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Roethlisberger shining on third downs

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By Mike Wilkening

It’s early, but the Steelers’ ability to convert on third downs again shapes up as a strength. Through two games, they were an NFL-best 19-of-34 on third downs (55.9 percent) after ranking fourth in this category (45.9 percent) in 2011. A big reason for the Steelers’ success — and the primary reason they will be dangerous on third downs no matter their game- or season-long conversion rate — is QB Ben Roethlisberger. He has been outstanding on third downs to begin the campaign. To wit: On 14 3rd-down plays of seven yards or more (excluding those nullified by penalty), Roethlisberger has completed 11-of-12 passes attempted. Eight plays have gone for first downs, and another went for a touchdown. The way we hear it, Roethlisberger’s complete skill set helps him on third downs. His ability to make plays on the move is no secret, but his arm strength and accuracy can’t be overlooked, either. Moreover, as one league source familiar with the Steelers noted, Roethlisberger isn’t going to force the ball to any one target, and everyone in the huddle knows it. 

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