Over the course of the past four games, as the Pittsburgh Steelers have continued to win, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has only been sacked two times. Neither the Atlanta Falcons nor the Cincinnati Bengals got to him once before the bye week. The Cleveland Browns—Myles Garrett, specifically—brought him down one time, and the Baltimore Ravens notched one sack against him on Sunday.
But it shouldn’t count, according to Roethlisberger. After Sunday’s game, he said of the offensive line, “I think the whole line’s playing spectacular. I know they only had one sack today, which needs to have an asterisk by it, because I would’ve thrown it away at the end of the game. As Mike’s put it, he’s never seen me give up on a play, so I gave up on a play”.
You would likely recall the play if you watched it. It was the Steelers’ final offensive play of the game, during which their sole purpose was to run out as much of the clock as possible. The offense got the ball back with 5:23 to play and managed to make two conversions on third down, forcing the Ravens to use all of their timeouts.
After James Conner gained a yard and then lost two, however, they faced a third and 11 with 1:45 to play. Getting a first down on the play would have meant ending the game right then and there, since they would be able to run out the clock, and the odds of a first down on the ground from 11 yards out was low, so the obvious decision was to run a pass play.
But when Roethlisberger had nothing open, attempting for as long as possible to keep the play alive, he ultimately took the sack in order to keep the clock moving. It was a smart sack to take, but still one that officially is credited and thus reflects against the offensive line out of context.
And the quarterback always looks out for his linemen, whether it’s treating them or praising them or defending them. according to Burt Lauten, he even apologized to them after the game for giving up the ‘sack’ and making them look bad, keeping them from a clean sheet in protection.
#Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was sacked once vs the #Ravens, though he took the sack instead of throwing the ball away to keep the clock running. He later apologized to the o-line after for the “sack” & credited them for their play once again in his post-game press conference. https://t.co/tIpS50NgZf
— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) November 5, 2018
“Everything you’re asking them to do from blocking in the pass game, in the run game, opening holes against the number one defense in the world, there’s a reason they’re that good”, Roethlisberger said of his blockers. “So you can say what you want about James and the running game, but it starts up front, and we go as those guys go”.
There hasn’t been a better offensive line in football over the course of the past month, of that I have little doubt. The ground game has churned out 524 yards on the ground over that span and over 250 yards in the air in each, averaging over 400 yards of total offense and over 30 points per game.