Ben Roethlisberger: Analyzing How QB's Absence Impacts Steelers vs. Ravens

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IDecember 1, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 12:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a pass against the Kansas City Chiefs at Heinz Field on November 12, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

To say the Pittsburgh Steelers aren't the same team without veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger under center would be a severe understatement. 

Roethlisberger has been ruled out of Sunday's matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, according to, setting the stage for veteran backup Charlie Batch to start for the second straight week against a division rival.

Batch has certainly been around the block a few times, but he's no Ben Roethlisberger. That means that, for the second time in as many weeks, the Steelers will be limited in what they can do offensively against the Ravens.

Here, we analyze how Roethlisberger's absence impacts the Steelers in Week 13.


Deep Threat

Without Big Ben this weekend, expect Pittsburgh to struggle to get the ball downfield to its play-making wide receivers.

While Roethlisberger was averaging 7.2 yards per pass attempt before going down in Week 10, Charlie Batch is averaging just 5.9 yards per attempt after his first start at quarterback against Cleveland in Week 12. Batch's is arm strength is a huge question mark, and that means the deep threat will be nonexistent for the Steelers this weekend.

Look for both Mike Wallace (12.2 yards per reception) and Emmanuel Sanders (14.4 yards per reception) to struggle in Roethlisberger's absence on Sunday afternoon. 


Ball Security

Although Ben Roethlisberger can be sloppy with the football at times, the Steelers are a much more careful team with him under center. Roethlisberger had just four interceptions in 10 games this season.

In the two games without Big Ben, Pittsburgh has turned the ball over 11 times while forcing just one takeaway on defense. The team boasted an even turnover differential after 10 weeks, but now have a minus-10 turnover differential coming into Week 13.

Clearly, the Steelers are a more productive and less sloppy team when Roethlisberger is calling the shots and making a bulk of the decisions from the huddle and at the quarterback position.

Batch threw three interceptions last weekend against the Browns.


Overall Impact

Pittsburgh will no doubt be one-dimensional on Sunday afternoon in Baltimore. Without Roethlisberger on the field, the Steelers will rely on a 37-year-old backup who lacks the arm strength to truly challenge a quality NFL defense like the Ravens.

Even worse than being one-dimensional, though, Pittsburgh is prone to turnovers without Big Ben. The Steelers turned it over eight times in Week 12 vs. Cleveland and three times against Baltimore in Week 11. 

A team like the Ravens (21 takeaways in 2012) feasts on turnovers and will surely force one or two this weekend. 

The Steelers' only hope to avoid a third straight loss without Big Ben this weekend is to run the ball effectively, avoid turnovers and play the top-five defense they are capable of playing week in and week out. Unless that happens, Pittsburgh is primed to fall four games behind Baltimore in the AFC North.


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