns do again what the Browns do best: bring up the rear. Brian Hoyer, the only one of their quarterbacks to have played enough to make the list, wound up one spot better than Dalton (30th) under pressure, but was a dreadful 32nd when he faced no pressure. With a nearly all-world offensive line in Cleveland, that should be unacceptable -- except that their replacement for Hoyer in 2015 is Josh McCown, who was 24th with no pressure in 2014, but an abysmal 36th when hurried. Perhaps the McCown-for-Hoyer switch was a lateral move, at best.

If past performance is any indicator, don't expect things to change much for Roethlisberger in 2015.  Probably not for the rest of the AFC North, either.