Steelers film session: Formula found to keep Roethlisberger's jersey clean
It may have taken the better part of his career, but the Steelers seemingly have found a formula to protect their franchise quarterback.
Ben Roethlisberger has been at the top of the leaderboard when it comes to being sacked on a yearly basis for the past decade. Throw in the hits, knockdowns and pressures and it's easy to see why the Steelers have been so proactive in trying to keep Roethlisberger clean.
If Sunday's game against a good pressuring Cleveland defense is an indicator, the Steelers may have finally found something that works.
Roethlisberger wasn't sacked for the first time in more than a year (17 games) and finished a game sack-less for only the 14th time during 138 games played over his 10 years.
More than that, he was only touched four times — knockdowns by Barkevious Mingo on a botched middle screen and Ahtyba Rubin on a slow-developing play-action pass and hits by Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard.
How did the Steelers do it?
They accomplished it in a number of ways: Running the no-huddle; throwing quick out of the no-huddle and throwing short passes.
RUNNING THE NO-HUDDLE: A week after being successful using the no-huddle, the Steelers used it 22 times against the Browns, including seven of the first eight drives of the game. The only time they didn't use it was when they were backed up near their own end zone in the second quarter.
The no-huddle helped the Steelers get favorable matchups up front while wearing out the Cleveland defensive line. Nose tackle Phil Taylor played only 25 snaps — 15 fewer than his season average.
Roethlisberger was 8 of 13 for 86 yards and a 41-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown out of the no- huddle, while calling nine run plays resulting in 33 yards.
THROWING QUICK OUT OF THE NO-HUDDLE: Roethlisberger threw 12 times out of the no-huddle (one spike to stop the clock) but did it in a hurry. From the snap until the ball was released from his hand took an average of only 2.28 seconds. Six of his attempts took less than 1.6 seconds to leave his hand. That the ball leaves his hand so quickly deters teams from blitzing Roethlisberger. The Steelers were blitzed 19 times the past two weeks, including 15 against the Browns during his 70 drop backs.
THROWING SHORT PASSES: When one runs the no-huddle and throws quickly, the passes can't go very far downfield.
Roethlisberger went 22 of 34 for 221 yards and two touchdowns against the Browns. Out of his 34 attempts, 11 were behind or at the line of scrimmage, including five out of the first nine. Roethlisberger averaged only 6.4 yards down the field per attempt. If throws of 44 and 38 yards are removed, that number dips to 4.2 yards per attempt.
It was the second consecutive game that the Steelers threw quick, short passes out of the no-huddle.
It's resulted 57 offensive points, 600 total yards, two wins and one sack in 79 passing attempts.