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Ben Roethlisberger finishes NFL preseason virtually untouched

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The hardest hit Roethlisberger sustained Sunday night was during the touchdown celebration

Pittsburgh Steelers v Tennessee Titans Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Sunday night in Tennessee was the first and only game Ben Roethlisberger has played in the preseason for 2019. Playing the first three drive, Roethlisberger attempted 14 passes (including the two-point conversion) in the 20 plays in which he commanded the offense. While the numbers of nine completions and one touchdown are what instantly stand out in those 14 pass plays, the most important number is the zero quarterback hits on Roethlisberger.

It’s commendable that the first team offensive line did not give up a single hit on their franchise quarterback in Week 3. In order to see if it was great line play, offensive scheme, or a combination of both, I broke down every pass by Roethlisberger on Sunday night in terms of pass protection, number of rushing defenders, and time from snap to throw. One note to clarify at this point so it does not have to be repeated, Big Ben took every snap in the game out of shotgun. Additionally, I timed the snap-to-throw myself and rounded my answer (timed at least twice) to the nearest 0.25 seconds.

Here are the pass plays broken down by drive:


First Drive

  • On 2nd & 7, Roethlisberger completed a quick pass to Donte Moncrief for four yards. It was a play-action pass with the fake to James Conner, and Vance McDonald stayed in to pass block. The Titans only rushed four players, but they had four more hovering around the line of scrimmage in order to cover Conner and McDonald. No pressure on the play. Snap-to-throw time was 1.5 seconds.
  • On 3rd & 3, Roethlisberger completed a quick pass to Moncrief for seven yards. The Titans only rushed four players, and the Steelers only blocked with their 5 linemen. No pressure on the play. Snap-to-throw time was 1.5 seconds.
  • On 1st & 10, Roethlisberger threw an incomplete screen pass to Ryan Switzer. The Titans only rushed four players, and the Steelers only blocked with their five linemen. Matt Feiler cut the defensive end rushing out to break up the play, but Roethlisberger still made the errant throw to avoid the player. No pressure on the QB, but the defensive end disrupted the pass. Snap-to-throw time was 1.0 seconds.
  • On 2nd & 10, Roethlisberger threw incomplete to Vance McDonald. The Titans blitzed from the right to rush five players. James Conner picked up the blitz. Roethlisberger held the ball and slid to the right as Conner made the block. After throwing the pass, the defender looked to lightly tap Roethlisberger’s chest area, basically to let him know he was there. Snap-to-throw time was 3.75 seconds, the longest of the night.
  • On 3rd & 10, Roethlisberger completed a quick slip screen to the left to Conner for eight yards. The Titans rushed four players, blitzing the corner from the Steelers right side and dropping the opposite defensive end into coverage. The Steelers blocked with their five linemen, but the blitzer never made it close enough to get blocked. The Steelers actually ran the screen play to both sides, but the blitzing corner made Roethlisberger throw in the opposite direction. Snap-to-throw time was 1.5 seconds.

Second Drive

  • On 1st & 10, Roethlisberger threw an incomplete pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Titans only rushed four players, and the Steelers blocked with their five linemen as Conner chipped the defender on the right before floating into the flat. No pressure on the quarterback. Snap-to-throw time was 2.0 seconds.
  • On 2nd & 10, Roethlisberger completed a pass to Smith-Schuster for six yards. The Titans only rushed four players, and the Steelers only blocked with their five linemen. No pressure on the QB. Snap-to-throw time was 2.0 seconds.
  • On 3rd & 4, Roethlisberger threw an incomplete pass to Eli Rogers. The Titans only rushed three players and dropped eight into coverage. The Steelers only blocked with their five linemen and there was no pressure on Roethlisberger. Snap-to-throw time was 1.5 seconds.

Third Drive

  • On 1st & 10, Roethlisberger threw incomplete to Vance McDonald. The Titans only rushed four players, and the Steelers only blocked with their five linemen. No pressure on the QB. Snap-to-throw time was 2.25 seconds.
  • On 1st & 10, Roethlisberger completed a pass to Conner for seven yards. The Titans only rushed four players, and the Steelers only blocked with their five linemen. No pressure on Roethlisberger, so he dumped the pass off to Conner in the flat on a check-down. Snap-to-throw time was 2.5 seconds.
  • On 2nd & 3, Roethlisberger completed a pass to Smith-Schuster for eight yards. The Titans only rushed four players, and Jaylen Smauels stayed into block for extra protection. No pressure on Roethlisberger. Snap-to-throw time was 2.5 seconds.
  • On 1st & 10, Roethlisberger completed a pass to Smith-Schuster for six yards. The Titans blitzed a corner from the Steelers right side, rushing five players total. The Steelers ran a play-action fake to Conner which froze the corner and allowed the pass to be completed without anyone picking up the blitz. Snap-to-throw time was 2.0 seconds.
  • On 1st & 10, Roethlisberger completed a pass to Smith-Schuster for a 17-yard touchdown. The Titans blitzed a corner from the the Steelers right side and a linebacker from the left, rushing six players and playing one-on-one with each receiver. Jaylen Samuels picked up the corner blitz while the middle linebacker hovered around the line of scrimmage to cover Samuels. Alejandro Villanueva picked up the blitzing linebacker. Snap-to-throw time was 2.25 seconds.

Two-point Conversion Attempt

  • On the two-point conversion, Roethlisberger completed a pass to Jaylen Samuels for a loss of yards and a failed attempt. The Titans blitzed their middle linebacker around the Steelers left side, rushing five players total. Villanueva picked up the blitz but had to give a little ground to do so. Roethlisberger did have to step back in order to complete the throw due to the blitzer, but no contact was made. Snap-to-throw time was 2.75 seconds.

From the 14 pass plays listed above, Ben Roethlisberger was only touched one time after the ball was thrown. In no way could the play be judged as a “hit” on the quarterback. While the offensive line did a fantastic job in pass protection and run blocking, the average snap-to-throw time was just over two seconds which helped protect the quarterback. Even though most passes were fairly quick, they were effective. It will be interesting to see if the Steelers take a similar approach during the regular season.