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Film Room: The struggle is real for Big Ben

Ben Roethlisberger can still make some big throws, but in 2018 he has had some bad misses and poor decisions.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Roethlisberger has made some good throws this season, but he has struggled with his consistency. He has had good games and bad games, but even in his better games his play has been erratic.

In three games against the Buccaneers, Chiefs, and Falcons, Roethlisberger threw for nine touchdowns and 2 interceptions. In each of those games he completed more than 65% of his passes in each (including completing 78% against the Buccaneers) and had a passer rating over 100.

Contrast that with the other two games between which he threw 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He completed 56% of his passes in one game and 57% in the other. His quarterback rating was 60.5 in one game and 72.5 in the other. Those two games were played against arguably the two best defenses he has seen to this point: the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens.

Here is a look at some of his worst plays in one of his best games. Roethlisberger has some major lapses in accuracy this season. The clip below is the type of plays you see several times every weekend. The Steelers are trying to get the ball to one of their play makers in space so Roethlisberger takes one step and throws the ball to Antonio Brown who is running the bubble with blockers in front of him. This ball should be thrown in front of Brown, to allow him to quickly run up field, but Roethlisberger throws the ball high and behind Brown. Brown has to turn quickly to attempt to make the catch, but he is not able to haul it in.

This is another ball that is way off target. Roethlisberger is trying to get the ball to tight end Vance McDonald on a crossing route. This throw should be put in front of McDonald allowing him to turn up field, but with pressure in his face Roethlisberger sails it over McDonald’s head. Considering that he couldn’t step into his throw, this is not the easiest pass, but it is still a bad miss for a highly regarded quarterback.

But it’s not just his accuracy that comes and goes. Roethlisberger has had some major lapses in decision-making as well. Again dealing with pressure, Roethlisberger shuffles out of the pocket and throws the ball deep attempting to hook up with tight end Jessie James. This is a bad decision. It is Cover 1 and Falcons linebacker Duke Riley is covering James pretty tightly with Falcons safety Jordan Richards right over the top of him. It was a dangerous throw and one that by all rights should have been picked off.

After not finding anyone else open on this play, Roethlisberger tries to force the ball to Brown. This is a bad decision, but if he was going to throw this pass, he at least could have put the ball outside, away from the defender. The ball is nearly picked off by Falcons corner back Desmond Trufant, and in reality never really had a chance of being caught by Brown.

Roethlisberger’s worst plays seem to come in waves. Case and point: the very next play after nearly throwing a goal line interception (above), Roethlisberger threw a horrendous pick. Not finding any open receivers initially, Roethliosberger slides out of the pocket to his left and seems to be trying to direct his receivers where to go. He then lobs the ball up to Brown who is bracketed by two defenders and safety Damontae Kazee comes down with the interception for the Falcons.

In a vacuum, this is an awful play for Roethlisberger, but is even worse when the situation is considered. It was second and goal with less than 30 seconds in the first half. The Steelers were down by 3. If Roethlisberger threw the ball away, they would have had one more shot at the touchdown, but worse case scenario they could have kicked a field goal and went into halftime with the game tied.

It is important to remember that these clips were taken from one of Roethlisberger’s best games this season in which he faced a depleted Falcons defense. For as much as he apparently disliked Todd Haley, he does not seem comfortable in Randy Fichtner’s offense. With his accuracy and decision-making issues, this could be a big week for the Bengals defense.