clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Ben Roethlisberger is probably allowed to run a quarterback sneak, even if he's not

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is not only 6'5", he's the straw that stirs that drink in the Steelers organization. I'm pretty sure he could have gotten away with a quarterback sneak or two in Pittsburgh's playoff loss to the Jaguars on Sunday.

Divisional Round - Jacksonville Jaguars v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Near the end of the third quarter of the Steelers divisional round playoff game against the Colts on January 15, 2006, Indianapolis faced a fourth and short and decided to send the punt team out.

Quarterback Peyton Manning quickly waved the unit off and decided he was going to go for it.

Manning's boss, Colts head coach Tony Dungy, mouthed, "You better make it."

As you know, Manning made it, a conversion that segued into the Colts quickly evaporating most of what was a 21-3 deficit in an ending for the ages, as Pittsburgh barely escaped with a 21-18 victory.

Anyway, back to Dungy telling Manning "You better make it." If I'm Manning at the moment, I might mouth back, "Is there an 'Or else' that goes with that, Coach?"

After all, who's more indispensable to a football team, a franchise quarterback or his coach?

Not much of a debate, as even your greatest head coaches throughout history have had a hard time winning without a franchise passer.

Which brings me to this past Sunday, and the Steelers not-so-memorable 45-42 loss to the Jaguars in a divisional round matchup at Heinz Field.

The ending could have been one for the ages if the Steelers had been able to convert on one or both of their fourth and inches attempts during the game.

Why didn't they?

One of the reasons may have had to do with Ben Roethlisberger being forbidden from executing the old quarterback sneak, something he hasn't even attempted since late in the 2015 season.

The theory is that Roethlisberger, a 6'5", 240-plus pound man nicknamed 'Big Ben,' isn't allowed to try quarterback sneaks these days, out of fear he'll get injured.

I find that funny, since Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, a 6'4", 225 pound man often nicknamed a wimp by those who hate his guts, does it all the time.

Following Sunday's debacle, Roethlisberger was naturally asked about why he didn't sneak it on one (or both) of those fourth and inches attempts.

In yet another instance of Big Ben being Passive Aggressive Ben, Roethlisberger said of the decision not to sneak it, "That's over my head."

Yeah right, that's about as disingenuous as when a player says his contract negotiations are "up to his agent," you know, the one he hired?

Nothing in the Steelers playbook is over Roethlisberger's head. I know this, because each play, save for the occasional one that starts in the wildcat formation, begins with the football in his hands.

Basically, Roethlisberger, like any quarterback, can do whatever he wants once he decides to take the snap from center.

And, as I alluded to earlier, a quarterback of Roethlisberger's status would certainly have more latitude with waving a coach's orders off and saying, "Screw it, we're running this play!"

In Roethlisberger, we're talking about one of the toughest people to ever play his position at such a high level.

We're also talking about a quarterback who is 18 of 19 during his career attempting quarterback sneaks.

You know what else we're talking about? A quarterback who takes every snap from a Pro Bowl center, who, oh by the way, has a Pro Bowl guard lined up to his right.

Speaking of offensive linemen, unless it's some elaborate running play that involves pulling and such, can't you simply attempt a sneak even if your mates think the play is something else?

The most famous sneak of all time occurred when nobody but the quarterback knew what was coming.

I'm talking about Bart Starr's famous sneak for the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds of the 1967 Ice Bowl that earned the Packers their third-straight NFL Championship.

The play was designed for running back Chuck Mercein, but given the icy field conditions, Starr decided to just keep the ball and plunge over the line himself.

I'm pretty sure the Packers coaching staff—including Vince Lombardi—was okay with Starr's decision to keep everyone in the dark.

And if one or two secret quarterback sneaks on Sunday would have segued into a trip to New England (instead of some tropical destination), I'm pretty sure Ben Roethlisberger's coaches and teammates would have been okay with keeping them in the dark.