The bigger Ben is, the harder he falls.
That’s the Washington Redskins‘ mentality going into Sunday’s game against Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. They know what the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback can do when given time, so there’s an emphasis on not just pressuring him but knocking him to the Heinz Field turf.
“The biggest thing is just getting him down, getting him off the spot as much as possible and just really hitting him, man,” linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. “He’s a big guy and he likes the contact. Really just making him uneasy and making him unsure.”
More than anything else, the job of the Redskins‘ defense is to try to rattle Roethlisberger, who has proven over his nine-year NFL career that he’s not easily fazed. The way to do that is through contact and some deception that defenses commonly try against opposing quarterbacks.
Part of what makes Roethlisberger such a challenge is his 6-foot-5, 241-pound frame. He’s not your average quarterback so he can’t be hit like one.
“If you don’t take him to the ground, it’s not a sack,” defensive lineman Kedric Golston said. “Ben’s a big man, so you’ve got to really wrap him up and put your body on him to get him down. You’re not just going to arm-tackle a man like that.”
Try and the results can be troublesome, especially for a defense that has shown a penchant for giving up big plays down the field.
“He’s unlike most quarterbacks in that he’s going to fight with everything he has to keep the play alive,” linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said.
Roethlisberger presents a different dynamic than the New York Giants’ Eli Manning, who is a bit more quick on his feet even though he’s not a running quarterback.
“He scrambles to create plays with his arm, not necessarily to run. But he scrambles to keep the passing plays alive,” Kerrigan said. “He’s as good as anybody in the league at not necessarily seeing the rush but feeling the rush and being able to avoid it from that.”
The other way to try to get to Roethlisberger is by disguising different looks before the snap.
“You kind of want to give him a different look pre-snap, get him thinking one coverage and we’re really playing something out,” linebacker Perry Riley said. “Bluffing, acting like we’re blitzing when we’re really not, or when we’re blitzing, look like we’re not blitzing.”
“I’d say that’s what Washington does so well is the confusion factor,” he said. “They try and really throw you off and mix it up.”