PITTSBURGH – The Steelers’ penchant for the deep ball showed up in a big way Sunday night. The Colts couldn’t contain the Steelers’ raw speed on the outside, and Ben Roethlisberger took advantage with several deep-ball attempts, including a 50-yarder to Antonio Brown as the receiver split double coverage.
This has been a theme all year for the Steelers, who are willing to leave the field on third-and-short to preserve the sanctity of the favorable matchup down the sideline.
“We’re not afraid to take shots,” Roethlisberger said.
Thanks to trusty work from ESPN’s Stats & Info, the numbers show Roethlisberger’s arm gets more work than any other quarterback.
On average, Roethlisberger’s passes travel 10.7 yards in the air before reaching the receiver, which is tops in the league.
Here are the four quarterbacks with at least a 10.0 average.
Carson Palmer: 10.4
Cam Newton: 10.4
Tyrod Taylor: 10.0
Let’s have some fun with numbers -- with 305 passing attempts on the year, Roethlisberger’s footballs have traveled 3,234 yards, or 9,792 feet. Break that down by Roethlisberger’s eight games, and he’s throwing the ball 1,224 feet per game, or 0.23 miles.
He’s throwing the football longer than most brisk walks. He’s throwing longer than Pittsburgh’s famous Fort Pitt Bridge, which stretches 1,207 feet.
A quarter-mile is around 440 yards a game, which is a lot based solely on aerial yardage (no yards after the catch)
Roethlisberger’s timing and accuracy on the deep ball makes this strategy work. Steelers receivers say they like the air Roethlisberger puts on the ball, so they can get under it, but the raw athleticism on the outside is a catalyst.
“Pretty good group of weapons out there we’re trying to get the ball to,” guard David DeCastro said. “We sure did that [Sunday].”