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Historians have always looked for key indicators in determining the outcomes of contests.
In basketball, there is rebounding, free throw shooting, and many other critical measures experts rely on to determine the quality of a team's play.
In football, quarterback rating differential and turnovers—two components that go hand in hand—both have heavy influence. The former is the gap between the rating of a team's passer against the average cumulative ratings of opposing passers. The latter speaks for itself.
So far in 2011, Houston's Matt Schaub has a passer rating of over 101, while Roethlisberger's score rests at 85.
The key difference in their play? Turnovers.
Despite dominating both of their most recent opponents (Seattle and Indianapolis), Pittsburgh had to squeak by in a nailbiter last week. Three turnovers kept the Colts game close.
Playing well and avoiding mistakes, the Seahawks fell at Heinz Field 24-0.
In both games, opposing passers were held to an anemic yards per attempt, unable to establish big gains in the air. Yet, those enemy quarterbacks avoided the momentum turning mistake.
Facing an improved Houston secondary and a fine pass rusher in Mario Williams, it is critical that Roethlisberger avoid turnovers and make smart decisions. Naturally, Ben's skill set requires taking a few chances, especially downfield, but those risks must be well-timed and opportunistically executed.
It's all about the where, when, and how—which is typically related to the who.
Typically, with his voluminous gains and backbreaking key plays, Ben is the difference in Steelers wins.
With a few flubs in early weeks, a bit of premature hysteria has made impatient fans anxious. And, who can blame them? With the window of opportunity still open for championship football, no win can be wasted!
On top of Ben's mistakes, the defense has not forced a single passer into an interception. Matt Schaub's weapons allow him the playmaking luxury not afforded to most quarterbacks. Getting pressure and forcing a key mistake will be critical for the defense!
In a season where interceptions have weighed down No. 7's performance, an encore performance must be avoided to obtain an road victory in Houston. By avoiding untimely turnovers and achieving sound play at quarterback, Pittsburgh will accomplish two key indicators toward victory.
It'll be like reviving two birds with one breath!