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Steelers film study: Big Ben felt pressure vs. Bears

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - The Steelers' Mike Adams and Kelvin Beachum block for Ben Roethlisberger against the Bears on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, at Heinz Field.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>The Steelers' Mike Adams and Kelvin Beachum block for Ben Roethlisberger against the Bears on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, at Heinz Field.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review - Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger loses and recovers his own fumble as he is pressured by the Bears' defense Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, at Heinz Field.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review</em></div>Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger loses and recovers his own fumble as he is pressured by the Bears' defense Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013, at Heinz Field.

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Musical linemen

The curious and unorthodox decision to switch out both left tackle Mike Adams and right tackle Marcus Gilbert for Kelvin Beachum through the majority of the first half had nothing to do with performance. Both Gilbert and Adams graded out near-perfect during the first two brief series of the game in which the Steelers ran only six plays. Beachum replaced Gilbert on the final series of the first quarter and then replaced Adams on the first series of the second quarter. Gilbert and Adams played the entire second half.

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Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, 11:24 p.m.

Ben Roethlisberger will be the first to admit that he didn't have one of his best games Sunday against the Bears.

Roethlisberger fumbled twice and threw a pair of interceptions that directly led to 21 points in a 40-23 kiss but also was harassed all game by the blitz-happy and stunting front seven of the Bears.

Or was he?

There's no denying Roethlisberger was under a lot of pressure from the Bears, but not as much as one might think.

Roethlisberger had a “clean” pocket in which he did not have to step up, scramble or throw quicker than he would've liked on 27 of the 46 times he dropped back to pass.

Roethlisberger got rid of the ball in an average of 2.3 seconds when he wasn't pressured, which resulted in a couple of big plays down the field.

When he was pressured, those numbers changed a lot.

Roethlisberger didn't have a “clean” pocket on 19 throwing plays, which included 14 pass attempts, three sacks and two running plays.

Roethlisberger completed 7 of 14 passes for 111 yards and a pair of interceptions when he was pressured.

When Roethlisberger was pressured, it came quickly. Chicago got got to him within two seconds seven times with the majority of those comes because of left tackle Mike Adams.

Adams allowed five hurries of Roethlisberger including one sack. All five of Adams' hurries gave Roethlisberger less than three seconds to get rid of the ball — 2.7, 2.3, 2.8, 2.9 and 2.9.

• The Steelers haven't been pressuring quarterbacks like they once did, but the Bears weren't going to take any chances Sunday. Jay Cutler's first 10 passes were released at an average of 2.0 seconds. The two longest were a pair of play-action passes (3.2 and 3.4 seconds). For the game, Cutler released the ball on average 2.26 seconds.

• Fullback Will Johnson was part of the game plan more than he was the first two weeks, but not when it came to being a lead blocker. Johnson led the way for only three of the Steelers' 19 run plays, gaining 11 yards. Johnson played 17 snaps. He came into the game taking part in seven snaps in two games.

• The outside zone blocking was used a little more, but took a back seat to the power game once again. The Steelers called five outside zone runs with poor results: 8, -2, -2, 1 and 0 yards. The Steelers used the scheme three times with Felix Jones and twice with Jonathan Dwyer. The Steelers have run the outside zone seven times in three games.

• The Steelers have yet to create a turnover in three games, but it isn't because defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau isn't dialing up different kinds of pressures. Against the Bears, LeBeau used either a corner or safety as a fifth rusher 12 times led by Troy Polamalu's five. Shamarko Thomas blitzed three times, Robert Golden twice and William Gay and Ryan Clark once each. Coming into the game, LeBeau had sent the defensive backs only seven times.

• The Bears made a concerted effort to keep receiver Brandon Marshall away from Ike Taylor. Marshall lined up in the slot a number of times forcing Taylor to slide outside and cover either Alshon Jeffery or Earl Bennett. During the first drive alone, Marshall lined up in the slot five times forcing a number of different Steelers to cover him, including Thomas, Ryan Clark, Jarvis Jones, and LaMarr Woodley.

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