Ben Roethlisberger fell into 18th place on the NFL Top 100 list last night. Each player gets a brief video with teammates and players around the league talking about what makes them great. For Roethlisberger, we got a look inside the playbook, courtesy of JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Smith-Schuster actually references two plays in the video but our focus here will be on the 97 yard catch-and-run against the Detroit Lions. That play was the result of receiver and quarterback getting on the same page after the Lions gave them the same look earlier in the game.
“Before that play actually, we went inside the locker room,” Smith-Schuster said. “I was like, ‘Ben, when I run that seam route, instead of me going out and in, I’m going straight in and beat him over the top.’ We go out there, literally get the same coverage, the same play. I did exactly what I told him I was going to do – go straight in and beat him over the top. He delivered the ball and I went 97 yards.”
The video referenced the play, an incompletion to Justin Hunter a quarter earlier. A two-high look with Smith-Schuster one-on-one with the nickel corner, but unable to beat him over the top. JuJu is at the top of the screen in the slot.
As Smith-Schuster says in the video, he told Roethlisberger the adjustment he’d make, running inside and then stemming upfield to win vertically. Pre-snap, Roethlisberger pointed the look out, the two getting on the same page, and then he threw a dime to JuJu, who did the rest. Again, he’s at the top.
It’s a cool look we don’t often get, especially from a tight-lipped team like the Steelers. And a reminder that football is a chess game and often, a play or look earlier in the game sets up something else later. In this case, a franchise-setting moment for quarterback, receiver, and team.