I don’t suspect this will be greeted by anybody as breaking news, but Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a load to bring down, according to those whose job it is to do so. The chief party handed that assignment this week will be J.J. Watt, who was injured the last time the Steelers played the Houston Texans.
Though he has been in the league for a decade, Watt’s Texans have only played the Steelers three times since he was drafted. He has played in two of those games, and did manage one sack on Roethlisberger, back in 2014, plus another hit. He knows it wasn’t easy then, and it won’t be on Sunday.
“Part of it’s his stature. I mean, he’s just a big guy”, he told the media on Wednesday. “A lot of it’s his toughness, and his attitude. He has an attitude that he’s not gonna be brought down. He keeps his eyes downfield. He’s gonna stand in the pocket strong and he’s gonna deliver the ball. He’s gonna shrug a guy off. Part of that’s just him not willing to go down”.
The Steelers’ offensive line has done a better job of protecting him over the past six or so years, and he’s also become one of the quickest quarterbacks in the league in terms of getting the ball out of his hands, but Roethlisberger is still known to shake off a defender or two, and hasn’t shied away from the contact.
“When guys hit some quarterbacks, they see the hit coming and they just take the hit and fall down”, Watt said. “He probably sees the hit coming out of his peripheral [vision], but he keeps his eyes downfield and he throws the ball, and most of the time doesn’t even end up on the ground. It’s very impressive and it’s something that you have to be conscious of, because you can’t just come flying in out of nowhere. The guy doesn’t go down very easily”.
Roethlisberger has only been sacked three times through the first two games of the season, and he would probably even take some of the blame for that. He talked on Wednesday about the need to get his footwork back to where it should be.
Of course, the best way to fend off sacks is to get rid of the ball before defenders can get to you, and Roethlisberger has picked up where he left off in this area. It’s actually somewhat remarkable how he’s transformed himself in recent years to having one of the quickest releases in the game, something that barely ever gets acknowledged.