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Steelers-Chiefs: Alex Smith and Ben Roethlisberger’s history in bad weather

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NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

If the weather reports are correct, it’s going to be one hell of a nasty day when the Chiefs host the Steelers on Sunday. Given the weather conditions I wanted to take a look at how both starting quarterbacks have fared in poor weather.

Using weather data from NFLWeather.com and statistics from Pro Football Reference I was able to get some insight into how each quarterback has played in poor weather conditions.

For anyone who is curious, I considered poor weather conditions to be any game where it was snowing or raining AND the temperature was below 50 degrees. NFLWeather.com had data from 2009 onward, so all of the data is from the 2009 season and later. Not a complete picture but it’s what we got.

Alex Smith

Amazingly, Alex Smith has only played in three games since 2009 where inclement weather was present. Each game was with the Chiefs.

Alex Smith in Bad Weather

Date Opponent Temp Cond Attempts Comp Cmp% Yards TDs INTs Rating
Date Opponent Temp Cond Attempts Comp Cmp% Yards TDs INTs Rating
12/8/13 @ Redskins 28 Snow, Freezing Rain 14 20 0.70 137 2 0 122.3
11/9/2014 @ Bills 41 Light Rain 17 29 0.59 177 0 0 76.4
11/29/2015 Bills 34 Light Rain 19 30 0.63 255 2 0 112.5

Alex Smith has averaged 190 yards, a 64 percent completion percentage, 1.3 TDs, 0 INTs, and a quarterback rating of 103.7. (Note, these are game averages, and not total averages.)

It’s a small sample size, but Smith has been very efficient in bad weather games.

Big Ben

Roethlisberger has played in 10 bad weather games since 2009. Seven of the games were at home, and three of them were on the road.

One of the notable games is a 2012 game in Pittsburgh against the Chiefs where Big Ben threw for 84 yards on 18 attempts and was knocked out of the game by Justin Houston early in the third quarter.

For the sake of keeping this article from having a 500-ish line table, you can see the data for Big Ben’s games here.

Roethlisberger has averaged 215 yards, a 60 percent completion percentage, 1.4 TDs, 0.6 INTs, and a quarterback rating of 86.4.

Since the Steelers will be playing on the road, in three road games Roethlisberger has averaged 201 yards, a 59 percent completion percentage, 1.3 TDs, 1.3 INTs, and a 74.5 quarterback rating in inclement weather games.

It’s a small sample size, but Big Ben really has not played as well on the road in adverse conditions.

Hand Size

One common thought in the NFL is that a QBs hand size effects how they will play in cold weather. Alex Smith’s hands are 9 3/8 inches - which is about average for an NFL QB. Smith doesn’t have small hands so he should be able to handle the ball well in bad weather.

I scoured the internet to find Big Ben’s hand size, but could not find information anywhere. Eventually I came across an article that stated Roethlisberger’s hand size was denied to the public during the combine. What are you hiding Ben?

Final Thoughts

There isn’t a massive amount of data, but the small sample gives the advantage to Alex Smith.

One possible theory as to why Alex Smith has played better in poor weather than Big Ben may be due to each quarterback’s style of play. Alex Smith primarily uses quick, precise, and short passes which should cut down bad weather’s effect on the ball. Roethlisberger on the other hand airs the ball out and there is more time for the ball to be affected by poor weather the longer it is in the air.

Maybe there is something behind Big Ben’s hand size not available ...