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|10-28-2008, 07:14 AM||#1|
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One constant remains -- Ben Roethlisberger
One constant remains snap after snap -- Ben Roethlisberger
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
His touchdown passes are down, his interceptions up, his passer rating down, and his body has hit the ground at a near-record pace.
Ben Roethlisberger must feel more like a pinata these days than the quarterback of the 5-2 Steelers.
After getting some relief when the Bengals failed to sack him Oct. 19 in Cincinnati, Roethlisberger hit the ground often Sunday when the New York Giants sacked him five times and hit him at least 10 other times.
It was not as gruesome as his treatment Sept. 21 in Philadelphia when the Eagles sacked him eight times and knocked him out of the game late with an injury to his right hand, but the Giants made him pay nevertheless.
"Some of them were miscommunication," Roethlisberger said. "Some of them were coverage sacks. They did a great job of covering our guys."
Sometimes Roethlisberger held the ball too long, sometimes the Giants overpowered the line and sometimes ... it has been the same old song for the past three seasons. Roethlisberger was sacked 46 times in 2006, 47 times in '07 and is on pace to be sacked 53 times this season. That would tie Cliff Stoudt's franchise low-water mark set in 1983, which helped prompt the quarterback to jump to the United States Football League the next spring.
Roethlisberger, with his new $100 million contract, isn't going anywhere unless it's to the sideline if the beatings continue. The Steelers have dealt with many injuries to starters this season but somehow their embattled quarterback has not missed a start.
He ran his record to 1-7 when he has thrown three interceptions, throwing four Sunday for the second time in his career. They were not the kind of poor throws, however, that he made in, say, Oakland two years ago when he had four pickoffs, two returned for touchdowns.
Safety James Butler made a nice move for the first interception, and then crushed Nate Washington to pop the ball loose from the receiver for the Giants' second interception. His third interception came on a fourth-down play that actually wound up better than an incompletion because New York got the ball 2 yards deeper. The fourth interception was a virtual desperation pass near the end of the game.
"You have to give credit to the Giants," coach Mike Tomlin said. "They flashed and made some plays."
Nevertheless, Roethlisberger has seven interceptions, a pace of 16. He has 10 touchdown passes, a pace of 23. Last season, he threw 32 scoring passes and just 11 interceptions.
His passer rating stands at 85.7 today, which would be the second lowest of his career only to the 75.4 in the 2006 season that followed his motorcycle accident, appendectomy and October concussion.
Roethlisberger also has not been as effective on the run this season. He has 14 carries for 29 yards. Last season he ran 35 times for 204 yards.
The Steelers' offensive line has taken its share of blame for some of the quarterback's woes, but against the Giants the line appeared to hold its own except when it came to penalties. A hold on Willie Colon, for one, eliminated a 53-yard touchdown pass Roethlisberger completed to Nate Washington.
"The difference between their line and our line was dumb penalties," Colon said, citing his and a personal foul on Chris Kemoeatu for pushing a Giants defender late. "Obviously, we have to be more disciplined. That was the story of the game."
Roethlisberger had to play without starting wide receiver Santonio Holmes, without starting halfback Willie Parker and without starting left tackle Marvel Smith.
"When you start losing guys, you never know who you've got left," Roethlisberger said. "Guys are coming and going, getting healthy and getting hurt. That's why I believe this is the toughest league there is. It's a violent game."
Somehow, the quarterback is still standing.
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