Published: Friday, November 23, 2007
Roethlisberger needing better protection
The Steelers quarterback has been sacked 30 times already this season.
PITTSBURGH (AP) Ben Roethlisberger is threatening to break some of the Pittsburgh Steelers' most significant single-season passing records.
Not all of them are marks he wants to own.
With 23 touchdown passes, he is five away from tying Terry Bradshaw's 1978 total of 28 with six games to play. He is also on pace to have the best quarterback rating in team history, and Roethlisberger might challenge Bradshaw's 1979 record of 3,724 yards with a few more big games.
Then there's the statistic Roethlisberger and the Steelers want least: Most times sacked, 51, Cliff Stoudt, 1983.
Roethlisberger, despite being one of the NFL's strongest and most mobile quarterbacks, has been brought down 30 times in 10 games, including a season-high seven Sunday by the New York Jets.
At this rate, he'll be sacked 48 times, or two more than a year ago when Roethlisberger struggled most of the season as the Steelers went 8-8. Another game like Sunday's, and he might be in Stoudt territory.
Roethlisberger, who has more TD passes (23) and fewer interceptions (8) than any NFL quarterback other than the Patriots' Tom Brady, has avoided the numerous physical problems that disrupted his 2006 campaign the preseason motorcycle crash, the appendicitis attack, the multiple concussions.
Still, asked how he feels at this stage of the season compared with his first three years, Roethlisberger said, "A little more beat up, but that comes with the territory of being the quarterback and getting hit. I think we'll be able to shut that down real soon."
Coach Mike Tomlin is making quarterback protection a primary concern going into Monday night's game against the Dolphins (0-10).
Miami may be winless, but linebackers Jason Taylor and Joey Porter are strong pass rushers who present problems to any offensive line. No doubt Porter will be motivated to play the team that cut him in March.
The Steelers (7-3) also had problems run blocking against the Jets, who came into the game with one win.
"We need to do a better job of protecting up front," Tomlin said.
Tomlin also said Roethlisberger needs to get rid of the ball quicker at times, though he wouldn't credit a Jets scheme designed to prevent the quarterback from rolling out for causing all the pass protection problems. The Jets wanted to keep Roethlisberger from rolling out to his right, so they designed a pass rush to keep the quarterback constantly moving to his left.
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