Earlier this week, I posted the Hustle Play of the Week from the Raiders game. In the post I gave props to Deebo for a hell of an effort to race down field and lay an absolutely wicked block on Raider's running back Michael Bush. If you haven't seen the play, re-watch it. It's a thing of beauty, except for BMac's inexplicable lack of effort, which I believed cost Troy a pick-six.
Today I want to highlight the Hustle of franchise QB Ben Roethlisberger. Last week TO called Ben Roethlisberger "soft" after a strange sucker punch by Raiders' DL Richard Seymour sent him tumbling to the turf (this just in, the league office apparently fined James Harrison $25,000 dollars for that hit). Now wether you think Ben dove on that play, that he was just stunned, or you are T.O.tally insane and think that he is soft, it's not likely that anyone, not even T.O. will accuse Ben of being soft after watching this play.
If you are a Steelers fan and watched Bills game, than your doctor is likely currently upping your dose of blood pressure medication. What started out as a pleasant dominating thrashing of an inferior opponent turned into an overtime slugfest that the Steelers really should not have won. To make matters worse ,most of us were once again having flashbacks to the disastrous 2009 season.
What started out as an easy game for Ben Roethlisberger turned into yet another O-line fueled nightmare. The Bills pass rush, which had to that point mustered a total of 15 sacks all season, second worst in the league, looked like the Blitzburgh defense against our duct tape and wire hanger O-line. The bills tallied 5 sacks and forcing 4 holding penalties. While Roethlisberger is often accused of adding to sack numbers because of the time he holds on to the ball, he is rarely credited with just how many sacks he keeps of the board by swatting away linebackers, and D-linemen like so many bothersome gnats.
In this play we see that talent and more.
The play comes in the fourth quarter with the score. The game is tied 13-13. The Steelers last two possessions have totaled 4 plays, a punt and a fumble. The Bills have scored 13 unanswered. The series starts with Mendenhall finding redemption from the fumble with a beautiful 42 yard run up the middle. The play is brought back due to the third holding call on Kemo. Ben then completes a beautiful pass to Heath Miller for 26 yards to get out of the shadow of his own goal posts.
A pass to memo fails to gain any yardage and then on 2nd and 10 Ben is sacked by two bills defenders. One of them the 6'6" 310lb Marcus Stroud, gets on Ben's back while Ben is clearly already down, then he uses has massive frame to twist Ben's upper body away from his legs. Ben contorts awkwardly with his leg twisted under him. No flag is thrown, but the good news is that the league is thinking of fining James Harrison $50,000 dollars for that play. Ben had already been playing with a hurt foot, but he gets up from this play with an even more pronounced limp.
But Ben is Ben. He drops back into the shotgun, on the hopeless 3rd and 17, confident as ever in his ability to make a play. Which is exactly what he does.
The play begins with Flozell "the Hotel" Adams, looking like he forgot to order a wake up call. Adams is badly beat on the outside by Bills LB/DE Chris Kelsay.
By the time the play is all of two seconds old, Kelsay is around Adams and has both arms wrapped around Roethlisberger's waist. This play should be done. What's more LT Jonathan Scott is also beaten by his man. As you can see below he has an angle on Ben and is about a yard and half away.
Most QBs escape this kind of situation once or twice a season. For Ben it's once or twice a game.
In the frame below, Ben is shaking of Kelsay's tackle. Scott is still blocking his man, although he is close to Ben at this point. Kemo is being thrown around by Stroud, only Foster seems to be doing well, holding Bill's Beastly nose tackle Kyle Williams near the line.
After a nifty spin move, Roetlisbeger has disposed of two defenders. Kelsay is on the ground after diving for Ben's waist. Scott is laying on top of his guy. Sadly for Ben the spin move takes him right into the face of his new friend DT Marcus Stroud, whose sack from the previous play should have earned him a place on the sexual predators registry a 15 yard penalty. A second after escaping two guys, he is one yard away from a surging Stroud.
Ben wants no more of that, so he plants on his of his two bad legs, and with a change of direction that would make Barry Sanders smiles he simply takes off.
At this point Kemo who has been having an absolutely lousy game, makes yet another mental mistake and attempts a diving tackle on Stroud.
You can see him reaching for Stroud's legs in this picture. You can also see Foster spin around and try to take care of business with Williams again. Scott is still doing a hell of a job laying down on his guy and keeping him on the ground.
Watch the nifty flop/roll block Foster lays on Williams totally taking him out of the play.
Ben meanwhile is creating separation from Stroud and looking downfield to see if anything is going on.
At this point Ben is running towards the sideline you can see the Bill corner running to cut him off before he reaches the first....
Ben makes a beautiful cut back towards the inside, catching the corner going the wrong way and essentially assuring the 1st down.
He also assures that he's going to take a big hit, sandwiched in between two bills defenders.
All in all an amazing hustle play by Big Ben. Great stuff, extending a play, then running 17 plus yards (actually about 30 plus yards when you count all the wiggling in the backfield), only too take the kind of hit that most QBs avoid at any cose.
I also wanted to add, an honorable mention for heads up/hustle for rookie center Maurkice Pouncey. His play also comes during the fourth quarter, one drive earlier, during the Mendenhall strip/fumble. Notice the blurry bills player at the 31 yard line. He has the ball and he's running. Pouncey at this point is on his back. He's also the only Steeler who seems to be aware that the ball has changed possession and that that the whistle did not blow. By reaching up and grabbing the legs of the Bills defender he keeps a sure defensive TD of the board. Nice play rook.