The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line may have had their hands full last week when it came to run blocking against the tough New York Jets front, but the pass protection, for the most part, wasn’t all that bad, barring a couple sacks.
Of particular note was Ramon Foster, who had a rough game the week before, and was probably the team’s best lineman in pass protection a week ago. He had some lapses as a run block in this game—LeGarrette Blount’s eight-yard loss near the goal line immediately comes to mind—but his work in protecting Ben Roethlisberger was sound.
Even amid chaos around him, Foster was the last person to make a mental mistake in the passing game. Roethlisberger was brought down on a blitz by Jaiquawn Jarrett late in the first quarter, but Foster did his part, which included calling out the blitz pre-snap.
Knowing the Jets had overloaded the right side of the defense, Foster picked up the outside linebacker, in this case, Jason Babin, leaving the left tackle and tight end to his left to pick up the other two rushers who showed themselves.
He and the line gave Roethlisberger the time necessary to check the ball down to Le’Veon Bell, but when he didn’t, Jarrett rushed in and sacked him. Roethlisberger no doubt deserves as much of the blame as anybody for this result.
On the first play of the second quarter, Foster allowed the young Sheldon Richardson to beat himself on a screen pass to the left. The veteran lineman showed him the inside, and he took it, allowing Foster to keep him in check as Bell moved to the left to field the pass for a 10-yard gain.
A few plays later, Roethlisberger had to pull a Houdini to flip the ball to Bell as he was being sacked thanks to an unaccounted for safety blitz. Foster playing enforcer between center and left tackle helped keep pressure from coming up the middle. Though he technically had nobody to block, he provided great help in both directions to make sure the interior rush was held in check.
Late in the second quarter, the Steelers were trying to take advantage of a missed field goal with no timeouts left, making it imperative that the line kept Roethlisberger upright. By picking up this stunt, Foster helped realize that for a 15-yard completion to get the drive started.
The previous play burned 13 seconds, leaving 17 on the clock. The Jets once again tried to attack Foster with a stunt, scheming Richardson inside of Muhammad Wilkerson, but the left guard was ready for it and absorbed him. Roethlisberger made it interesting when he scrambled out of the pocket, but he found his target for another 15 yards and the Steelers finished the first half with points.