There were several key plays made in the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday win over the Cincinnati Bengals but when asked Tuesday morning if he could name one that was the turning point of that contest, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said it was his 3rd and 17 completion to tight end Ladarius Green with (13:56) left in the third quarter.
“I’ll tell you one that I thought was a really, really big one and that helped was that third and maybe 17 on the sideline to Ladarius, said Roethlisberger on 93.7 the Fan. “I think it was the first drive of the second half. it’s a third down play and if we don’t get it we’ve got to punt, field position changes, I mean everything changes. So, you don’t really know what’s going to happen and Ladarius catches that ball in what we call the turkey hole shot on the sideline, moves the chains and that was big for us.”
You can see the all-22 view of that play below that came against a two-deep safety coverage by the Bengals defense. That play moved the chains and got the Steelers offense much better field position and the drive ultimately culminated in a field goal that made it a one possession game.
While that Roethlisberger to Green connection early in the third quarter went smooth, one failed hookup between the two players early in the game obviously didn’t and Roethlisberger was asked what it is that he said to Green after the two went to sideline.
“It was a play where he had a switch-release and was going up the seam and the guy that was covering him was actually [Vontaze] Burfict and he was in the line of scrimmage in what we call a double A-gap blitz look,” explained Roethlisberger. “So, Ladarius, I just talked to him and told him, ‘hey, listen, your guy that’s covering you is basically over the center. You’re fast and with your speed, you need to get up that seam as fast as you can because I’m going to get you the ball as quick as possible because he’s trailing you. It’s basically like running a race and you have a head start.’
“So, it was just more talking to him to tell him what I was thinking on that because I don’t think he was quite expecting to get the ball as quick as he was and he was looking more to try and get up the seam away from the slot-guy. But the slot-guy went with Eli [Rogers], who went inside.”
You can see the all-22 view of that play below to see what Roethlisberger is describing.
“It was more just us communicating on where he should have been in that exact situation, which is what I was talking about in your last question about Ladarius is those are plays early in the game that we weren’t quite together but that he steps up late in the game to make the big plays that we need, which was huge,” Roethlisberger said.
Being as Green missed so much time this season on the team’s Reserve/Injured list due to his ankle injury, it appears as though he’s still not completely on the same page with Roethlisberger with two regular season games remaining and that’s not overly surprising.
Green is currently questionable for Sunday’s home game against the Baltimore Ravens due to him being in concussion protocol and Roethlisberger talked Tuesday about his future status.
“We’re going to hold out hope,” Roethlisberger said of Green’s status this week. “Obviously, he’s a very tough guy. To fight back with what he’s fought back against to get out there this year and play as well as he has is huge for us. I just talked to him and told him that I was so proud of the way that he played, the way that he bounced back. You know we missed a couple of things early in the game and he came through and made some huge plays for us, so I just told him that I was proud of him, loved him and wished him the best and praying for him and things like that.”