Roethlisberger produces with pump fake
Ben Roethlisberger has become a fake.
Already proficient at winning Super Bowls and guiding fourth-quarter comebacks, Roethlisberger is quickly adding another entry to his resume - master of deception.
In the time of shotguns and no-huddles, Roethlisberger is bringing back the lost art of the pump fake.
Prevalent three decade ago in the NFL, the notion of deceiving a defender by faking a pass then throwing it in another direction has become a favorite of Roethlisberger.
"I have been trying to use it more this year (just) to use it," Roethlisberger said. "In the past, sometimes I was really going to throw it, and then at the last minute, decide not to. It would look pretty realistic, if you ask me."
All you have to do is ask the Tennessee defenders how realistic Roethlisberger's pump fakes have become.
Last week, Roethlisberger attempted 43 passes in the Steelers' 13-10 overtime win over the Titans. He used the pump fake an inordinate 17 times, completing 12 of them for 195 yards and the team's only touchdown.
The other 26 attempts that a pump fake was not used, Roethlisberger threw for 168 yards, no touchdowns and was intercepted twice.
"Last week, I really tried to use it a lot, because when teams do zone drops, that is the best way to move guys," Roethlisberger said.
Tennessee's zone scheme dictated how much Roethlisberger was able to use the pump fake. He threw for 363 yards and a touchdown against the Titans.
"We are playing against teams that play the Tampa Two," Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. A "Tampa Two'' is where two safeties play deep, and each cover half of the field. "They are spot-droppers who read the quarterback's eyes so you can move them around where you want them."
Roethlisberger has been able to hold defenders in place with his pumps like he did to Titans safety Chris Hope on Santonio Holmes' touchdown reception at the end of the first half last week.
Roethlisberger pumped to the right then connected with Holmes on a post pattern in the back left of the end zone.
"With Santonio's touchdown, we always try to move the safety with the pump," backup quarterback Charlie Batch said. "But (the pump fake) is really nothing in particular we work on."
It is said that one time is a fluke, but two times is a trend. So you can at least refer to Roethlisberger's penchant for the pump as a trend for now.
Roethlisberger first enjoyed success with the pump fake during the Super Bowl XLIII-winning drive a year ago.
He was 3 of 5 for 59 yards and a touchdown to Holmes when he pumped first. The key one was a 40-yard reception to Holmes down to the Arizona 6-yard line.
"Some of those were unintentional," Roethlisberger admitted. "I was going to throw the ball then decided not to at the last second."
Still, the pump fake, whether intentional or unintentional, puts a lot of pressure on a secondary.
"When you see his hand come up with the ball, you expect him to throw it," safety Ryan Clark said. "So, it is really tough for you as a safety if a guy is allowed to have enough time to pump fake a lot."
That's how Chicago coach Lovie Smith sees it. His Bears also play a lot of zone defense, which will make his defenders ripe for the pump fake, that is if they afford Roethlisberger the time to do it.
"That is a big part of his game to be able to do that," Smith said. "It will be the same case with us this week if we allow him to do that. You have to make him get rid of the ball fairly quick."
But Roethlisberger's ability to escape pressure and then pump on the run makes it a difficult task for the opposition.
"That is all just a part of his package as a football player," Clark said. "I guess when you have big enough hands to do it, it is a good move."Additional Information:
Faked you out
Ever since the Super Bowl-winning drive from Ben Roethlisberger last February, the pump fake has been a big part of the quarterback's success. Here are his numbers during the final drive last year and by each quarter against Tennessee last week when he pump faked.
SUPER BOWL WINNING DRIVE
With pump fake - 3 of 5 for 59 yards and game-winning touchdown
Without pump fake - 2 of 2 for 25 yards
First quarter - 0 of 1 (underthrew Mike Wallace on deep pass)
Second quarter - 4 of 7 for 85 yards, touchdown, two first downs
Third quarter - 0 of 0
Fourth quarter - 5 of 5 for 69 yards, five first downs
Overtime - 3 of 4 for 41 yards, two first downs
Total with pump fake: 12 of 17 for 195 yards, touchdown, nine first downs
Total without pump fake: 21 of 26 for 168 yards, two interceptions, nine first downs