Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked just 14 times so far this season, which is the third-fewest in the NFL among quarterbacks with at least 250 pass attempts behind only Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints.
Two of the 14 sacks he has taken came on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, which was the first multi-sack game the Steelers have allowed since Week Three against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Between Week Four and Week 10 over a six-game span, he was only sacked four times.
It must have felt nice back there for a while, but the Jaguars brought about as much pretty as he has seen all season, and it didn’t help that they played the majority of the game with a deficit. The biggest hit he took, however, wasn’t even a sack, and it ended up not even being an official play.
On the first play of the Steelers’ second possession of the third quarter, Roethlisberger threw a pass intended for Antonio Brown that was intercepted by Myles Jack. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, Calais Campbell was flagged for roughing the passer on the play.
Roethlisberger was asked about the hit during his radio show and how it’s rare for him to get those calls, even this year with the points of emphasis protecting the quarterbacks. “You’re right, I don’t get many calls, so it’s hard to understand when I’m gonna get them and not get them”, he said. “But Calais is a big guy and when he landed on me I felt it. So maybe the ref felt like, ‘this big guy put his weight on you, it’s a penalty’. You never know what they’re gonna call or when they’re gonna call it. I don’t even try to argue about it anymore”.
Later in the game, in the middle of the fourth quarter, he was brought down by Yannick Ngakoue for a sack in a similar fashion, only this time the hit stood. He was asked about, as many observers felt, if he believed the second hit was even bigger than the first. “It felt like it, but part of that is because you land straight on your back too”, he offered.
Over the course of recent weeks, it is fair to point out that the league’s officials have significantly backed off of the roughing the passer regulations that had many people convinced in the early portions of the season would literally ruin the game.
That doesn’t mean that a play or two every so often isn’t going to come up that is hard to figure out, such as the Campbell hit, as many felt, but frankly, they’ve always existed. I can still remember hits from a decade ago that were called in-game. It does happen. But I think for the most part, the league is through its adjustment period as to how they will be officiating contact with the quarterback, even if Sunday’s game might suggest otherwise.