View Full Version : Can Dolphins' pass rushers pull down Steelers' Big Ben?

10-22-2010, 01:55 AM
Can Dolphins' pass rushers pull down Steelers' Big Ben?
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has strength, presence to extend pass plays
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/miam ... 7135.story (http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/miami-dolphins/fl-dolphins-ben-roethlisberger-1022-20101021,0,1017135.story)

5:38 p.m. EDT, October 21, 2010

DAVIE Cameron Wake reached out with his left hand last Sunday and sacked Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers by the ankle from a prone position.

It was an indelible image from an incredible afternoon for the Dolphins' leading sack artist.

What are the chances of Wake pulling off another one-handed takedown this weekend against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger?

"Uh, probably not going to happen," Wake says. "He's an extra-large version of Rodgers."

At 6 feet 5 and 241 pounds, Roethlisberger has his Packers counterpart by three inches and more than 20 pounds. "Big Ben" also possesses a brute strength in the pocket that at times makes him resemble Shrek playing with the kiddies in the swamp.

"He's a big joker," Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder says. "You grab Roethlisberger's ankle, he's going to kick you in the head and take off running."

That's not to say Roethlisberger can't be toppled. He's been sacked 189 times the past four regular seasons, a league-high average of 47.3 times per year.

He's also fumbled 35 times in that span, losing 15 of them, often working behind a patchwork offensive line. And we didn't even mention the four documented concussions.

So Roethlisberger, who threw for three touchdowns last week to beat the Browns in his first game following a four-game NFL suspension, is the first to admit his willingness to hold the ball and extend plays comes with a price.

"It's a double-edged sword," Roethlisberger says. "You live by it and die by it. We got some big plays from it, and we got some big negative plays from it. People ask me why I don't go down, but I think it's just my competiveness."

That mental clock, the one that tells quarterbacks when it's time to get the ball out? Big Ben's moves way slower than most others.

"I don't want to give up on any play," he says. "Maybe sometimes I should, but it's just hard to tell me to do that."

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin isn't about to cramp his quarterback's style. Not with two Super Bowl rings already in Roethlisberger's personal collection six-plus years into his pro career.

"It's kind of what he does naturally," Tomlin says.

Some of Roethlisberger's greatest plays have featured him shrugging off pass rushers the way a horse sheds flies, then firing downfield to beat a secondary that can't possibly hold up that long in pass coverage.

It happened on the game-winning pass to Santonio Holmes in the Super Bowl two years ago against Karlos Dansby's Cardinals. It happened to the Dolphins in January in a 30-24 season-ending loss.

Big Ben went down three times in that game, but it could have been several more.

"We had some opportunities to get him down and we didn't get him down," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano says. "He can kill you when that doesn't happen. We've got to get this guy down on the ground."

Doing that comes down to fundamentals, starting with staying in your rush lanes and continuing right on through proper form tackling.

"You have to make sure that you're not grabbing for feet there," Sparano says, "and that you've got both arms around him."

Former Dolphins cornerback Nate Jones had one of those sacks in January, but there was another play where Jones, coming on a corner blitz, pulled up and slid into Roethlisberger's shins as though he were trying to avoid a late-hit penalty.

Only one problem: Big Ben still had the ball.

That's how disorienting his pocket strength can be for defenders.

"He's a big guy," Crowder says, "a lot stronger [than most] and he can move and keep plays going. When he scrambles, he stays looking downfield, so we have to concentrate on that."

The good news is the longer Big Ben moves around back there, the more ticks pass rushers will have to eventually track him down.

"Any couple extra seconds we can get, that's going to be a help for us," Wake says. "He is like a double- edged sword. He's big and strong and can run around, but if he holds the ball too long it gives us a lot more opportunity to come get him."

Preferably with two hands.

Mike Berardino can be reached at mberardino@SunSentinel.com. Follow him at SunSentinel.com/Dolphins.

10-22-2010, 01:57 AM
Dolphins coach Tony Sparano hoping Steelers feel the heat
http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/10/22/1 ... -feel.html (http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/10/22/1885706/sparano-is-hoping-steelers-feel.html)

After playing at night for their first two home games of the season, the Dolphins finally will have a legitimate home-field advantage as they get ready for their third appearance at Sun Life Stadium.

On Sunday, with temperatures expected to be in the high 80s at 1 p.m., players will be able to use their acclimation to the South Florida heat to their advantage while the Steelers will need to sweat it out.

``You're not going to say, `Well, it's a night game, so it's going to be 70-something at kickoff,' '' coach Tony Sparano said. ``The way I understand it, it's supposed to be 86 degrees at 1 o'clock. I do think that has a little something to do with it if the game gets long and as the game goes on. I think it's an advantage.''

Sparano plans to make the Steelers wear their black jerseys Sunday to make sure the heat has as much of an impact on their stamina as possible.

Miami needs all the home-field advantages it can get. The team lost its first two showdowns in Sun Life Stadium, to the Jets and Patriots.


Five games into his Dolphins tenure, wide receiver Brandon Marshall has seen plenty of different defensive strategies, but he said he hasn't seen any specific trends that have carried over from one game to another.

Last Sunday, the Packers chose to stay within their usual scheme, even putting their best cornerback (Charles Woodson) in coverage against Davone Bess instead of Marshall. Marshall expects the Steelers, who have a definitive scheme, to resist getting overly creative when it comes to their plans to stop him.

``Some games, you go in where teams approach maybe to take you out of the game and not let you beat them,'' Marshall said. ``Some games, like last week, they just play their scheme.

``I think we're going against the Steelers who have a scheme that they've been playing with for a long time now. It's been one of the best defensive schemes for forever.'' NOTABLE

Fullback Lousaka Polite (knee) returned to practice Thursday on a limited basis after sitting out Wednesday. Polite's status for Sunday's game remains unknown, but the Dolphins do still have a backup option in newly signed Deon Anderson if he isn't able to go.

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