Notes from the QB Meter: Ben Roethlisberger’s Big Day

You all know I love NFL Quarterback statistics. You might not know that I keep a “QB Meter” spreadsheet which I update every week. It started after Peyton Manning made the jump to Denver and the Indianapolis Star website stopped carrying their “Manning Meter” which tracked everything Manning, ranked him on the all-time stats lists and projected when he would break records in major categories. As a Colts fan, I decided I needed a Manning meter of my own. Then I branched out and made a meter that compared Manning and Andrew Luck at the same point in their careers. I also made a meter of Colts QBs. Finally, I made a big, sortable list of QBs which contained active starters of 20+ games and top 10 historic QBs in most major passing categories. I update it after every week (with my thanks as always to pro-football-reference) and take a look to see if there is anything notable.

Hence, Notes from the QB Meter.

Having jinxed Aaron Rodgers by featuring him last week maybe I can do the same for Ben Roethlisberger and get some measure of revenge for him deciding to have the best game of his career against my Colts. It was seriously painful to watch how little pressure the Colts put on Roethlisberger, allowing him to stand there forever and throw from flat feet, as if he were “having a catch” with Kevin Costner. He went 40/49 (81.6%) for 522 yards and 6 TDs. And he did it all while wearing what might be the ugliest throwback uniform in the NFL. Sounds like a career day, but was it?

Roethlisberger has never completed more passes in a game. He’s attempted more twice, but has never passed 80% with more than 25 attempts. Actually, with this game, he’s the only QB in history to complete more than 80% of his passes on 49 or more attempts. Only 3 other QBs since 1960 have completed more than 75% of passes with 49 or more attempts. Also, only five QBs have completed 40+ passes without throwing an INT.

Roethlisberger has never had more TDs in a game, notching 5 twice before, but never hitting 6. Now, he’s not the only QB to hit 6 TDs (seven men have thrown 7), but he’s one of 23 men to do it, which is still pretty elite company. He’s also one of six to do it without throwing an INT.

Roethlisberger has never had more yards in a game, but he’s now the only QB in NFL history to throw for over 500 yards twice (he threw for 503 against the Packers in 2009). That seems strange, not that he’s the one to do it, but that it hasn’t been done before. Only 14 other men have hit 500 before, and only one of them is named Manning (and it’s not the Manning you think). Only Warren Moon and and Y.A. Tittle threw for over 500 without tossing an INT. Ben has done it twice.

Taken individually, these stats are pretty impressive on their own, but the fact that Roethlisberger hit them all in the same game makes this so much more notable. Sure, it remains to be seen whether this pulls the Steelers back from the brink and steers them into the playoffs (go Browns!), but heck, if I cared about postseason accomplishments, I wouldn’t be a Peyton Manning fan.

And as a Colts fan, Andrew Luck was no slouch, offering 400 yards of his own. It’s not quite the 1000 combined passing yards for the Lions and Packers (a 6-TD winning effort for Matt Flynn and a 5-TD losing effort for Stafford in 2012), but 922 is up there.


Other Notes from the QB Meter

Tom Brady had a pretty great day as well, going 30/35 for 354 yards, 5 TDs and no INT. Only Brees, Gannon and Peyton have higher cmp% with 35+ attempts, but only Brees threw for 5 TDs (though he had had fewer yards).


Take a look at the game totals for the two QBs who started the NYJ/BUF game:

QB cmp att cmp% yards TD INT A Y/A rate
Orton 10 17 58.82% 238 4 0 18.71 142.8
G. Smith 2 8 25.00% 5 0 3 -16.25 0.0

That’s the highest passer rating of Kyle Orton’s career, the highest adjusted yards/attempt (by more than 6) and only the second time he’s thrown for 4 TDs. He’s no Ben Roethlisberger, but you could call this a career game for Orton…if it wasn’t against the lowly Jets.

Now, Geno Smith didn’t stay in the game, and Michael Vick improved the passing numbers a little bit, but let’s have some fun with Smith’s performance. Smith was 3/8 for 39 yards to the other team. 15 other men have thrown 3 INTs on 8 or fewer attempts (with two never completing a pass to their own team and one of them only attempting 4 passes–oh, and two managing to get TDs). Smith was pulled after his 3rd INT, only 10:20 into the game. Unfortunately, there is no play-by-play data available to see if anyone lasted a shorter amount of time, that’s because nobody has done so poorly in such limited play since 1997.


With the Broncos’ win over San Diego Peyton brought his career win% to 70.04%. Again, I know it’s a team sport and crediting QBs with wins is questionable.

Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick are the only other active long-term starters above 70%.


The Detroit Lions are on pace to have their best season since Matthew Stafford arrived in town. Stafford himself is on pace to have his lowest full-season totals in pretty much everything. Is there a correlation? I doubt it. After all, Detroit started the 2011 season 6-2 and finished 10-6. They started the 2013 season 5-3 and finished 7-9. Just for fun (and to make another table!) lets look at the new Matthew Stafford.

Stafford cmp att cmp% yards TD INT
2011-2013 avg. 409 675 60.59% 4885 30 17
2014 (proj.) 366 598 61.20 4432 22 14

This tells us absolutely nothing. Still, it might mean that Stafford is slowing down and could lose the lead in attempts per game (40.52) and yards per game (285.12).


A little bit late on this, but after his week 7 game vs. Green Bay, Drew Brees passed Chad Pennington for highest career completion percentage (minimum 1500 attempts). He’s currently at 66.08% to Pennington’s 66.05%. Rodgers is close behind at 65.96%. Peyton is next at 66.56%. He’s at 68.54% as a Bronco, but needs 6 more attempts to hit 1500. Brees is at 67.40% as a Saint.

For the record, 2 time Comeback Player of the Year Pennington peaked (post-1500) at 66.06% and would’ve stayed there had he not come back for one final start in 2010 where he went 1/2 before leaving with an injury. Oh, and Pennington hit that peak in 88 games. It took Brees 194. I like Chad Pennington.

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