Roethlisberger on crash: 'I almost lost my life' Associated Press
Updated: June 12, 2007, 6:52 PM ET
PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger didn't have any problem recalling the significance of June 12. It's been circled on his calendar for nearly a year. I marked it down today on the calendar as one year and then tomorrow I had, 'Hopefully, no more talking about it.' Ben Roethlisberger
So, while the Steelers were holding a voluntary team workout Tuesday at Heinz Field -- spending a day away from their practice complex -- their quarterback was remembering where he was a year ago to the day.
That day he crashed his motorcycle into the side of a car that failed to yield the right of way at a busy Pittsburgh intersection, causing a scary accident in which the helmet-less Roethlisberger lost considerable blood -- and, with it, nearly was killed.
"This is the day last year that, uh, I almost lost my life. ... I had it marked on the calendar," Roethlisberger said as the Steelers wound down their offseason drills. "I marked it down today on the calendar as one year and then tomorrow I had, 'Hopefully, no more talking about it.'"
Finally, he hopes, the talk and the memories are fading about a much-debated accident that occurred only four months after he led the Steelers to their first Super Bowl title in 26 years. Many Steelers fans were upset that Roethlisberger, arguably the most valuable player during the Super Bowl run, carelessly exposed himself to injury by not wearing a helmet.
"It's over with, it's done with, and, hopefully, now that it's a year over with, people will stop talking about it," he said.
As a result of the crash, Roethlisberger insists he no longer rides motorcycles -- he has not been photographed doing so since that day -- and limits himself to the occasional 10-speed bicycle ride.
The 25-year-old Roethlisberger was asked to do public service ads advocating the use of a helmet while riding a motorcycle in Pennsylvania, but declined to do so.
"I think it's every person's decision, whatever they want to do," he said.
Roethlisberger needed seven hours of surgery to repair his facial injuries. He also had a concussion and some internal injuries. He could not work out in the weeks leading to training camp but, surprisingly, never missed a day of camp because of the crash. Instead, an appendicitis attack caused him to miss the Sept. 7 opener against Miami.
When he returned, Roethlisberger was much more mistake prone and looked restless in the pocket all season. Former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, now the Arizona Cardinals coach, believes the accident and its aftermath may have negatively affected Roethlisberger's play.
"Looking back, I'm sure it did," Whisenhunt said. "Maybe it took a little longer for him to get over that than we thought. You could tell early in the season, he just wasn't as comfortable as he was before."
The quarterback's statistics were much worse a season ago than in his first two seasons, and the Steelers went from winning the Super Bowl to missing the playoffs with an 8-8 record.
Roethlisberger finished with 18 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions, compared to 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions the season before. His quarterback rating dropped from 98.6 in 2005, third best among NFL starting quarterbacks, to 75.4 -- putting him 29th among QBs with 100 or more attempts.
However, Roethlisberger disputes Whisenhunt's notion and is convinced that bad throwing, not bad injuries, were to blame for his falloff in production.
"A lot of good things and some bad things [happened since last year], but I'm blessed, I truly am, to be out here," Roethlisberger said Tuesday. "It's a beautiful day to be on this football field with my teammates."
Let's discuss this primary argument, the theory that Roethlisberger struggles when he must throw more than 25 passes per game.
In his three year career, Roethlisberger has started 40 games and played in 41 -- the 41st was a transitional game (the first of his career), so I will choose not to include it in the statistics, nor will post-season games be included. And in those 40 starts, Roethlisberger has thrown more than 25 passes on 16 occasions, 40% of the time. Interestingly, 10 of those occasions occurred last season.
His record in those 16 games is 6-10, or about 38%. Last season he was 3-7, or .300, which means he was out of character, right? That does, after all, mean that his record the two previous seasons was 3-3, or an even .500.
Before I move on, understand that his record in games in which he threw 25 or fewer passes is 23-1 (5-1 last season). That deserves repeating: 23-1. A .958 record. These are not games during which he necessarily posts a 90+ quarterback rating, either. In fact, on 5 of the 24 occasions, his rating was sub-80. And on 4 occasions it was sub-70. Granted, those are small percentages (21% and 17%, respectively), but it still means the team gets by when his ratings are down.
When don't they get by? When Roethlisberger makes mental mistakes and throws interceptions, something that happened frequently last season. Throughout his career, his record is 4-9 when he throws 2 or more interceptions in one game. And he throws more interceptions in games in which he is relied on to throw more passes.
Makes sense, right? More passes = more interceptions? Natural thing, right? Not exactly.
His interception percentage (the number of interceptions he throws, per pass attempt) is .0225% (11/488) when he throws 25 or fewer passes per game; about once every 44 attempts. At a rate of 25 or fewer passes per game, that means he throws one interception every two games, on average. But that number leaps to .0551% (30/544) when he is called on to throw more than that, which is about once every 18 attempts.
Add all these statistics together and it seems evidence is overwhelming that Roethlisberger struggles when he is depended on to carry an offense. This is natural for all quarterbacks. Hey, the kid's only played three seasons. But the problem is, every fan has high expectations for him after he took the NFL by storm his rookie season, not losing a start until the post-season.
That article is flawed. Cowher only threw a lot when they got behind. When you're behind, you're going to throw more interceptions playing catch-up with the defense playing pass than you are in a ball control offense. That's just nature and is probably true of most QBs...