Ben Roethlisberger is one of the best pump-fake quarterbacks in NFL history. Most of the time, he’s not even doing it to fool the defense. He’s changing his mind about where he wants to throw the football. With his size, he’s able to hold onto the football in ways other quarterbacks couldn’t dream of doing. So it was a shock to see one of Roethlisberger’s patented pump fakes hit the ground Sunday night against Seattle. Not only did the ball leave his hand but it left the Steelers’ possession, initially called incomplete but reversed and ruled a fumble, recovered by the Seahawks.
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Speaking with reporters after the game, Roethlisberger explained what the refs told him.
“I was told that my arm was, even though the ball was going forward, my arm was going backwards,” he said after the game.
That moment has shades of the infamous Tom Brady “Tuck Rule” from two decades ago. But that rule has been severely scaled back from its original form and because the ball was not travelling forward as Roethlisberger lost possession, it became a fumble.
Roethlisberger, still, remained unconvinced and leaned on someone who literally studies physics.
“So I had to ask Josh Dobbs, who’s an aerospace engineer, how that works. He said it’s not possible. But I can’t get fined for that. Because I’m just telling what Dobbs said.”
According to the refs, who had their own issues tonight, it is possible. And was the call. Luckily, the Steelers’ defense held firm. Despite Seattle starting at Pittsburgh’s 35, they went three and out, losing four yards and forced to punt in a 17-17 game. Pittsburgh marched downfield for a field goal the ensuing drive.
Pittsburgh took the adventurous route to victory instead of the peaceful scenic view. But they got the victory. And hopefully for Roethlisberger, he’ll avoid a fine for that minor pushback on the officials’ decision. Mike Tomlin’s pocketbook, though, is doubtful to be as fortunate.