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Steelers Film Room: Ben Roethlisberger's miscues against Baltimore Ravens

Ben Roethlisberger had a rough day against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. We break down what went wrong with the Steelers' signal caller.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Roethlisberger had just led the Pittsburgh Steelers to six straight games of scoring 30 points, three of those games being against defensive units ranked inside the top five in he NFL. He was never perfect, but he was efficient enough to lead a high-powered attack across the board.

That attack went away when Roethlisberger struggled against the Baltimore Ravens, whose defensive unit was giving up almost 27 points a game in 2015. Ben completed 24 passes on 34 attempts for 215 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. It was not for a lack of opportunities as the defense kept Pittsburgh in the game without forcing a turnover despite the lack of the Steelers' high-scoring offense.

While many point to Mike Tomlin for problems that the Steelers have against teams with losing records, Roethlisberger is absolutely part of the problem in many of these losses.

First Play:

The old Ben Roethlisberger's biggest mistakes would come when he was trying to force a big play to happen and miss out on easier opportunities which opposing defenses would present. His first interception in the game was a revisit to those same problems. It is first down after two successful easy throws for Roethlisberger and he appears to have the team in a rhythm that could tie the game if they could finish the drive. Instead of taking Heath Miller for a quick 4-5 yard completion or DeAngeo Williams who is underneath Miller and could gain even more yards, Roethlisberger forces a pass to his best weapon, Antonio Brown. The problem is that Williams and Miller were open, Brown was not.

The biggest improvement that Ben has made over the years has been his pre-snap ability to recognize defenses and take what was available to move the ball down the field and score. It appeared throughout this game that Ben was not doing that nearly as much and was relying on his eyes after the snap to make reads instead of seeing what was happening before the play began. Sometimes that can work, but when you start to make mistakes, that backfires quickly.

Second Play:

At this point in the game it appeared that Roethlisberger was second-guessing himself more and more as the game went on. Here it is third down with four yards to go, so Todd Haley dials up a series of short routes for Roethlisberger to use to convert for a first down. You can see that Ben stares down Martavis Bryant at the top of the screen for most of the play. Bryant appears to have a step on his man with a slant pattern but is closely shadowed by his defender. Roethlisberger does not trust the window he sees and tries to check down to Brown, who was open earlier, but the safety reads Roethlisberger's eyes and takes away Brown, leading to a coverage sack for Baltimore.

Third Play:

This is a play which Ben seemed to have read the coverage correctly during pre-snap, but missed on the throw. Brown has the back-shoulder option open for Roethlisberger to throw to, but Ben throws the ball further down the field directly into the hands of Jimmy Smith. While you could observe that Ben had Williams open underneath on a second down play, Ben has made several throws like this all season relying on his timing with Brown. The only mistake here was where he placed the ball.


Roethlisberger's day appeared to come from confusion, whether it was because Baltimore presented new looks than they have over the past decade that he's been in the league or because he was just not prepared to face them this time, is uncertain. But what is certain is that the team needed to have the offense playing at the consistent level it had been over the past several weeks and it failed to do so in an important game.

Roethlisberger faces another familiar team this weekend in the Cleveland Browns. If the team wants to be in position for a playoff spot on the condition that they win and the Buffalo Bills defeat the New York Jets, then he will have to shake off this poor performance and fulfill the consistent field general reputation that he has earned over the years.