Let's take a real close look at a play late in the 1st half that shines a very bright spotlight on the excellent instincts that both Ben Roethlisberger and Heath Miller possess. It also proves that the offensive line, while not great against the Ravens for most of the game Sunday, most certainly had its moments.
To the pictures:
Two seconds into the play and Ben has a very solid pocket in which to stand tall and survey what's materializing down the football field. You'll notice though that Chris K is beginning to get pushed back. Ben senses that, even though it's not yet obvious that he's about to be in his face if he doesn't take a step to his left. This is what great QBs are able to do - instinctively sense what's about to happen.
Chris K has regained his footing to a degree in the frame above, but Ben has already started to shuffle to the left, all the while keeping his eyes down field, not on the impeding Ravens pass rusher.
Let's see what happens next after the jump...
We're now a good three seconds into the play - just about the time the internal alarm clock in a QBs mind goes off. I have boxed Heath Miller here, who realizes Ben has taken off from the pocket. No longer needing to stay with his offensive lineman to help block and create a pocket, Heath is about to take off to help his QB.
We're a good 5 seconds in folks. Still nobody within 4-6 yards of Ben. Heath has now escaped and is heading down field to make himself available. Something he's able to do only because Max Starks has got his man locked up and there's no one else to account for. Notice Ben's eyes are still down the field here in the frame above.
We now see what's about to hapen, as a Ravens LB has committed to attacking Roethlisberger. He could have stayed with Miller and let the guy chasing down Ben force the throw. He does not though as we're about to see.
The snap took place with :34 seconds left. Heath makes this catch with :28 seconds left. Of course, the Steelers weren't able to muster points out of this drive for a number of reasons, but this play shows three things to me:
The offensive line has issues, no doubt, especially when you bring the house at them. But if you only rush 4 or 5, they're more than capable of holding their own and providing Roethlisberger with the time he needs to make plays with his arm and legs.
Ben has tremendous instincts most of the time 'feeling' where the pressure is coming from and choosing the correct path to shade to in the pocket - all the while keeping his eyes down field.
- Heath Miller knows where to go on the football field, even 5 seconds into a play when things have broken down and it becomes 'sandlot' improvisational time. That's a sign of great instincts too and just another reason why he's better than the average talented TE, even those who are reliable when their number is called on designed plays for them.
Good stuff from all.