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fordfixer
09-13-2008, 01:21 AM
Cleveland Browns defense looks to nab Pittsburgh Steelers' escape artist Ben Roethlisberger

Cleveland Browns defense looks to nab Pittsburgh Steelers' escape artist Ben Roethlisberger
Friday, September 12, 2008
Tony Grossi
Plain Dealer Reporter
http://www.cleveland.com/browns/plainde ... xml&coll=2 (http://www.cleveland.com/browns/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/sports/1221208417225840.xml&coll=2)

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was limited at practice a second day in a row because of a sore shoulder incurred on a sack by Houston's Mario Williams in a rout over the Texans.

It's proof that some teams actually do knock down the Steelers' quarterback, who looks more like a linebacker at 6-5, 241 pounds.

In truth, Roethlisberger is the most-sacked quarterback in the NFL over the past two years. He was taken down 93 times in 30 games the past two seasons. The Browns were credited with seven of those sacks in four meetings in 2006 and '07.

But the key plays in two of those four Pittsburgh wins were Roethlisberger slipping away from the Browns' clutches and making big-time plays.

In 2007, Roethlisberger slithered out of Willie McGinest's grasp for a 30-yard touchdown run and a 24-21 Pittsburgh lead. The Steelers won, 31-28.

"That was the backbreaker," linebacker Kamerion Wimbley said of that third-and-9 play.

In 2006, Roethlisberger shook off three interceptions and Wimbley at the end, shoveling a little pass to Willie Parker for the winning touchdown with 32 seconds left. The Steelers won, 24-20.

"Yeah, I had him," Wimbley said. "He frustrates a lot of defenses because whenever he does scramble and is able to break away from those tackles, it's usually accompanied by some sort of significant play."

Roethlisberger chuckled on a conference call over the mention of Wimbley seemingly forever chasing him, wheels spinning, dirt flying, and Roethlisberger escaping.

"It always seems he's right there in my face," he said. "I see his number a lot. It's a credit to him as a player." n discussing his team's 0-6 record against Pittsburgh as Browns coach, Romeo Crennel preaches "finishing" the job.

"In both of those games, we had a chance to win," Crennel said. "We couldn't make a first down and couldn't get him on the ground. If we do either of those, we could win the game."

Since GM Phil Savage set about constructing the Browns, he has had Pittsburgh and Roethlisberger in his vision. Wimbley and McGinest, and now Shaun Rogers, were the key defensive players acquired for the distinct purpose of ravaging Roethlisberger.

"He gets away from a lot of people," McGinest said. "That's something we know we have to stop. Willie Parker, we know we have to stop him and make the game one-dimensional.

"Our best defense is our offense, so we have to get off the field on third down. Part of that is being able to cover well and get pressure on Ben, keeping him in the pocket. You can't stop really good players. I think you can just contain them and slow them down. I think that's our goal. We just don't want him to get loose and run around. Of course, we want to hit him and force him to make bad decisions."

Roethlisberger's long-term health has been a priority for the Steelers since he established himself, as a rookie, as a franchise quarterback. In March, they re-signed him to an eight-year contract for $102 million, including $36 million in guarantees.

By the end of that month, they fortified the troublesome interior of Pittsburgh's offensive line by signing free-agent center Justin Hartwig. It was with big nose tackles like Rogers in mind that led to the pursuit of Hartwig.

Although Houston's Williams took down Roethlisberger twice in Pittsburgh's opening win, he had an easy enough time of it to depart after three quarters, throwing only 14 times and completing 13.

The Steelers entered the year answering questions about their line because of the departure in free agency of guard Alan Faneca.

"We all love it when people were talking bad about our offensive linemen because that just fuels their fire," Roethlisberger said. "I was hoping people would say that because I know how talented and athletic and determined they were. They've done a heckuva job thus far."

Mike Tomlin, the second-year Pittsburgh coach, conceded he is concerned with the pounding Roethlisberger took last season.

"But no more so than about anybody who plays the position," he said. "It kind of comes with the territory. This guy plays and plays to win. He's a competitor and some of the things that allow him to make splash plays also put him in harm's way. We do the best we can in terms of keeping him clean but the protection of our quarterback is an 11-man job for our offense."

And even when 10 of those men break down, the Browns know firsthand that Roethlisberger can still escape.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

tgrossi@plaind.com, 216-999-4670

RuthlessBurgher
09-13-2008, 10:58 AM
Our best defense is our offense??? :wft

You better hope that your offense will be able to stop Ben, Hines, Santonio, Nate, Heath, Matt, Willie, Rashard, and Mewelde then, because your sad sack defense sure won't be able to.

The best defense will be busy stuffing Jamal Lewis, sacking Derek Anderson, and picking off passes at Cleveland Browns Stadium this Sunday.

By the way, I think it is great that the Browns suck so much that there is no sponsor that wants its good name associated with that poop-colored trash. It would be one thing if the stadium was named in honor of a former owner (oh, I forgot...Art Modell alienated Paul Brown to the point that he left to start the Cincinnati franchise, so their stadium is named after him. Then Modell packed up his bags years later for Baltimore. Perhaps the Browns have the "AL" patch on their shoulders because Al Lerner died before Clevelanders could realize that he would screw them over too. But, wait...perhaps he did...did you realize that prior to purchasing the rights to the team in 1998, Lerner assisted his friend at the time Art Modell in moving Modell's NFL franchise rights from Cleveland to Baltimore back in 1995? :lol: :brownssuck ). Or even if the stadium had a cool traditional name like Three Rivers or Mile High...but the uber-generic "Cleveland Browns Stadium"? Are you kidding me?