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Ben Roethlisberger And The Deep Throw In 2010

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It's a natural tendency for humans, and particularly sports fans, to assign excessive meaning to what's most fresh in their minds. For Steeler Nation, that means Ben Roethlisberger's costly turnovers in Pittsburgh's 31-25 loss to Green Bay in Super Bowl XLIIII. Granted, Big Ben's two interceptions were huge difference-makers, but that doesn't mean they should in any way taint what was really a great season for him throwing the ball in 2010.

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Roethlisberger was 9-3 in his 12 regular-season starts, his yards per game total (266.7) was the second highest total in his career, he led the league in yards per completion (13.3). and perhaps most importantly, his interception rate (1.3 percent) was substantially lower than his previous-best mark (2.4 percent), set the season before.

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On Tuesday, Pro Football Focus published a study that looked at which quarterbacks threw the ball downfield most in 2010, and who was most effective on throws that traveled at least 20 yards in the air. So, judging by Roethlisberger's league-leading yards/completion total, one would assume he completed his fair share of deep passes, no? Let's take a look.

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Completion Percentage on Deep Throws

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Ben Roethlisberger: 25 deep completions, 69 deep attempts, 36.23 percent

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Rank: 13th

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The Top Five:

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  1. Vince Young: 45.71 %
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  3. David Garrard: 45.10%
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  5. Matt Schaub: 43.76
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  7. Philip Rivers: 42.65%
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  9. Drew Brees: 42.11
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The Bottom Five:

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  • Jason Campbell: 27.45 %
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  • Jay Cutler: 26.56 %
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  • Chad Henne: 25.00 %
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  • Alex Smith: 25.00 %
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  • Matt Cassell: 24.56 %
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Deep Throw Percentage Of Attempts

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Ben Roethlisberger: 69 deep attempts, 480 total attempts,  deep attempt percentage: 17.74

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Rank:3rd

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The Top Five:

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  1. Vince Young: 22.44 %
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  3. Aaron Rodgers: 18.11
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  5. Ben Roethlisberger: 17.74 %
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  7. Joe Flacco: 17.59 %
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  9. Michael Vick:  17.47 %
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The Bottom Five:

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  • Carson Palmer: 9.23 %
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  • Matt Ryan: 8.93 %
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  • Matt Schaub: 8.36%
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  • Chad Henne: 8.15%
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  • Sam Bradford: 6.78 %
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Interceptions on Deep Throws

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Ben Roethlisberger: 3 INTs, 4.35 percent

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Rank: 4th

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So, what to take from this data? Well, there's lots in there, but with Big Ben specifically, the numbers are pretty darn impressive. Big Ben attempted the third-most deep passes, completed an above-average percentage of those attempts, and didn't hurt his team by turning the ball over frequently when taking chances down the field in the vertical passing game.

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Remember a few weeks ago when Roethlisberger told Ed Bouchette that he and Bruce Arians wished they had more freedom to throw the ball more aggressively? Well, maybe the guy has a point.

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Because of his struggles in the Super Bowl, Big Ben will be motivated to get even better in '11. That could be a scary proposition for the league because he already took his game up a notch or two in '10 after the humiliating offseason he had at this time last year.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.